My regular readers know that I try to stay out of politics on this blog. And in the past 7 or 8 years that I've been writing it I've only gotten political once last March. The time I begged you to not put a certain orange-faced politician on the ballot. I begged you for anyone but him.
For a little background, I should tell you that since I turned 18 I've voted for just as many Republicans for president as I have Democrats and even went third party once. I vote for the person, not the party. I always considered myself moderate until the lines started shifting and it became hard to find a moderate politician any more. And when one came along he or she was often accused of being too liberal by the right and too conservative by the left. I like a person like that actually.
But back to the point. Why did I march? I've been asked that a couple of times since Saturday, usually in a snarky tone in a Facebook comment, and the answer simply can't be written in a short comment. I need more space. So I give you my list. The reasons I marched in the Women's March on Austin last weekend. Keep in mind that I don't hold any ill will to any woman who opted to not march and I ask you give me the same courtesy.
-- Women are still paid only 80 cents for every dollar a man makes in the same profession with the same experience. It's true. I've seen it. When I went to work straight out of college at a small newspaper, I was paid very little. Like barely above minimum wage little. I soon found out that the person who's position I took was a male who went to the same university I did and got the same degree I got and had to same amount of experience on the same student paper I did only he had started out $25 a week more than me. I felt the sting. It hurt. I also saw the sexism in the work place when I was told it was my turn to clean the coffee pot. "But I don't drink coffee," I told them. That didn't matter. It also didn't matter that there were no men on the list of assigned coffee cleaners. The men drank coffee but were never asked to clean the pot. That hurt. I marched for that gender pay gap.
-- We have a president in office who thinks it's okay to grab women by the pussy. It's okay, because he's famous. He can do whatever he wants. Actually it's not okay. The fact that he was elected after this came out still has me floored. I can't even fathom it. He also thinks it's okay to walk through the women's dressing room of beauty pageants because he owns them. He thinks it's okay to rate women by their looks and call them ugly names like "pig." I marched against this vulgar language and in support of victims of this kind of abuse and assault.
-- It's not okay to mock the disabled. I happen to have an autistic (Aspergers) child. He sometimes makes movements that are strange and his speech skills are not where they should be for his age. It hurts me to my soul when I see a grown man who's supposed to know better, making exaggerated hand movements and altering his speech to mock a disabled person. I marched for my son and for all the people out there who can't help that they walk or talk differently and deserve common decency.
-- I marched for access to affordable healthcare. Since healthcare has been a priority in this country the past few years I've seen my coverage increase to include mental health coverage for my children. As I mentioned, I do have a child with autism who's therapy is now covered. I also have other family members with various mental health issues that are finally getting the respect they need from the insurance companies. I fear what the next few years will mean for them. I march for them.
-- I marched for women's healthcare and Planned Parenthood. Before we start the debate about abortion I should say that I am pro-life. Abortion is horrible. It's a sin. That being said, I don't think it's the government's place to decide that for each woman. I can't tell an atheist what she should believe any more than she should tell me. I won't force my beliefs on her. If they want or need this procedure whether it's to save their own life or simply their own choice. It's their decision, not mine or the governments. That right should continue to be protected by the constitution. I also strongly believe in the need for safe, affordable women's care and birth control that Planned Parenthood provides. The only way to reduce abortions is to have birth control widely available and low in cost. PP is many times the only option for low income women to get birth control as well as breast screenings, pap smears, AIDS testing or routine gynecological exams. I marched for women's healthcare.
-- I marched for religious freedom. It's not okay to force our religious beliefs on others as I said above. Enacting a registry based on a certain unpopular religion is a bad idea. It can only lead to horrors. I thought we learned our lesson from the Nazis. See my previous blog for more on why this terrifies me.
-- I marched for public education. The current pick for the secretary of education is simply not qualified to lead the department. She has no experience in an educational setting and has never attended public schools, never taught in public schools and doesn't know the first thing about educating the public. I won't even go into his other picks to lead the various departments (hello Rick Perry?). I marched for public education for all children, not just the wealthy who can afford private schools.
-- I marched against racism. It's no secret that our current president is endorsed by the KKK. That alone should have ended his campaign.
-- I marched against a wall. There's no way in hell he's going to get Mexico to pay for that thing. They can't afford it. We can't afford it. It makes no sense. So he's opting to cut the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, NPR, PBS, and every other organization that supports bringing beauty, education and joy to the masses. Which brings me to my next reason.
-- I marched in support of all those worthwhile endeavors he's gutting. I march for Elmo and Big Bird, for the opera, the ballet, film, theater, visual arts and music. All the wonderful things these programs support.
-- I marched for the planet. Climate change is a thing. It just is. Thousands of scientists who've done the research agree. It's happening whether you believe in it or not. Believe it or not the fossil fuels will run out. There is a finite supply in the ground. We need to focus our efforts on renewable energy not continue raping the planet for a quick easy profit.
-- I marched for freedom of the press. We know our current president is trying so hard to control the media. He's demanded a total media blackout on all national organizations. He's decided he's going to pick and choose which media outlets get to come into the White House. OUR White House. Not HIS. He's calling CNN fake news. CNN! We know that fake news site have contributed to his election, but CNN was not one of them. As a journalist I am appalled and disgusted at his attempts to control the media.
-- I marched for women all over the world. Some doubters like to say things like "these women have it so good, there are women in other countries who would love to have the freedom they have." I know! We all know. The women around me were well aware of the horrors women face all over the world and many of them contribute regularly to those worthy causes. They're why we marched too! We marched for them. We marched for the women in Africa, Asia and the middle east where genital mutilation is commonplace. We marched for the child prostitutes in Sri Lanka and Thailand and all over the world who are barely out of the crib before they're sold off for a life of slavery. Let's face it, women aren't getting a fair shake anywhere. That's why I marched!
It was an amazing day for me and my oldest daughter. We were among about 50,000 men, women, and children who participated in Austin and we were joined by at least 3 million around the U.S. and the world. It was the largest mass protest in history and I was proud to be a part of it. I'm also proud that I could find no news reports of any arrests or violence at any of the marches.
So those are the main reasons I marched. Those are the issues I'm most concerned with. Other ladies will have different lists of their own no doubt. But I have my reasons. If you found no reason to march. Great, I'm happy that you're secure in your beliefs. But for me this day will go down in my memory as one of the most exciting and fulfilling days for me. And it's only the beginning.
Lisa On Location Photography