My first march was the March for Science that was put on locally in Kearney, but it was a fairly small turnout. But I marched nonetheless.
I went to the Women’s March in Lincoln this year. I took my husband Larry and my daughter Sarah and her best friend Avery. I missed it last year, and I’ve waited all year to join in. I needed to feel connected to others who’ve endured this year as painfully as I.
I wasn’t raised to fight back. I wasn’t raised to get angry. My mother –whom I love very much–taught me that anger made me less attractive. My father thought that any women who spoke up in anger were “bitches” trying to be men. I was indoctrinated on Freud’s anti-woman/anti-mother psychological theories. My father has always believed that men are superior to women, that women are “too emotional,” “hysterical,” and non-intellectual. To him, we are guided by our emotions. Even now, when I get angry at him, he laughs at me.
I was raised to be a “good Christian girl,” which in my house meant I was to keep smiling, no matter how much I needed to scream. My father didn’t think I had a right to speak up when men offended me, much less abused me. I learned early as a pastor’s daughter that my job was to make my father look good at all costs. I had to keep our family secrets. Our image was to be one of perfection, emotional control and harmony. When I did get angry, my father would stuff a mild tranquilizer in my mouth and tell me to calm down, he’d say “you’re just like your mother,” and…laugh.
I marched for the little girl who was always told to shut up. I marched for the little girl of whom no one expected much, because she was a girl. I marched for the little girl who was bullied in school, but only one teacher stood up for her and took her seriously. I marched for the little girl who was told all her life that men were superior, women were stupid and emotional bitches, whose ideas were dismissed, and could not be leaders because they weren’t stable. I marched for the little girl who was depressed and had no one to confide in.
I marched for the young woman pastor who had to sit and listen to her senior pastor tell her how wonderful he was, all the amazing things he accomplished and how everyone thought he was so important. I marched for the young woman who had to smile in church standing next to him, knowing that behind closed doors he would yell at her, threaten her, and tell her that God must be a man because women didn’t enjoy sex as much as men. I march for her who tried to speak up to the church authorities who didn’t take her seriously and who said, “he’s just that kind of guy.” I march for her who was better at a lot of things than him, but who was constantly assured behind closed doors that he “was the better pastor.” I march for all the anger she had to hold in, for the trembling smiles she wore while she wanted to throw up, for having to watch him be honored by the powers that be when she knew he could be cruel in words and made his secretary cry.
I march for those women who suffer much worse and no one takes them seriously, or makes excuses for the men, and even elects these monsters to be in office, saying that “boys will be boys.” I march because I’m tired of trying to keep the peace, which means keeping my mouth shut while others around me can express their cruelty and meanness freely, sometimes in the name of Jesus. I march because when I was a pastor I didn’t have the guts to be myself, or cringed when someone outed me as a “Democrat.” I march for myself and all women who are bullied in the name of Jesus or God. I march for my mother who has a lifetime of anger broiling inside of her and whose voice was silenced early in her life. I march for my daughter whom I raised in a culture where sex is a sport and women are conquests, where women are shamed and silenced daily, where women have to fight just to have what men take for granted every day, where women’s bodies are used for entertainment in violent and abusive ways that are accepted. I marched because I thought for 19 years in the church I could make a difference, only to feel continually silenced. I marched because I’m tired of feeling powerless.
I marched for those who couldn’t march for whatever reason. And I will keep marching. Keep speaking. I have two good feet and a voice. And I can vote.