On Saturday, Pumpkin and I joined some 20,000 other people in Phoenix and millions more across the globe to join the Women’s March. Before I talk about our experience, I’d like to address the question I’ve seen on social media in the days since: Why?
I imagine the answers to that question are as diverse as the people who marched. Some of my reasons are more personal than I feel comfortable sharing. But, like my friend Annie, I didn’t march in protest, rather in solidarity.
This is what I do feel comfortable sharing:
Early in the fall, I brought a library book home for Pumpkin about George Washington. She wanted to know why there have only been boy presidents and no girl presidents. She wanted so badly for Hilary Clinton to win.
(For the record, I am not registered with any party and had plenty of reservations about Clinton – too many to shout “I’m with her” from the rooftops – but I had many more reservations about Trump and cast my vote for Clinton, with Pumpkin in the voting booth with me. I explained to her that selecting a candidate based on gender isn’t the best way to choose, that it should be about qualifications and positions. But for her, that’s what it came down to.)
Pumpkin, who is 5, has told us a few times recently that she wants to be a boy. When we finally asked her why, she explained that the boys in school never let her be Superman when they play superheroes. They always tell her to be Wonder Woman or Bat Girl – but she just wants to be Superman.
I explained to Pumpkin that participating in the March meant that we thought everyone deserves equal treatment. That a girl can be Superman. That a boy can wear nail polish. That a boy can marry a boy. That a girl can marry a girl. That a girl can marry a boy. That everyone should be treated equal as human beings, regardless of where they come from or the color of their skin. She was given the choice of participating and she wanted to come.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wondered what the turnout would be, what the mood would be, if I would feel unsafe having her there?
We joined another friend for breakfast, and the three of us went together. The turnout was tremendous, and right away I could sense the mood was jovial. From where we were, it was hard to hear the speeches, but it was quite the experience to be there among so many other people, knowing so many of my loved ones and perfect strangers were doing the same thing in cities across the world.
Pumpkin at one point asked why there were police officers there. I explained they were there to keep everyone safe, and perhaps we should thank them. When we began marching, I did – and at the same moment a woman in front of me thanked a different officer. She said, “Thank you for being here,” and I was pleasantly surprised when he replied, “Thank YOU for being here.”
My daughter heard a few chants, too, but this is the one that seemed to stick:
“Love, not hate, makes America great.”
She continued chanting this throughout the weekend. (When we got home, Peanut translated it to “Love, not hate, makes your hair great,” we all got a good laugh out of it, and Pumpkin taught her the correct words.)
At dinner that night, we talked about the First Amendment, and how it gives us the right to march, and to disagree, and that not everyone in the world has that right, and that we are lucky to have that freedom.
As a former journalist, this was the first time I attended an event like this as a participant instead of an observer. I know the meaning was different for me than for Pumpkin, but I hope she took notice of all the different people that were there, and realized that we are all humans, worthy of love and respect. I hope she learns to speak up for what she believes in, even if she doesn’t share my beliefs. I hope she never takes her freedoms for granted.
I know not everyone will agree with me, and that’s your right. All I ask is that you keep your comments respectful or they will be removed.