Yesterday I joined over 100,000 of my fellow human beings in downtown Portland for the women's march. Most of us were women, though many men also joined our ranks. Never in my life have I done anything like this, but I hope to participate in innumerable future events before my time on this planet is through.
I come from oppression. I grew up as a little Mormon girl. I am the oldest of eleven children. From the moment of my birth, my life was scripted for me. Good little Mormon girls learn to cook and clean, take care of children, serve the lord, their children, and their husbands. Good little Mormon girls obey priesthood (male) authority, even if the authorities are wrong, because god will bless the good little girls for their obedience. Good little Mormon girls don't dream of careers, travels, adventures, activism, or independence. I was a good little Mormon girl. I did was I was told. I became what I was supposed to be, until Mormonism suddenly just wasn't true anymore. What?? My entire role, the scripted play, was based in a world that's even less real than Narnia?
I woke up. I put my script in the fire. I became the playwright of my own life.
One step in becoming my own woman was taking part in the women's march. My voice was added to hundreds of thousands of other voices, one drop in the ocean of change. As I gathered with my friends, old and new, most of whom I will never see again, I felt a swirl of emotions. I stood with tears welling in my eyes as I looked at the women around me, the beautiful faces, the smiles, the heartache, the passion, but above all, the fierce determination to say to the patriarchy, "This is not acceptable to me." I experienced a spiritual awakening unlike anything I ever experienced inside Mormonism. I sang, I chanted, I laughed, I cried, I walked,
Our movement is not "anti-man", but anti-patriarchy. There is a difference. Men are welcome in our movement. We have men and boys at home and in our lives who we love very much. After the march I came home to my husband, who had cooked a delicious pot of chicken soup in my absence, and I baked some of my famous homemade rolls to go with his soup. I talked to my boys and men about why we marched, and the importance of this historic day. I have no daughters, but I do have a granddaughter, and I want her to live in a different world than the one in which I grew up. A woman's place is wherever she chooses to be; in the boardroom, in the oval office, in the kitchen, or in the seat of a fighter jet, and I want her to feel that in her soul.
We marched to tell the world that all people, all children, every single one, can seize their dreams and make them come true. Unfortunately, we do not yet live in that reality. Children live in poverty, women and children are abused, women fear for their safety when walking alone at night, families live in war zones, babies cry from hunger, and too many die. Women live roles dictated by patriarchal religions and enforced by fear of eternal damnation at the hands of a male deity. Living in fear will never be freedom. The opportunities available to me are not available to everyone. Even though I grew up in oppression, I still grew up privileged in countless ways that many dare not even dream of. As the sign in the photograph says:
"I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own." ~~Audre Lorde