#WhyIMarch: Meeting the Women

On Saturday, January 21st, women from around the country will be gathering in Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington. The official mission reads: 

We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.

Tonight, I met up with the group of area women who will be joining me on the journey. 

“When I told my husband I was going to the march, he said ‘Aren’t you too old for that?'”

She wasn’t, she said. Aileen told us that she was 67 years old and that she marched against the Vietnam War. And then everyone clapped, nodded, and appreciated her.

Another woman, Jen Fox, raised her hand. “I’ve never felt the need to be a feminist,” she said.

“I was raised by strong women. But if my belief that the president shouldn’t grab my pussy makes me a feminist, then yeah. I’m a feminist.”

Right beside Jen, an artist who goes by @TheVagilante stood up in agreement.

“When I heard those comments, something inside me broke. So many times in my life, I’ve not said the things that need to be said. The second he became elected, I knew I had to get involved.”

The circle of women concurred; his voice on that now infamous recording and his eerie chuckle still sting. We replay his words in our heads, hearing it too clearly, and our disgust returns in amplified echoes.

“I’m still pissed that Hillary didn’t get the job,” Meghann said, relieving us of the memory. “I cannot stand for another smart woman to get passed over. That’s why I’m marching – for all the women who get passed over.”

“There are more buses going the day after than the day of,” Leigh added. “That says something.”

Breaking the circle, the women began to embrace, introduce themselves, and ask questions about buses, metro cards, lunches and timetables. Everyone wore a name tag. I took the opportunity to find the women in charge, if only to thank them for their efforts, their approach, and their sense of purpose.

Talking to Kristin Zangrilli, one of four organizers, felt like talking to a trusted confidante. “I lied to my children,” she told me. “That’s why I’m marching.”

“On the morning of the election,” she began, “there was unbridled hope and endless possibilities. We were about to elect the first woman to the office of President of the United States. I remember standing at the bottom of our stairwell, looking up at my daughters with tears in my eyes. ‘You can be anything you want to be – even president of the United States!’ I told them.

“On the following morning I was overcome with anger, disbelief, outrage, and disgust. My daughters came running in to confirm a Hillary win. I fought to find the words.

“I didn’t know how to explain that a man who could so easily speak of a woman as if she didn’t matter, a man who claimed he could do what he pleased, who could ‘Grab ‘em by the pussy, and do anything!’ was now our president elect.

“So I lied. I chose to go with optimism and hope.

“For the first time ever, I lied to my children – and that is an action I cannot accept. I will not accept it. This election has ignited a fire within me! To not take action would damage my soul.

“So on January 21, I march for my children, for their generation, for myself and my fellow Americans. Because ‘Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights.'”

Stay in touch, readers. We’re going to Washington.

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Posted by

Mel Kozakiewicz a professor, editor, writer, and mother of two.

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