Story By: Kimia Nikseresht
20 January, 2017.
21 January, 2017.
8 AM: Standing on the crowded Metro, heading into Washington D.C. One woman walking up and down the Metro with her “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” hat. It’s too damn early for this shit.
10 AM: An air of empowerment has taken over. Excitement. Inspiration. How are people so freaking creative? These signs are mind-blowing. Speakers saying important things. I’m making history.
1 PM: Now I’m thinking. As the next speaker’s message resonates with those of the 8 speakers before her, I’m thinking about what this means. The first all-inclusive women’s movement in America. Immigrants welcome, and leading the charge. Muslim women, Black women, Latina women, LGBTQ women, middle-class White women… all are standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Peaceful and respectful.
3 PM: “Real men march with their women!” They sure do! It’s cold. My feet hurt. Alicia Keys on the stage. Yes! Maxwell starts singing. “This woman’s work, this woman’s woooooork.” YES.
5 PM: I’m tired. We did that. Proud of myself. I’m a cute little activist!
22 January, 2017.
Back to normal.
I marched on January 21st, and I am proud of myself and all of my fellow women (and men) who took time out of their weekend and made the sacrifices it took to show up. Showing up is, in fact, the most important part. But we showed up to demand change. We showed up to tell a story, a very powerful story at that, about equality, social justice, and feminism. The story was heard loud and clear. But now what?
Stories paint a vision of “the dream”. A dream that consists of equal wages for equal work, old White men taking their powerful paws out of our uteruses, and an end to police brutality. Our dream is to one day stop having to demand anything at all. Our dream is achievement. And I’m sorry to break it to you, boo, but telling a story achieves very little, in the world of movement, action, and change. It’s the first step, but it’s not enough.
My big take-away from the march is this: one of the speakers asked, “Do you think we would still be asking for this shit if 51% of congress were women?”. No, we wouldn’t. And until women are running for office, the dream will remain a dream.
I’m not saying that we need to all become senators, but I am saying that we all need to be doing something other than telling (and re-telling) the story. When in 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King said “I have a dream today,” it was a call to join him in action. And as Sisonke Msimang so beautifully depicts in the above Ted Talk, “It is justice that makes the world a better place, not stories.” Dreaming the dream is easy, but executing it in the complex, frustrating reality of human life requires long, boring, persistent, meaningful action, not just cute, pink pussy hats. Let’s act, ladies, hats on or off. Let’s get in formation.
Wondering what to do? Check out some ideas here!