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

IMG_2312

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.

++

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.

++

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.”

++
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

++

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

++

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

++

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.

++

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.”

Like this? Share it! Sign up for my Sasha's list to get thought-provoking weekly inspiration.

ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE? Sign up for quirky inspiration and tips from Sasha. It's free!



Sasha Cagen is the author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us. She coaches women on sex, dating/relationships and career via Skype from Buenos Aires where she also leads transformative tango vacations to help her clients reconnect to their confidence, sensuality and lust for life through tango.

Posted in Feminism

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

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.

Come away with me to Buenos Aires

Discover yourself through a Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires.

Sasha on CNN + @Google

Read more about. . .

Currently Reading

The Particular Sadness of Chocolate Cake by Aimee Bender