Women’s March A Revolutionary Spark For Four Years Of Civil Revolt

Women's march

The Women’s march firing an open volley on a hostile Capitol.

I started this week knowing I wanted to write about the women’s march, a great protest that, from its flagship in D.C., reached across the world to a crowd of 3.5 million people and counting. I had thought of writing about Christy on Facebook and then refuting every Trumpism dismissing the marches as a bunch of crybabies whining that they didn’t get their way (if Rubio or Kasich or Bush or, hell, maybe even Christie won there wouldn’t be a hint of protest; Cruz or Carson might have drawn some people because of their belief in Christian-sharia law but nothing historic). I’d bring up this study that showed young girls are less likely to think women can be really smart than young boys are in thinking men can be really smart, no doubt thanks to the patriarchy (was trying to keep away from buzzwords but what other word works?).

Yet after a week of the team at KTB hitting this topic hard (including speaking on the greater reach and purpose of the women’s march), I thought it would be better to get the point of view of my amazing wife Rebecca, who flew from the small town of Victor, Idaho (a small town that saw half of its population march in solidarity and even put up with a half-assed attack from an unhinged man in a beat up old pickup), to the Women’s March on D.C., the largest single protest in our nation’s capitol in over two decades.

“My March” by Rebecca Ariano

A Plane Full of Nasty Women

I arrived in Denver to catch my connection to BWI, elated to see fellow marchers at the gate easily distinguished by their pink pussyhats. Our individual lists of reasons for wanting to fly across the country and march on our nation’s capitol were too long to discuss, much less write. So instead I asked all the people around me what was their number one goal in this protest. Each woman had one thing that pushed them over the edge. From civil rights to health insurance to Roe V. Wade to simple revulsion, we vented and immediately bonded over our mutual disgust.

As we boarded the plane, I realized that 80% of the passengers were protesters. Women of all colors, ethnicities, old, young. On the flight I met a mother daughter combo from NorCal; the mom had giant dreds and the daughter looked like she was on her way to prep school but they were both equally outraged and ready to march.

“What a great way to get fired up,” I shouted and the Nasty Women erupted in cheers.

My Top Reason — Planned Parenthood

After an hourlong school bus ride on 3 hours of sleep, I arrived in DC with my mother. We were both excited to stand up for the rights of not only women but all people, especially the ones our president had insulted his whole life, including and specifically during his campaign.

Planned Parenthood saves lives. I (and all of my friends) have gone there for check-ups, birth control and other health reasons. I don’t personally know anyone who has gone to Planned Parenthood for an abortion. We have gone for mammograms, pap smears — cancer screening — urology tests, contraceptive planning, STD screenings (according to the CDC, “a woman’s anatomy can place her at a unique risk for STD infection, compared to a man” — translation: some dude can drop his disease in you and walk away) and other types of care, preventative care and prenatal care. And just fucking information. Defunding such a necessary information is robbing humans of health care, women more than men. People will die without access to this facility. Die. Death. The end.

Religious pro-lifers aren’t really pro-life. They are pro-birth. But what happens next? They don’t want to support welfare or public funding for safety net programs, right? “It’s in God’s hands and we should just trust that he protects us and provides.” I guess God just overlooks impoverished communities. That seems fair. Well, what if said people just went to church? Would that prevent neglect, malnourishment, pregnancy due to incest or rape, fetal or mental health issues? Public assistance is only available if you literally make no money. I have experienced this. I have gone through the system. My husband and I made just enough to get by despite working our fingers to the bone and did not qualify for anything. I was fortunate enough to have support and a wonderful capable husband. Many new mothers are not. 

That was why I marched; it wasn’t because I was a “sore loser” like so many Trump supporters are claiming. It was because of very real issues that he has threatened. I marched for Planned Parenthood. I marched for equal rights. I marched for my friends who are gay. I marched for my friends who have been or are in bad relationships. I marched for every woman who has been paid less than a man for doing the same job. And I marched so that my son would not grow up to think it was okay to treat women the way Donald Trump has.

My women’s march on DC

The streets of D.C. were on fire. I’m an introvert. I hate crowds. But I spent money I’ve worked my ass off for — and just for the record, I’ve had a job since I was 14 and now I’m 37 — and dealt with my dislike of crowds to make sure my voice was heard. But I was energized by being around so many passionate women looking to protect the future. For the first time since Trump was elected, I felt hopeful for our nation and for my beautiful, amazing 3-year-old son who will inherit whatever world we leave him.

I met a woman from Texas, a Republican, who told me her son had lived way past his life expectancy. He had down syndrome and the death of ACA would mean they lose insurance for him. She started crying when she said she didn’t think he would live past 35; this wonderful man lives in a home funded by Obamacare. “What will we do?” she asked me. I hugged her. That was all I could do. That and march and yell.

My mom had to pee. A lot. One complaint: The march was not ready for women who have to pee a lot. Lines for the few bathrooms, I heard, were 2 hours long.

We joined various marches. In one we chanted “This is democracy! This is how democracy works! This is democracy! This is how democracy works!”

It was cold. The sky was gray. We were walking on concrete until our knees hurt. Lots of pink hats. It was an endless flow of women who were pissed and hopeful.

We walked by little girls who shouted by what they wanted for their future. So many little girls. And women young and old who had on wild outfits and flashed their pussy power, I almost felt bad for not dressing up so much. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have been so subdued in my outfit, that’s for sure. And I would have made a great sign.

My takeaway: So many awesome, powerful women flew there and spent their energy and time and hard money and fuck you if you think it was all just white, comfortable urban women like some of Trump’s people have claimed. And fuck you if you think women crying pussy power is an insult to womanhood, saying we were being vulgar and in protesting were defining women simply by their body parts. It was about so much more.

People ask what we think it accomplished. I think women, even today, are still so oppressed and they will be unless we fight for them, even if they won’t fight for themselves. And many women who voted for Trump are on the verge of never knowing what they could be. This march united women across the world to show that they are completely equal if not more powerful than the men who have oppressed them. This showed that women could shut down the entire world if they wanted to. And it was a loud message to Donald Trump that the women and children he marginalized, that people of all races and lifestyles, will come together to tell him he was wrong. WRONG.

What did you accomplish?

At this point in our talk, my beautiful, smart, fiery wife broke down.

“We accomplished nothing,” she cried. “He’s passed all these bills, he doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter.” During the women’s march she fought her own anxiety about crowds after having flown across the country and spent 8 hours storming hard concrete to be part of the spearhead for 3.5 million people uniting in revolt. And yet she’s right; they aroused a lot of feelings, got a lotta folks fired up, fucked with Trump’s vanity (I had more people at my inauguration than those non-voting women, than Obama) but he still went on to move forward with his plans to build a wall with Mexico and expanded the meaning of criminal and get rid of sanctuary cities; has cut off visas for everybody who comes from nations where there is terrorism (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen apparently are the only places terrorists come from) and halted the refugee program for 120 days; has pushed through pipelines, has proudly discussed how he’s going forward with his plan to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood (while passing a law that countries receiving overseas aid can no longer inform women about abortions  – apparently he never saw “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days“) and the list goes on.

Trump heard those 3.5 million voices and responded by showing that he doesn’t give a damn what they think, he’s the boss. He did it exactly to cow all those people marching, to tell them that they won’t be able to change shit, he made a lot of promises to protect a lot of scared atavistic citizens by cutting off those who are different – or even just THINK differently – from them. To dishearten everybody who spent their time and money and energy protesting his disregard for basic humanity. To say “My America will be first and your America can go to hell.”

So yes, the women’s march didn’t accomplish any concrete changes. But it’s like a coach’s speech at the beginning of a long, hard game. It doesn’t score any touchdowns, doesn’t make any catches or kick any field goals. But it sets the tone. It fires up the players to get out there and fight. Because if this first week has shown us anything, it’s that everything progressives and environmentalists worried would happen will happen. And if this keeps up, yes, this will be a long 4 years. We’re going to have to fight all 4 quarters and never let up. And sometimes we will lose hope and get tired and frustrated. Some players will need to take a rest and others will need to be ready to step up. But this fight counts. This fight is vital for all who value the future over the present or the past.

And when it’s over, and we’ve fought for all we hold dear, if the size of the crowds that amassed at the dawn of this new era have shown me anything, it’s that there are enough numbers, there’s enough energy and fire and passion to prevail over anything. The women’s march has shown me that someday we’ll be able to look back at this first howl in DC and all over (including unexpectedly large echoes of the women’s march in places like Wyoming) and say “That’s where this all started.” And I will be proud to say my wife was part of that great spark for what became the greatest exercise of our voices and rights as guaranteed by the most basic tenets of American democracy since the civil rights movements of the 60s and 70s.

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Ryan Ariano

Born and raised in Baltimore, Ryan has been kicking around the west since the first Clinton White House. Having worked all over SoCal in the surf industry, Hollywood, marketing, journalism and finance, he now hangs his hat just outside Jackson Hole where he can fulfill an addiction to ascending and descending mountains.

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