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What It Felt like on a Visceral, Emotional, Spiritual Level to Go to the Women’s March in DC

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A friend asked me to write about what it felt like on an emotional, spiritual, visceral level to be at the Women’s March in DC. so that’s what I am doing here with these captured moments.

Since November 8, it’s been like one long bad dream that just does not end. I’ve felt exiled. Like we lost our country. My country had become unfamiliar to me. How could people vote for a man who mocks people with disabilities? How could people vote for a man who brags about assaulting women?

I remember a story from Humans of New York, a picture of a school principal staring forlornly out in the distance of the Hudson River in New York in the days after the election. The elementary school kids at her school chanted, “Build the wall” in the cafeteria and the Hispanic kids cried. The principal said, “I feel homeless.”

The Women’s March in DC January 21 felt like a homecoming. Reality came into focus again: this is Real America.

We are better than this.

We are many. We are millions. We are not giving up.

I saw how many fighters there are. We are going to do this.

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Since the election we have all reacted in different ways. I have felt like an outlier because I was using the word “fascism” on Facebook very quickly. It’s become clear that I am a “fighter.” I didn’t know that about myself because I haven’t been a big activist since college. My activism had been dormant.

But I am. It has been a surprise. The great thing about the Women’s March is to see that there are millions of fighters.

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I took the bus from New York to DC Friday afternoon: a normal bus, not a chartered one, from Port Authority full of women and men on their way to the March. Every seat was full and they seemed to be running four extra buses at 4 pm. My seatmate was talking on the phone. I overheard her say, “Yeah, my mother told me about tear gas. Great that sounds fantastic.”

I sent out a newsletter to my quirkyalone list on the way (the bus had wifi) and a woman wrote me back, “Please avoid hurting people and objects, please avoid smashing things and destroying things.”

Her message surprised me. Why would she think I would smash things? I come across as a pretty peace-loving writer, life coach and tango teacher. I assume she saw media images of anarchists damaging property on the day of the Inauguration. But we are not anarchists, we are feminists. I could tell a lot of people would be scared of going to the Women’s March. But the scariest thing would be to fear going to the Women’s March. That’s when we know we are in trouble.

After having traveled through South America solo as a woman for a year, I know living with an energy of fear invites more danger into your life. Living with an energy of confidence makes you safer.

We are free and we need to use our freedom. And that’s what happened. This was the biggest day of protest in U.S. history with 500 protests nationwide.

In the line at the rest stop, my seatmate and I chatted while we waited in line for the bathroom.

She said, “Can you believe we thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen in 2000? If we think that now, can you imagine what it could be in the future?”

She said, “I keep thinking of alternative scenarios.”

I said, “What do you mean?”

“What this day could have been.”

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During the rest of the bus ride, I made a list in the notes section of my phone, Why I’m Marching.
Because of pussy power
Because women are human beings and women’s rights are human rights (HRC)
Because there were so many times I gasped in horror during the election. When Trump talked about dating his daughter on the View, when he said women who have abortions should be punished, when he made fun of the reporter with disabilities, when he slandered Alicia Machado on Twitter in the middle of the night.
Because Trump wanted to be man on the year. Person of the year was not good enough for him.
Because connections with other women are so nourishing
Because I’m tired of masculine traits being valued more than female ones
Because they want to undo 50 years if progress
Because my 10 year old self would be shocked.
Because women are awesome
Because I am a sexual abuse survivor and I am so aghast that a man who brags about assaulting women got elected president

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I was tired that day to be honest. I was consciously practicing acceptance of being tired to accept the world is not perfect (I was tired) and the world was not perfect already (Donald Trump is now president).

The bus arrived almost two hours late and didn’t get to my friend Sara’s house until 11. I hadn’t slept the night before in New York. (That’s another story.) But I dragged myself out of bed at 7 am because history and herstory were in the making and I wanted to be there.

The feelings of uplift started on the way on the metro train when we were already filled with a sea of pink pussy hats.

Traveling to and being in the march felt like living in a world of the future where feminism became normal. After years of trying to explain to many people that feminism is not for man-haters, here we arrived at a place where between 500,000 and a million people get that feminism is a philosophy that uplifts and frees women and men. It was like the world was snapping into focus and started to make sense. Where solidarity among women is the expected norm, where being a nasty women is cool, where white people were speaking up to support people of color with their signs and chants.

My friend Sara had never been to a rally before. We lived in San Francisco together for years. I went to many protests. She didn’t go to any, she never felt particularly called to go to a protest. But she was there in full force at the Women’s March. The marches had this spirit of newness about them because new protesters are being awakened.

respect women of color women's march NOW

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A woman walks by in the DC Women’s March with “Nasty never quits” face art on her cheek. I say, “Nice,” spontaneously. I love that. She says, “Thank you.” You have got to love those nasty women.

A woman in our crowd ran into her cousins. The cousin says, “Here’s my cousin, we do weddings, baby showers, and now the end of the world.” It’s a family affair to stand up for democracy these days.

We pass a contingent from Rhode Island. (Sara and I grew up in Rhode Island.) A teacher organized a field trip of students from Central Falls High School. “Aw, the little Rhody contingent!” we say. “We exist,” one of the high school kids says. “And resist,” I say. “I’m going to steal that, exist and resist,” he says. “Go for it,” I say.

protest family affair women's march

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One of the most visceral, cathartic moments of the Women’s March in DC came when we marched past the Trump International Hotel where diplomats are paying for rooms to curry favor with the new administration. The Trump International Hotel is ground zero for the corruption. People say he is enormously wealthy but we have no reason to believe him. He won’t release his tax returns.

The crowd chants “shame,” “this is what democracy looks like,” and “love trumps hate.” I feel vindication. I had come to Washington, not only to be part of what we thought would be the largest women’s march but also to be at the scene of the crime and say NO. NOPE. Not having any of this.

Saying no feels awesome.

Just like it feels good to learn how to say no to someone who crosses your boundaries in your personal life it feels good to say no to someone who is crossing the boundaries of decency and morality in public life. I am deeply satisfied to express a big no to the corruption with hundreds of thousands of others wearing pink pussyhats. I take a video of a snippet of this scene. One of the protesters says, “You suck.” That about sums it up.

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On the way back on the crowded but peaceful, joyful metro ride, a Canadian guy who crazily enough is also living in Rhode Island says, “That was a vast ocean of creativity.”

We never even made it near the stage. Most of the 500,000 to a million people who came never got close to the stage. You probably would have had to arrive at 5 am to get up there. We didn’t hear Gloria Steinem, Madonna, Ashley Judd or Scarlett Johanssen.

But we didn’t care. We could watch their speeches on YouTube later.

The whole point of being at the march was to be counted. We wanted to be one of the bodies there.

In the end, the true power of being there was witnessing the creativity of all the fellow marchers. Their creativity was the real show. We were all so glad to finally broadcast the message of outrage that has robbed our sleep at night.

The crowd was the real show. The signs blew me away.

These were some of my favorite gems.

Ikea has better cabinets.
Men of quality do not fear equality.
My taco is nacho business.
Girls just want to have fun-damental rights
It wasn’t the emails, it was the white males
Free Melania.
Make America Think Again.

This one made me tear up.
“You are valuable and powerful achieve your dreams.–HRC”

I loved seeing women in their 80s with this sign.
“We’re not going back 50 years.”

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Posted in Feminism

Hey Hottie Feminist Men at the Women’s Marches. We See You. We Heart You.

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There have been times in my life when I have doubted, are there really liberated guys out there who want to date liberated women? Sometimes, when you are swiping on Tinder, you lose faith. (Perhaps Tinder is not the best place to look for feminist men!)

Now, after the historic Women’s Marches, now being called the largest demonstrations in U.S. history, with more than 3.3 million attending more marches in more than 500 cities across the country, I can say with more confidence that you are out there. To all the feminist men at the Women’s Marches, whether you came out to join us or you were home watching the kids so your partners could come. We see you. We heart you. We want you. Men supporting female quality is hot!

The Women’s Marches on January 21 showed that when women lead, they bring out the soul of a country.

But it wasn’t just women at the Women’s Marches. There were also lots of men at the march in DC–of all ages, races, and sexualities. (As well as trans people.) A lot of men watched kids so women could go.

The Women’s March was a great reminder that millions of people believe in female equality, but also that there are lots of feminist men out there.

So for a moment, I want to pay tribute to the men. The men who support nasty women!

We don’t need male approval but it’s great to have male allies. We feminist women need you feminist men now more than ever now that we have a pussy-grabbing president until we don’t.

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At one point, I was meandering through the crowd in the Women’s March in DC with my friends and I overheard a guy use the words “male privilege.” Where in my life did I ever hear men talk about their male privilege? I didn’t hear the context of what he was talking about, but I could imagine the privilege to negotiate more bluntly at work without fear of being viewed as a bitch, to be single without being called a spinster, to go out at night without fear.

Here’s a guy who acknowledges male privilege and speaks of it. Right on.

I whispered to my friend Sara, “There are so many cute feminist boys here. Awwww.”

A few minutes later I saw a guy with a sign “END LOCKER ROOM TALK.” Again, awesome. A man who wants to challenge the idea that pussy-grabbing without consent is a joke. Swoon again.

For those of us who are single, the feminist men at the march are a great reminder that there are liberated men who want to date a strong woman. I definitely was not thinking of the Women’s March in DC as a place to pick up a guy but by the end of the march, I was thinking, wow, the world is full of way more feminist men than I knew.

The next morning I held a quirkybrunch for single women who had attended the march. We discussed the men at the march and agreed they were awesome. “I want to meet a man like that,” one of the women said.

I told them, “I’m going to put a new picture on my online dating profile: a photo of myself in my pink pussyhat. With the caption, at the Women’s March in DC.” (I can’t let them think it’s a fashion statement devoid of feminist context!)

For my male readers, I’m not telling you to call yourself as a feminist as a come-on. But if you do support women openly and embody feminism you are going to win with great women. Wouldn’t any self-respecting heterosexual or bisexual woman want a woman-supporting man in her bed?

For married women the feminist men at the Women’s Marches are a reminder of all the men out there who want equal relationships.

I was talking with my friend’s husband who stayed home with their two kids, young boys under the age of 6 so she could come out and not spend all her time tracking down the kids. He said, “A lot of it doesn’t affect me personally as a white guy, but I think expecting that people are treated fairly with compassion and dignity is what we all expect. There’s this American idea of fairness. The American dream is about fairness, even if it’s not true we should strive for it.”

At the end of the day, we got our tired selves home to my friend’s neighborhood on the metro. Crowds were streaming off the metro into Takoma Park just outside DC and when we emerged onto the plaza by the metro entrance we passed a sweet, nerdy-looking guy in his thirties with a baby stroller. He was holding a sign scrawled on 8.5 x 11 paper written in blue-ball-point pen that simply said, “THANK YOU.” He must have been there to wait for his wife as she came home and to thank all the others who had gone to the Women’s March.

We said, “Thank you!” to him as we walked by. Really moved by him.

He said, “This is what a feminist looks like,” pointing to the baby inside the stroller. I couldn’t tell if the baby was a girl or a boy.

My friend Sara said, “You too.”

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Here are some more of the men from the marches in DC and NY. NY photos supplied by my hottie feminist male friend in Brooklyn.

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Posted in Feminism, Quirkyalone, Wetlands

Madonna Nails It with this Brutally True Speech on Being a Woman. Don’t Go through Life without Watching This.

If you have not watched this speech from Madonna yet, I urge you to watch it. It will make you cry and it will give you chills.

Here are some choice excerpts, but trust me, watch the actual video!

“”I stand before you as a doormat. Oh, I mean, as a female entertainer,” Madonna said. “Thank you for acknowledging my ability to continue my career for 34 years in the face of blatant sexism and misogyny and constant bullying and relentless abuse.”

“People were dying of AIDS everywhere. It wasn’t safe to be gay, it wasn’t cool to be associated with the gay community. It was 1979 and New York was a very scary place. In the first year I was held at gunpoint, raped on a rooftop with a knife digging into my throat and I had my apartment broken into and robbed so many times I stopped locking the door. In the years that followed, I lost almost every friend I had to AIDS or drugs or gunshots.”

“In life there is no real safety except for self-belief.”

“I was of course inspired by Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde and Aretha Franklin, but my real muse was David Bowie. He embodied male and female spirit and that suited me just fine. He made me think there were no rules. But I was wrong. There are no rules — if you’re a boy. There are rules if you’re a girl.”

“If you’re a girl, you have to play the game. You’re allowed to be pretty and cute and sexy. But don’t act too smart. Don’t have an opinion that’s out of line with the status quo. You are allowed to be objectified by men and dress like a slut, but don’t own your sluttiness. And do not, I repeat do not, share your own sexual fantasies with the world. Be what men want you to be, but more importantly, be what women feel comfortable with you being around other men. And finally, do not age. Because to age is a sin. You will be criticized and vilified and definitely not played on the radio.”

“Eventually I was left alone because I married Sean Penn, and not only would he would bust a cap in your ass, but I was off the market. For a while I was not considered a threat. Years later, divorced and single — sorry Sean — I made my Erotica album and my Sex book was released. I remember being the headline of every newspaper and magazine. Everything I read about myself was damning. I was called a whore and a witch. One headline compared me to Satan. I said, ‘Wait a minute, isn’t Prince running around with fishnets and high heels and lipstick with his butt hanging out?’ Yes, he was. But he was a man.

“This was the first time I truly understood women do not have the same freedom as men.”

“I remember wishing I had a female peer I could look to for support. Camille Paglia, the famous feminist writer, said I set women back by objectifying myself sexually. So I thought, ‘oh, if you’re a feminist, you don’t have sexuality, you deny it.’ So I said ‘fuck it. I’m a different kind of feminist. I’m a bad feminist.'”

“I think the most controversial thing I have ever done is to stick around. Michael is gone. Tupac is gone. Prince is gone. Whitney is gone. Amy Winehouse is gone. David Bowie is gone. But I’m still standing. I’m one of the lucky ones and every day I count my blessings.”

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Posted in Feminism, Wetlands

Hola!

Sasha Cagen in Buenos Aires Hey, I'm Sasha Cagen. I'm the author of Quirkyalone + To-Do List, and a coach for women who provides a creative, action-oriented alternative to therapy. Since 2000, I've been helping single people shed that feeling "there's something wrong with me" while also helping people craft relationships where they don't lose their individual spark. I now live in Buenos Aires where I coach my clients via Skype worldwide and teach tango as a metaphor to help you reconnect with your sensuality and even find your own feminine power through a 7-day Tango Holiday in Buenos Aires. Want to get to know me? Read more here.

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