Written by Benjamin Hawes
January 22, 2017
As I marched through the streets of our nation’s capital this weekend, I couldn’t help but think of the stories of others who have marched these streets through American History. Millions of people stood up for women’s rights, and I was fighting proud tears the whole time. I marched with sixteen friends who all had one cause: Showing Donald Trump that we believe in women, and we will resist any action he takes against their rights.
Millions of people marched, and while everyone had one goal, they also had their own motivations to march. A popular hashtag on social media for the Women’s March was #WhyIMarch. Essentially, why are feminism and women’s rights important to you? I can’t stop thinking about the American women who will walk through every day knowing their president doesn’t understand or support them. I wanted to step back and share my answer to the simple question.
So… Why did I march?
I marched because women have built me.
Since I was young, women have been the ones to build me up. The women in my life have always been the people who have inspired me the most. My mother and her friends raised me to understand that women are powerful change makers. They led by example in their careers and their passions. They showed me that if I care about something, and if I want to make something happen, I should work really hard to get it. That the high road is the only road to take when you want to make a difference. Because of them, I understand that women’s rights are nothing to messed with.
When I think of my fellow millennials who have changed my life, they are women. When I think about the people who have helped me grow, who have taught my values to me, who have picked me up when I have fallen, they are women. My best friend Kelly is the strongest millennial I know, and she deserves the same rights and protections I have.
When I left my mostly white hometown and moved to San Francisco, I met brilliant women of color, and learned about the lack of representation they have in the United States and through the rest of the world. I became friends with some of the smartest people I have ever met, and they were women of color. Women of color specifically deserve every single right and every single privilege I have. I am passionate about learning, supporting, sharing, and marching for the stories of women of color. Our nation would be nothing without their voices.
Women have built me, and for that reason, I marched.
I marched because women’s rights are human rights.
I believe that Donald Trump represents the largest threat to women’s rights in modern American history. The story of our nation’s history is one of progress and of transformation. We are supposed to be moving forward, and even though it feels as though a wrench has been thrown into the heart of our story, I believe we will continue to overcome.
I marched because I believe that women, who are severely underrepresented in this administration, deserve the right and the trust to make their own decisions. This administration does not plan to protect those rights, and that fires me up because these rights are simple, fundamental, and basic. And when anybody threatens rights that are basic and fundamental, I get fired up.
All men should be okay with women’s equality. Powerful men should be willing to give up some of their power if it means that women are treated equally. Privileged men should be down to release some of their privileges if it means that women have the same rights.
I am, I would, and I will. I am not threatened by the notion that women are people. If women fall, we all fall. If women aren’t free, we aren’t either. Women’s rights are human rights.
I marched because the U.S. President has openly sexually assaulted women.
Unfortunately, we live in a country where rape isn’t a deal breaker, and that disturbs me to my core. I marched because I wanted to be openly against a president who has proudly announced his disgusting record with women. I’m against having a president who has sexually assaulted women, and before the election, I thought this was a no-brainer. More than any other reason, I marched because I wanted to show that this is nauseating.
I don’t need a mother, a sister, or a wife to understand that rape is wrong beyond words. Donald doesn’t even understand or care that violence toward women is wrong. I marched because I do understand, and I care.
I marched because I have an alarming amount of privilege and power.
I marched to support people who have less power than I. There are stories that need to be told, and people need to listen. If there’s power in numbers, count me in. I marched because the new administration needs to listen to the basic demands that all women have. As a man, I marched to help share the stories of women. As a white person, I marched to help share the stories of people of color. As a gay man, I marched to help share the stories of other LGBT people who don’t have the same privilege and representation that I have. As an American, I marched for women around the world who have less power and privilege than us. I marched because there are errors in the way I am treated under laws. I marched to help change this.
I marched because silence is wrong.
One of the quotes I saw painted on poster boards hundreds of times was, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Historically, I have been one to listen and observe when rights are being threatened. Even when marriage equality was on the table, I didn’t fight my part of the fight. Like I have said in the past, this election has forever changed me.
What made the women’s march a beautiful moment for our country was that so many people like me who previously stayed silent, decided that this was enough. So many people like me decided to get up, to stand up, and to fight for what we know is right.
It’s easy to look back at the aerial photos of cities speckled with little human dots and imagine that it would have been the same without me. But it wasn’t. I was there, and I helped to tell America’s story. I was part of this, and it was people who decided that this was the last straw who made those crowds happen.
I marched because I represent the majority of Americans who voted against this.
I believe in women’s rights. I believe that black lives matter. I believe that science is real. I believe that we need to take care of our planet and neighbors in need. I want America to move forward, not back. I represent the majority of people who voted for all of this in the 2016 election.
Donald Trump did win the election. I’m happy to admit that he is the president, sure. But if the president isn’t going to move America forward, we the people will just have to pick up the slack and fill the gaps.
The woman I voted for wouldn’t stand for this unjust absurdity. I marched to declare that I’m not going to either. I am an American, which means I have a voice and a right to use it. So I will march, I will write, I will call my representatives, I will donate my money, and I will fight until women receive the same basic human rights, representation, and recognition as me. Until women of color receive the same treatment under the law as white women. I will work to help white women understand the severity and consequences of their vote for Donald. As my lifelong best friend and feminist role model Kelly said, “I know white women also did this and I haven’t found the words to cover how infuriating it is.” I agree.
I will work really, really hard to help share the stories and demands of the women who have done nothing but support me.
To read about the actions I plan to take, please read my last post, 12 Things Americans Can Do To Reject Injustice in 2017.
I want to thank everyone who has encouraged women and this movement this weekend. Those who couldn’t make it out to march, but wished they had. There’s always next time, and we’re going to be chipping away at this for the next 4 years. We have a lot of work to do to make sure that 4 years is all we need. Please feel empowered to get out there and fight for what you believe in. Vote for candidates you trust. We are all threatened when the rights of others are on the chopping block. We are all impacted by these policies. The Women’s March was one beautiful and powerful afternoon. Let’s all work to create four beautiful years, and beyond.
Thank you for reading! Please share if you’d like 🙂