People ask what the Women’s March on Washington was for, anyway, as if not rallying around a single discrete issue is mere silliness. To them, I say: if only there were a single, simple, self-contained issue. Gosh, wouldn’t that be great?
Here’s the thing. When trouble advances, women are pretty much always on the front line to confront it. Add to that, the interrelatedness of the issues on parade on January 21. Scratch the surface and you’ll see that climate change, immigration, health care, racism, education, the right to facts from a free (unthreatened) press, a woman’s right to choose safe and legal abortion, marriage equality, and economic justice intersect over and over again. These and more are too much for any one person to solve. And they just got a whole lot harder.
So, when the call for courage, solidarity, and respect in dealing with these issues (and in the face of powerful but small-minded vindictiveness, short-sighted national policy, and a traffic of bluster and lies) is answered with the resound of millions of voices from across the world, that’s a good thing. The issues are related, and just as “women’s rights are human rights,” as many a placard proclaimed, the issues facing human beings are the issues women face. So women turned out. Men, too.
But, okay. Sure, let’s talk about birth control and abortion. First, take a moment to appreciate that these are moot, nonexistent matters without men’s involvement. I’m not suggesting we do away with men, or sex. No, not me. I’m just saying that in the context of these issues, women bear the burden; but in no case is a man not equally (sometimes, as in the case of rape, more) responsible. Given the unfair burden a woman assumes (let’s not kid ourselves, look around the world – in many cases lifelong impoverishment and suffering for herself and every child she bears), she should at least have the opportunity to choose when, where, and with whom to have a baby. And really. Are we so starved on this planet for more human beings that we would force women to have children? Which brings us back to environmental issues, economic justice, education, and so on…
We return to the myriad issues on display at the Women’s March on Washington (around the country and around the world), to their intersections, and to the ongoing and increasingly urgent need for us to show up, stand together, and move forward – in person and virtually, in living rooms, offices, kitchens, and streets – for environmental sustainability and all kinds of justice. It’s a lot, and we may be tempted to throw up our hands in exasperated defeat. For goodness’s sake, what was that Women’s March on Washington for? For goodness’s sake that’s what. For goodness’s sake. Now, on ~
A version of this is also available on The Huffington Post.