This election cycle has affected me as none other since crazy Sarah Palin was on the news all the time in 2008. (Seriously, that woman is dumber than a box of hair.) The last year I have listened with alarm as the bitter divisiveness of our political parties dragged down the country I love. Neither side is without fault. Neither side has been willing to find a middle ground for the sake of others, and that saddens me.
I have been in a real state of despair since November 7th as fundamentalist friends and family from the evangelical persuasion have been emboldened to write hateful remarks on their social media, scorn others with different political views, and mock people of many different lifestyles, abilities, and backgrounds. I hid militant Obama supporters last election who were lacking civility, but the rhetoric and outright perpetuation of falsehoods to besmirch the poor, the disabled, the least among us for simply being alive, from people claiming to be Christians has added to my spiraling darkness. I’ve felt such hopelessness that there are moral, ethical, genuine servant leaders still in places of influence that could shine a light of truth into the lies I read from these people I thought I knew.
I started to feel like all hope in the goodness of my country was not lost when I started to see comments about the possible organization of women for a peaceful March on DC. In my wildest dreams, I could not have dreamed that as a woman, I could dare to believe I could have a voice loud enough to be heard by the many male politicians who represent my state. And they have my number here, I’m a frequent writer about positions for which I am passionate about. But it has seemed futile. As this last week as it built and as I continued to see smatterings of coverage for the Women’s March on Washington, I started to feel like I wasn’t alone in my outrage over the injustices that have been emboldened toward women throughout these last few years. I started to hope that my lone voice was actually carrying a message that other women also cared about.
I read news articles about the pussy hats women in a nearby large city were knitting for marchers to wear and I saw female Christian friends of mine write scathing comments on those articles about how real women don’t sit around and knit pink cat hats or walk in a useless parade of people on a Saturday but actually get to work in their own communities. I found that insulting. Without taking any time to find out how invested these women who were knitting free hats for others might be in their own communities, these people were disparaging another human, another American, for freely contributing her time supporting something she believed in. No one’s rights were trampled upon in the knitting of those pink kitty hats. No religion was disparaged. No political party was mentioned. Instead these women being interviews spoke of being unable to go to DC, but wanting to be there in solidarity with other women who were able. They spoke of taking back the derogatory term of “pussy” from those who wanted to slander women and tear them down. They simply were doing what they could to make it possible for other women to speak softly but wear a strong symbol of unity.
When I read that article, the movement began to resonate within me. I wanted one of those hats. In my little corner of the conservative Wild West, there was not much above ground talk about this walk. Only 10 days ago did I find out there was a march in our state’s Capitol. I had no idea how to get one of those hats. I wondered if I would be brave enough to wear one, even if I did. And the darkness inside me started to brighten a little. I don’t wear hats, even when it is below zero. It screws up my hair. But, I wanted to have one of those hats. I wanted to passively show that I stood in solidarity with the women oppressed in my community. Whose healthcare options were being limited. Whose free breast cancer screenings were going to be stolen. I wanted to stand up for the little girls who are raped and their rapists are set free in our state. The women whose pleas for restraining orders fall on deaf ears and die at the hands of their abusers. I wanted to stand for my friend who had to sit through abortion counseling because her baby was in her Fallopian tube and she had to have it surgically removed. I wanted to wear that hat for myself and my colleagues today who are mounting a case against our employer for gender based pay inequity. I wanted to wear that hat for my gay sister and gay friends who have just gotten married. For their freedom from religion dictating their love and sex life decisions.
I was afraid I would be the only voice. The only hat. The only woman who cared enough to put myself out there. I felt alone in my heart, but I hoped for all my sisters in bigger places. I hoped they would find their tribe. I prayed they would find a way to share our collective story that we matter. Our issues matter. Our lives matter. Our votes matter. Our wishes matter.
I wanted one of those hats. I wanted to be there.
Today, I logged into my social media and could hardly find any coverage of the DC March. I had a haircut with the slowest but most awesome curly hair cutting diva in my region for 2 hours. When I left her salon, I logged back on to Facebook and was brought to TEARS. Trending was not just the DC March, but the INTERNATIONAL MARCH OF SOLIDARITY. I was incapable of thinking for a few minutes as I scrolled through the dozens of news stories in my feed. I thought the 200,000 thousand women expected to be in Washington would be an amazing show of solidarity to our political leaders. But when I read that there were around 500,000…750,000 in Los Angeles…250,000 in Chicago…hundreds of thousands of women and men peacefully assembling simply in America to stand in solidarity for themselves and those without a voice. For safety, for choices, for honesty, for humanity…
For me this movement represents a wake up call. I am more than one voice. I’m not relegated to suffering my outrage in silence. It’s not just me and my little circle of submissive feminist friends who find hate incompatible with human rights or dignity. We are a part of something bigger.
I will not go softly back into my remote corner and lament my lack of power. I have seen the sea of pink pussy hats. I have listened to my sisters speak truth to power. I have read their words and witnessed their numbers.
You can bet that tomorrow, I will have a pink pussy hat. I will wear that damn hat to a quilting gathering with some of the most judgemental ladies I know who cloak their righteousness in fundamental American Evangelical Christianity. This will be the last time I ever gather with them. I won’t listen to more drivel about how a person’s worth is tied to their salvation in a cultish church movement. I won’t withold clothes, food or shelter from someone in need until they level up in the Christianity life game. I won’t allow my lgbt friends and family to be mocked or disparaged because of their biological desire to love and be loved. I won’t stand by and silently appear to support the misconstrued historical writings of a religious book over proven scientific facts. I won’t quietly propagate post-truth. I will wear my hat openly as a signal to any other women who are afraid they have been marginalized and silenced.