The 2018 Women’s March is now history, amid doubts regarding the usefulness of our efforts. Why do it again? What is our point? Why must we shrill witches turn our issues into an annual event? What are we even marching for, anyway?
The best answer is succinctly summed up, like many best answers are, by Beatles’ lyrics. Specifically, from the song “Revolution”: “Well … you know … we all want to change the world.”
Well. You know. We do want that. We march each January for so many causes, for the things that haven’t changed and for the things that have gotten worse. A sampling: equal pay for equal work. Equal treatment under the law. The fate of Mother Earth at the hands of greedy, shortsighted exploiters. Freedom from sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and the marketplace and the home. A just wage. Universal health care. Civil rights. Reproductive autonomy. The threatened deportation of young people who have been raised as Americans. Racial bigotry. Mass incarceration. The obscene proliferation of firearms in our communities. The "Black Lives Matter" movement. The rise of hate crimes, against Muslims, against Jews, against people of color, against LGBT folks, against anyone who seems different. #MeToo. Nukes. The election of an incredibly problematic president. The hope for the future election of women to all levels of public office. And this year: Getting out the vote! Because if we all want to change the world, voting is the main way to do it.
Then there’s this: We marched again this year because we remembered the positive energy and female exuberance of last year’s march, and we wanted to feel that connection again. We needed to recharge ourselves with the super-jolt of the worldwide community of women working and shouting and agitating for justice and peace. We needed to fight off the resistance-fatigue of the past year. We needed to celebrate democracy at the street level as we lingered in the camaraderie of strangers. The march is almost like a spiritual retreat where you rekindle your foundational beliefs, and you recommit to work as hard as you can to be a better person, and you pray that you may impact your little corner of the world with truth and love. You bring a euphoric resolve back to your real life. The motivating, mobilizing moment carries you through the year. The march is that powerful.
I marched this year with two of my daughters in San Diego, where my oldest daughter lives. The morning in San Diego was so beautiful that the sun shone even when it was raining. We rallied at the waterfront with thousands of women, men and children, listened to mighty speeches from representatives of a variety of causes, and then chanted and marched our way along the planned route, posters in hand and pussyhats on heads. Having experienced glorious human gridlock last year in Los Angeles, it was refreshing to be able to make forward progress. I thought of it as a metaphor.
The poster I’d planned to make the night before the march was going to say “Unthinkable … Unspeakable … Unimaginable.” I’d been thinking about that one for a while. It seemed to express my anger and disbelief at where the past year of our dear leader’s term has led us.
“Wow, Mom,” my daughter said. “That’s pretty dark. Not like last year.”
She was right. Last year my poster said, “Love is Love is Love is Love is Love,” and was studded with pink flowers. Where had my optimism gone? I was going low instead of high. Another reason to march.
So instead of that harsh alliteration, I rethought my poster’s message, and hand-lettered “History has its eyes on you.” (Thank you, "Hamilton" lyrics.) My daughter then painted eyes all around the words, which made me grateful that she’d inherited her father’s artistic gift. We took turns holding up our joint effort.
Here’s why I marched again this year: Someday my daughters may have daughters, who may have daughters, and I hope they won’t need to march every January in order to be heard and acknowledged and respected, because we marched for them. The eyes of history will teach them of a time when women were paid less and valued less than their male counterparts, and this time will seem like the Dark Ages to them. I hope. And if they ask their mothers why women had to march, they’ll say, 'Well … You know … Once there was this world that needed changing.'