Over the weekend, I attended the Women’s March in Washington DC with my parents and my boyfriend’s family. With numbers estimated at around 1.2 million, it was by far the most powerful event that I have ever been a part of—and a moment in history that I will never forget. Hearing all the speakers and seeing the massive turnout left me feeling proud to be a woman, even amongst the uncertainty and fear that comes with Donald Trump’s presidency.
Marching amongst people I love and so many passionate people from all over the world left me with a feeling of gratitude and empowerment. It also got me thinking about how far I’ve come in terms of my curiosity about the world. I spent so much of my childhood lost inside my anxious mind that I struggled to pay attention to what was going on in the world around me. Whenever anyone would bring up politics, I would stay quiet, praying that they wouldn’t ask me my opinion. Feeling as if I didn’t have a real understanding of the world in which I live in contributed even more to my insecurities.
“I don’t know what they are talking about– I’m so stupid. They are going to figure it out any second now. Don’t say anything, or they’ll know. I wish I knew what they were talking about. I could try and read about it, but there is so much I do not understand. It feels overwhelming.”
It wasn’t until I met my boyfriend a year and a half ago, that I started to develop more of an interest in wanting to know what exactly is going on in the world. He is incredibly smart and articulate, and just hearing him talk so passionately about his opinion on current events inspired and motivated me to want to know more, with the goal of eventually developing my own opinion and voice. It also helps that he has such a patient and un-judgmental way of explaining things to me so that I understand and feel comfortable asking clarifying questions. Slowly but surely, I started to put in a little effort each day to educate myself and stay up to date with current events. I downloaded the NY Times app on my phone and made sure to listen to the news during my morning commute to work. I also spent a lot of time carefully listening to friends and family conversing about the world. The more I began to understand, the greater the desire I had to learn even more. Now, checking up on the world is a daily part of my routine–and I am proud to be able to say that. The best part of all of this is that I now feel as if have a much deeper understanding of the world in which I live in and I can feel my opinion and voice growing louder and louder.
Today I can confidently say #WhyIMarch: for my rights to my body as a woman, for the environment, for my LGBT friends, and to help spread the message that prejudice, racism and bigotry are not okay and that women’s rights are human’s rights. From a young age I believed that even if it made me uncomfortable, “smiling” or “looking pretty” was a valid alternative to having an opinion. I also believed–thanks mostly to popular media–that for women to get ahead in this world, they have to be attractive and appealing to men. Young girls should not have to grow up in a world where their president perpetuates these false beliefs by treating women like objects, berating them with “locker room talk” and acting as if sexual assault is something to laugh about. The new President of the United States has bragged on video about sexual assault, called women he dislikes “pigs”, rated women based on their physical attractiveness instead of character, and concluded that women who have abortions should be legally punished. How can I possibly just sit back, be quiet and “smile”?
PS: The March may be over, but that doesn’t mean the action stops now. Check out the Women’s March’s latest campaign: 10 Actions in 100 Days and get involved–I certainly will!