On January 21, 2017, a day after watching the inauguration of a president who had bragged about committing sexual assault, women and their allies took to the streets. In Washington DC, cities across America, and even abroad, a sea of pink hat-wearing protesters filled city centers in peaceful assemblies of people of all kinds, demanding rights not just for themselves, but for all.
"After the shock and pain of the election in November, to march in solidarity, amongst multiple generations of activists, feeling first hand the power of our collective cries, witnessing more love, hope and fellowship than I can even describe, was like salve on a deep wound," our friend Sarah remembered. "It gave me hope and made me feel like we would survive what was certain to be a very dark time in our political history."
It was the largest single-day protest in US history. The best count, according to The Washington Post, was between 3.3 and 5.2 million people total. And not a single violent incident occurred. Way to show 'em how it's done, ladies and allies.
Said Jennifer, who traveled to march in Washington, D.C., “I couldn't stop crying, seeing hundreds of thousands of people peaceably assembled… the most I'd ever seen all together. I was in awe, and my faith in humanity was restored that day. We could and we did matter, if only for a day.”
Big events, like Trump’s election, tell us we don’t matter. Everyday incidents, like being mansplained to or mansplained over, tell us we don’t matter. Being groped or slapped or touched or falling into that #MeToo category: they tell us we don’t matter. The recent Hollywood sex scandals, our beloved icons -- Matt Lauer; Al Franken; Danny Materson; Charlie Rose; white-bread, downhome America, all-that-is-good-in-flyover-country Garrison Keillor: these men all say that we don’t matter.
We need to teach our kids that women do matter, and that we can use our united power to stand up for the rights of others. This lesson in solidarity is a vital one. It’s one our kids need to learn, need to breathe in, need to see and move through. In a world of toxic values, they need to see positive female solidarity.
As Shauna said, “I marched in DC, and I felt the wave of justice, equality, inclusivity, and power that builds when a million women and their allies rise together.”
Your kids, boys and girls alike, deserve to feel that too.
And that’s why you should bring your kid to the Women’s March 2019 on January 19th. You can head to DC, or you can find an updated list of local marches on the Women's March Site (link).
A lot of people are scared to bring their kids to protests, and we get it. Protests can be scary. There are big crowds where it’s easy to lose small people. It’s loud. They don’t sometimes get what’s going on, and may run around or whine, “When can we go home?” We’ve been there, trust me. We have so been there. But the civic engagement is important, because even if they start out like that, they end up like this:
Toriah and her daughter wearing matching America the Wonderful shirts.
So how do you and your kids get the most out of this experience? There are several easy things you can do to make sure you’re both involving and protecting them while they learn about peace, justice, and the American way.Give them a sign of their own making. Talk to them about the goals of the march/rally (some places, like Charleston, SC, are having rallies for reasons of accessibility). Then help them make a kid-sized sign they can hold, and affix it to a stick if it’s allowed (check local ordinances). You may have to help with the lettering. Encourage them to illustrate it.
Know your potential bathrooms. All of them. Trust us. You might make use of every single one, so get to know your route ahead of time.
Think the marches don’t have an effect on kids? They have a profound effect. There are kids out there determined to overturn the patriarchy over education and a Women’s March. After last year's march Alex, age 5, said to his mother, "Take your hands off my mama! That's what I will say to President Trump if he touches your bagina without asking permission."
We’re raising strong women -- brave women unafraid to take their rightful place in the world -- and we're also raising their allies. That’s why these marches are so desperately important. And there are moments of magic, like this one Ebba remembers from marching in Seattle:
"Our massive, slow moving crowd, sandwiched between sky scraping buildings, grew eerily quiet. Heads were turning to look at something up to the right. At an open window in the middle of a sea of closed windows sat an old, black man. He was weeping and fighting through tears to shout the words 'Thank You!' down to the crowd below. His grateful tears spread like wild fire as the crowd fought through equally grateful tears to shout back, 'You’re Welcome!' The Womxn’s March wasn’t just about fighting for the rights of women; it was about fighting for the rights of all."
So take your kids. Do it, despite your fears. Go. They need it more than you know. And more than needing it, they deserve it. They are citizens, after all. They deserve the chance to engage civically to the best of their ability.
And parents, so do you -- despite your small people in tow.