Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women standing up for their American rights

     "You need to make a sash," I said. The kind of half-joking, half-sincere thing I often say. Spoken to my wife a couple days ago, leading up to Saturday's big women's march in Chicago—and Washington, and New York, and around the country, protesting the election of Donald Trump, a president dedicated to undermining the civil rights of women in our country.
     Sashes of course were what suffragettes wear. "Votes for Women." Just one hundred years ago. And the sexism is so baked into our society that, unlike those who marched and were beaten for Civil Rights in the 1950s and 1960s, the big-hatted suffragettes — who also marched and were also beaten — are remembered as somewhat ridiculous: Winifred Banks, ignoring her children for some cause. Her sash ends up the tail of a kite, when she returns to her family, where she belongs. 
Carla Slawson, with breakfast, hurries to the station.
     Just to say that they were not ridiculous: they were courageous, patriotic, they pried a basic democratic right — the right to vote — from the grasp of a male-dominated culture that abused and marginalized them, sounds faintly radical, still, a reminder that, hard as it is to see, we live in a world sunk in prehistoric sexism. We sneer at the Saudis, not letting their women drive, then our government goes hammer and tongs after Planned Parenthood and its life-saving health care. Led by a man married three times who bragged into a hot mike about groping women against their will.
   Not to focus on him. The key truth to always keep in mind is that Trump didn't make us like this, he just came along and exploited how we are. And in that sense, ultimately, he might have done this country a service, by so highlighting our deficiencies, assuming we are able to remedy them. But it will be a long uphill slog to get there, made harder by who is now in power across the federal government. 
   I would have gone along to protest, but didn't want to big foot into the women's march. Besides, a half dozen friends were meeting her. Instead, I hovered as she got ready, spewing Polonius advice. "The police use their bikes as a wall," I said, describing the "Seattle maneuver" I observed at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. "They create a perimeter and then expand it to move the crowd. Don't get up against the bikes because you'll end up getting pushed back."
    She said she'd be fine, and I'm sure she will be.
    I am proud of my wife for going, for making extra signs, for those without, for making several defending science, also under immediate assault.  Proud that our neighbors happily went, taking the 7:30 Metra Milwaukee North line. 
     As a rule, I narrow my eyes at protests. What's the point? Who are you protesting to? Donald Trump? He sure ain't listening. His followers? They don't even perceive reality. They've already cherry-picked a few acts of protest violence to wave smugly at each other and giddily denounce the lib-tards and their violence. And what do you hope to accomplish? Trump isn't going anywhere. Women's rights will be a pinata for the next four years.
     But seeing my wife off at the station, I realized why protesters protest. Not for the subject of their protest, but for themselves. Because they have to. They have to do something. To speak up. It isn't for Trump, or the Republicans, or their voters. It's for them, for their sense of duty, so as the next four bleak years of corruption, self-dealing, incompetence and hostility toward women unfolds, they can say, "We did what I could. We stood up. We spoke out." It's a beautiful, bold, feminine, American thing.


  1. Start now, so we don't have to start from the beginning again.

  2. What's the point? That's also the question my partner asked yesterday when I told him I would be attending the "Elgin Standing Together" rally and march this afternoon in downtown Elgin. Yes, protesters protest for themselves, Neil, but they also do it to organize and build a sense of community that leads to action - people getting involved, running for local office, getting the word out, getting more people riled up.

    So what I said to my partner was, if you want to know why, look at the Tea Party. Think about all the destruction that has caused. You can't deny that the Tea Party movement underpins where we are today. Now maybe it's our turn.

  3. Don't like the notion of emulating Republican tactics, especially substituting rhetoric for thought.


  4. Your wife, intelligent, educated,strong, brave....yet...looks so tiny with her signs. Hooray also for you for not bigfooting.

  5. “What’s the point”? No, this will not change Trump. But there is an election for some Congress members in 2 years and they want to get reelected. So maybe, just maybe, these protests will cause some of them to change their views on some of the legislation or hopefully they will get voted out of office.


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