Why I Marched

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I marched on Saturday. Some of you are already rolling your eyes and some of you are cheering, but I marched without question. That is, until I got there and, surrounded by 200,000 other Denverites, the friend I was marching with said, “I need you to write a blog post to remind me why I’m marching.” I paused for a moment and thought about my own motives for being there. I’ve got to be honest, it was a gut reaction to the election. I didn’t think, I just clicked “Interested In” when the event invite scrolled past my screen. So why was I there?

I have a distinct memory from my senior year of high school. I sat in English class and listened to our teacher explain to the young women before him, “Girls, if you get to your junior year of college and are not married or in a serious relationship, it’s natural that you’re going to panic a little and it’s going to be hard for you.”

To be fair, this was not all that uncommon. Our English teacher doubled as our Bible teacher, and there was often overlap between Shakespeare and Song of Solomon. But those words stuck to my 18-year-old soul. I carried them with me all summer and into the fall semester of my freshman year of college.

The first week of class, I had one thing on my agenda; to find a man before it was too late. If you’ve never seen a Bible school introvert with virtually no life experience and an unfortunate collection of gaucho pants try to snag a husband, you haven’t really lived. Thankfully, I was not successful.

Why did I march? I marched for the 18-year-old girl who thought she needed a man to feel whole. I marched against the culture of telling girls they need to find a Prince Charming, a patriarch, a purpose. I marched because someone should have stood up and called bullshit on that teacher 10 years ago, but none of us knew how.

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I marched because I am so proud to have a partner who marched with me. A feminist is someone who seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. Sound like pretty basic stuff? My husband agrees with you. I grew up being taught that I needed a prince to rescue me from an unsatisfying single life. I was pretty proud to have a partner instead of a prince by my side on Saturday.

I marched because I know what it’s like to pay for birth control on a fixed income without health insurance and before the Affordable Care Act. It. Is. Not. Sustainable. When my husband and I were newly married, we worked hourly jobs seven days a week, rented a room in the basement of a house, and were in no way ready to support a child. Paying for birth control was confusing, stressful, and never more necessary. No one should have to struggle to make such a responsible decision.

I marched because I believe in Planned Parenthood. While working in the public health program at a refugee resettlement center in DC, I saw firsthand how difficult it was for refugees and asylees fleeing horrible, sometimes life-threatening circumstances to navigate their limited health coverage in the United States.

I remember one client in particular who injured herself on duty at a factory job. She lost the baby she was carrying inside of her and she developed an internal injury that threatened to take her life. I called specialist after specialist explaining the situation and NONE of them would accept her insurance. I couldn’t believe it. I got to the last name on my list and dialed Planned Parenthood. She was seen and treated almost immediately.

Most of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding comes from Medicaid reimbursements for preventive care, and some is from Title X. The government never writes a blank check to Planned Parenthood, and zero dollars of federal funding ever go abortion services. I support Planned Parenthood because they saved the life of a woman whose longtime employer refused to pay for a life-threatening injury that was due to neglect of their own machinery.

I support Planned Parenthood because if I hadn’t been so afraid of them, JD and I could have saved a meaningful amount of money on birth control when we were newlyweds. I support Planned Parenthood because it’s the right thing to do.

I marched because I voted and I wasn’t happy with the result. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen a post this week that went something like “why didn’t those 3 million women march themselves to the voting booth in November …” First of all, we did, which is perhaps part of the reason Hillary won the popular vote by about 3 million votes. Second, I voted, which is why I felt it was important to represent and grieve for that vote, much like the Tea Party movement did after the 2008 election. It’s our right as Americans, and I think it’s pretty beautiful.

I marched because I’ve been grabbed by the pussy without my consent and I didn’t particularly like it.

I marched because too often, I don’t show up for things I believe in. Whether you agree with Saturday’s march or not, we all have moments in our lives when we haven’t shown up. Sometimes it’s in those moments when an executive looks at a row of men, and me, and asks me to make him a pot of coffee. Sometimes it’s when I don’t show up in my marriage. Sometimes it’s when I tear myself down internally, telling myself that this is the blog post where people will stop reading. Saturday was me showing up in a way that I was proud of. I think we can all relate to that.

I marched because I am not that little girl anymore. To that girl, I would say that a relationship is only part of what makes life full. I would tell her to walk a path of honesty, hard work, and hard decisions and to invite people to walk that path with her who will do it as a partner and as an equal. Lastly, I would tell her not to be afraid to show up. Because, at the end of the day, everyone benefits when you show up.

PS. I didn’t make that man coffee. I pointed him in the direction of the nearest coffee shop, because I had shit to do.

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