What Did Women Achieve on January 21, 2017?

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Thousands of people, one message: we are all one.

I am proud to say that I was among them.

I’ve had the edited photos sitting on my desktop since the evening of the 21st. Waiting to be posted, and shared. Waiting to spread that energetic joy and solidarity. I began an effervescent post that day, in my heady, giddy evening, finally thawed and dry again. I was too tired to finish it that night, but this is part of what I wrote:

“I joined what event organizers estimate was 100,000 people who turned out in the cold rain to support inclusivity of all people, and mostly women. I saw thousands of Pussy Hats (on men too!), which I had never even heard of prior to arriving, but soon enjoyed the joke with everyone else. I got totally soaked and my fingers became so frozen I couldn’t even operate the camera function on my iPhone anymore, and missed some good shots, and through it all, I was laughing. And the men and women next to me were laughing. And the police were smiling at us. And the bystanders on the sidewalks were smiling and waving, and some of them were singing to us. Singing! Women’s voices lifted in spiritually bolstering sounds of protest songs.

Downtown Portland was jammed. Shoulder to shoulder, and you-could-poke-an-eye-out with that umbrella, jammed. When it was time to start the march, at noon, the police escort vehicles could not get from the organizer’s stand to the front of the crowd to begin the march. Their lights flashing, they inched forward and people smooshed aside, and we did not begin marching till 1:00pm. There were so many people that when I was all done marching, and in the Jeep running the heater to get warm and dry again, people were still under the Morrison Bridge, waiting for the press of people to thin so that they could begin their march.”

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I loved this sign not only for the message, but because it’s a reminder of the rain, rain, rain.
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Walking along the waterfront to the main gathering area.
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I’m sort of too refined to laugh. Almost.

…and on January 22nd, the wind was knocked out of my sails. And I was so angry I began a second post, which still sits in my WP drafts folder, filled with damned good reasons why I’m angry. Because I, personally, have been attacked by my own President (because I’m female, a veteran, mother of a transgender child, a person with disability), and then explaining how all of us were not only ignored the next day, but shown an enormous orange middle finger. Not only was the administration working as fast as possible to repeal a plan to reform our nation’s health care system, but the President’s immediate reaction to our exquisitely clear message (i.e. women’s issues are important to many, many of us, and it is so important that we need our country’s leaders to know it), was to wipe out U.S. assistance to overseas organizations that provide healthcare and counseling to include family planning. Read: women’s health issues.

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People line the Morrison Bridge to look down onto the crowd. Once I spotted this, I wanted to get up there with my camera so badly! But the crush of people was impossible.
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I love: his T-shirt, and the Prince umbrella!
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Signs: Oregon Nurses Make A Difference, Dosvedanya Donald, Rise UP, Health Care For All, Resist, Stop the Lies, Yes We Did Yes We Can

No attempt to acknowledge that there were millions of us asking for the total opposite. No explanation for why we were ignored. And just to make it perfectly clear, an executive decision that was a resounding slap in the face. “Here’s what I think of women’s issues, and of your opinions, bitches.”

After an event that manifested into so much more than promised, after it spread not only to all parts of the U.S., but to places around the world, our movement should have been undeniable. The polite and democratic – and LOUD – message from men, women, and children of America should have been undeniable. That is, undeniable to anyone whose finger is on the pulse of current events; anyone who realizes that leaders are supposed to reflect the voice of the people. And the one man we were trying to poke doesn’t have those qualities, apparently.

Though I use this blog to post my soapbox rants periodically, that day I didn’t. I was seething, and I do not want to spread that nasty energy out into the world, so I couldn’t post. My anger turned to sadness and disillusionment with time, and I still did not want to send that out. I love you. I want to share my perspective, but I do not want to stir up your darkness just because mine is stirred. Yes… sometimes I do it anyway… but I like it best when I can cool off first before spouting off.

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I heart immigrants and a big bird-ish thing. Don’t ask me…
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This is NOT OK. I Stand With Planned Parenthood.
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Laws off My Body. Outraged. Oregon Nurses Make A Difference. In Our America: Love Wins. And note: the handmade Hillary handbag.

See look, it might be relevant background information to know I just finished reading Herman Wouk’s War and Remembrance. Wouk methodically tracked, month by month, the devastating sweep of dictatorship in WWII. The gradual shift from one man’s delusions of grandeur to his psychotic reign of terror. The hesitant but acquiescing actions of first a political body, then a nation, and then the neighboring countries of Europe, remorsefully handing over their citizens because it was easier than pissing off Hitler. I saw how possible it was then (and could be now) for so many people to help him with his goals, and how many of them had facts right in front of their faces, but instead yelled about lies spread by the opposition! I’m telling you, I was freaking out. I sort of still am.

But the people of the world are shining their light and it turned me around. This is 2017, not 1941, and maybe some of us remember history. The day that turned it over for me was January 27th, when the President signed another executive order, banning entrance to the US for anyone from seven specific countries. Almost immediately, lawyers were rushing to airports, actively looking for people in need, pro bono.

I lifted my head and realized that a lot of people were still just as loud about human rights today as they were last month, or in November, or last summer. People are on fire, and the fire is not going out!

There is organized opposition to the confirmation of various people selected to run our government, particularly Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, and Scott Pruitt for Environment Secretary. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates declined to support Trump’s immigration ban. And was fired. When the administration enacted a gag order on the Environmental Protection Agency, halting all action on projects in progress, removing information from their website related to climate change and emissions, and banning all communication with outsiders, memos were leaked, and staff of the EPA began immediately sharing their stories on a personal level to make sure the information got out anyway. Local activists on the city level began using Tea Party tactics as a guide to mount a different resistance. These are just a few stories off the top of my head.

I don’t know the facts of all of these issues, so I can’t endorse the arguments of the opposition but I DO endorse the opposition itself. I am not in the let’s-give-him-a-chance camp. Not one bit. The buffoon has already made it clear that I, Crystal, have no value to him, and so my response is in kind. When my leader proudly announces that he refuses to lead me with honor to the best of his ability, then I owe nothing to that leader. Our job, as democratic citizens, is to watch his every move like hawks. And to come down hard when something is illegal or counter to American values that we are famous for: freedom from religious persecution, equality for all citizens, progress, and engagement. And when we can’t fight him directly like Sally Yates did, then we will have to settle for annoying him and jamming sticks into the spokes of his demagogic mechanisms.

I do have a little hope now. Maybe you do too. Please enjoy these photos from the march. It was *pouring* rain the whole entire time, and it was so cold. If it had been a little colder, it would have been snowing, and then we would not have all been soaked to the core. But despite the wretched weather, spirits did not seem dampened at all! There were thousands of women, and thousands of men, and people with no gender at all. There were people using wheelchairs. And people on prosthetic legs, and people who couldn’t see. And people who didn’t speak English. People who weren’t old enough to talk yet, and people so old they had seen this all before, a hundred times, and were responsible for some of the rights we hold today. People were holding BLACK LIVES MATTER signs, ACLU signs, and people holding signs in Hebrew and Russian and Arabic and Chinese, that I couldn’t read. One in Spanish I could read: Somos Uno (We Are All One!).

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We are all one. You don’t have to believe it, but it’s true.

Half of them were wearing Pussy Hats, which I had never even heard of before that day. I could tell the hats looked like they had cat ears, and I got it right away, because my President was caught on camera joking about grabbing women’s pussies. When told it is offensive, his response shows that he thinks we’re overreacting. Basically implying that boys will be boys. So it turns out, zillions of people found the knitting instructions online, and made these caps in all colours, but mostly in pink, and men, women, babies, and police officers, and group organizers, and everyone was wearing them. Many people held signs that said, “Pussy Grabs Back!”

Two favourite signs of the day: Babies Against Bigots! It was pinned to the coat of an infant being carried in a backpack on her father’s chest. The other said “I know signs. I make the best signs. They’re terrific. Everyone agrees.”

What did women achieve that day? (And men. Do me a favour and skim all those photos and notice the men in every one) Oh gosh, I just don’t know. What was it all for? Were we only preaching to the choir? At least I spoke up, but it doesn’t seem enough. And I feel too small to do more. But my hopes are up again, and I still have my voice, and I’ll continue to use it.

21 thoughts on “What Did Women Achieve on January 21, 2017?

  1. Good for you for attending a march! I love the photos and video showing just how large the group was. I too am angry much of the time, then depressed, then scared, and back to angry. I am working on a post card writing idea I want to share with my local Indivisible group. I don’t think just protests, just calls, or just mail is enough individually, but add that all together and you’ve got a strong movement. There are many groups too: Indivisible, Resist, Revolution. I don’t think people have been this motivated to effect change since the 60s/70s.

    Look what’s already happened. There is a group of lawyers who have filed a lawsuit against Trump. I don’t know the details, but my lawyer friend assures me it is a big deal. But it’s not going to be enough to get Trump out. That whole administrative team has to go: from Bannon to McConnell.

    Keep up the good work! I haven’t got my pussy hat yet, but my neighbor has. I will ask her where she got hers.

    Don’t forget to watch some funny stuff: SNL really got into it with a Baldwin Trump sketch and one with Melissa McCarthy doing Spicer. Comic relief.

    1. Don’t you think Alec Baldwin does a perfect Trump? It’s so funny. Every time. I’m glad that you have found ways to be hopeful too, and to participate somehow. I have heard of a lawsuit about the immigration ban, but it sounds like you are talking about a different one.

      Most of my family and many of my friends are conservative, and one thing I’ve heard from them is “We never liked Obama either, but we didn’t behave like this.” I’ve been wondering about that comment. I’m convinced it’s not the same. It doesn’t feel like merely the difference between political goals. It feels like he was elected based on values that I didn’t know reasonable people held. How many Americans really, truly want the America that Trump wants? And are they in the majority? And if they are…does democracy mean I am supposed shut up and endure it?

      I asked one of the women where she got her pussy hat, and she said she made it. But I’ll bet that by now you can find someone online selling them. Or even in a local shop, if you hit the right shop.

      1. OH, yes. Alec Baldwin is the best! SNL has never been funnier. As for your Conservatives friends: This is NOT the same as them complaining about Obama. That was racism by the GOP. These protests against TRump are because he is completely unqualified. He’s a psychopath and wants to be emperor. Obama was neither of these. He was competent. Graceful. Diplomatic. Fair. There were no questions about his loyalty to America (except in the minds of the “birthers”, which was crap started by TRump, remember?

        TRump supporters are a minority! Clinton won the popular vote. The only reason TRump won is b/c of the EC. I didn’t vote for G. Bush. I didn’t like him or his policies, but I never protested him. The American people are correct in assuming we must regain control before we end up in a dictatorship.

        I saw an ad for Pussy Hats, and they wanted waaaay too much for a knit cap (somewhere in the $35 range) but I’m sure there are other places. Contact a local women’s group, I bet you can get one there. I’m going to ask my Indivisible friends if they know where to get one relatively cheap.

  2. Truly awesome… I thank you for being a part of the experience. I could not, but my kids were in the Portland and Seattle marches. Give intelligence alive. Keep choice personal. Keep pay equal, and keep love in the forefront…

    1. Thank you MIchael, for your support and for taking the time to comment. You raised kids who care, and that makes you a successful parent! Thank you for doing that for the world. 🙂 Intelligence…it’s not a crime.

  3. An important post, Crystal, with some good photos. Incidentally, I think the Morrison bridge one demonstrates perfectly the extent of the march, and I bet it enlarges well. I’ve not read the Wouk book, but the similarity is indeed frightening.

    1. Thanks for your perspective, Derrick, on the post and the photos. I was worried the Morrison Bridge photo didn’t reflect the crowd well, because you can see the people are only about 2 deep. But I appreciate your feedback that my impression was the same one you had.

      As for making Hitler comparisons with Trump, it’s another topic I’m hesitant about. In my opinion, people throw around comparisons too easily: “they’re like Nazis!” And I don’t want to do that. I tried to write it in a way that explained my setting (back in time), and why I think I was particularly affected. Why the fear hit so hard. I wonder if it would be any different had I been reading PG Wodehouse. The facts still seem frightening to me.

  4. This is beautiful. I might not have much hope before for your country, but I have more now after reading this. ❤ My favourite: “I know signs. I make the best signs. They’re terrific. Everyone agrees.” One question: I can't read what the guy's shirt says on the photo #6. Help?

    1. Thank you for telling me that I gave you a little hope! That makes my day! Isn’t that sign hilarious? When I first read it, I went through slowly, thinking “My, this is a wordy sign. It doesn’t even have a message…” and then I laughed out loud. It could be an actual quote, for all we know, ha ha. 🙂

      The man’s shirt says F* Donald Trump. You can click the images for a larger version. I heard a music video the other day, in which a couple of guys rap a song that has that exact message, so I’m wondering if the shirt is related to the song. But in any case, what strikes me is that the message is not polite, and it leaves you with no doubt as to where the man stands on the issue. That kind of boldness is great.

  5. I’ve already signed a petition for impeachment. I hope it happens soon. I can’t do crowds of people or march but I am delighted you were able to go down there and brave the rain. He has the whole world in an uproar. The people wanted change and they got what they wished for. You know what they say about wishes. He is a boy, not a man. And he continues to behave like a 2 year toddler having temper tantrums. I stopped watching most of the news because his face on it makes my skin crawl. Great photos of the march.

    1. Yes, as someone recently put it: All Trump All the Time. It’s best sometimes not to interact at all, so your own natural buoyancy can overcome the distressing news.

      I heard another thing very inspiring yesterday! I think it was on the BBC. There was an interview with people in the news business, and they said that media has been lazy for too long, and they think this is going to be the perfect environment to make news critical again. First of all, the man said, the stories about Trump are so captivating that people are actually paying attention the news like never before. So the audience is getting stronger. Second, part of the message that people from multiple sides can get behind is that the news media has not earned our trust in the past 20 years. It has not covered topics that matter, has not been brave enough to disrupt things, for fear of losing money. But this climate is one in which reporting can become what it’s supposed to be. That message made me really excited! I would love for that to happen in America again. I’m so sick of having topics like “whose inauguration crowd was bigger” to take up space in the news.

      Isn’t he just like a child? Ha ha ha. How anyone could have looked at all the facts and truly believed he was the lesser of two evils is nuts.

  6. I just knew you would march! I did, too, in DC.
    What an incredible day and knowing that millions were marching the world over, at the same time, was just amazing.
    I’ve spent a good bit of time making phone calls, organizing events to help elect women to local office, and doing what I can to resist.
    One of my favorite signs “I know this day is supposed to be all about love, but I just hate him” 🙂

    1. I knew you were going to D.C. That is just the best, and I’m so glad you were able to make it there. It must have been beyond description: so much energy. I think your choice for what to do next is a great one: try to help local women get elected (I wish you could have been one of them…but hey, it was an adventure if nothing else!). And that’s a great sign too. One of my other faves was “Trump Hates Puppies,” which is hilarious to me. I didn’t put it into the post because I’m not sure everyone would see it the way I did. He’s so shockingly bad I have actually gone all the way to laughter. I’ll hear a quote in the news, and it’s just so preposterous I laugh outloud before I realize what I’m doing. “Of course he would say that. Of course.” If the United States clings to any shred of international respect after this, it’ll be a miracle.

      1. You nailed it, in terms of international respect. We had a skype session the other night (Alys, Pauline, and Petals) and to hear the non-Americans talk about us … not surprising, definitely embarrasing!

  7. It is a belated remark but I watched my SIL and brother with other brother debate which would happen first: impeachment, WWIII or T. assassination. There is no “go quietly” into this administration, unfortunately.
    Crystal, love is the way our world may move forward. The way those who voted for him, just shocks me. The fact 188 or so people out of 200 at my place of work, an auto parts warehouse. The way I know this is due to when President Barack Obama was inaugurated, there was a large hall set up for us to watch. Six people showed up and we moved to a small conference room. It has made me look at everyone, but the few who I know were appalled by every step since Trump started to gain momentum, differently.
    There are so many crazy changes already made. We can only hope for impeachment, since the alternatives are so much worse. Peace, Crystal. You “go,” girlfriend. ❤

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