Marching Forward

January 27, 2017 - 6:37pm -- swingbug

Did you march? That's how most my friends and acquaintances are greeting each other this week. Did you march?


I didn't. I thought about, wavered, went back and forth, and ended up not. Ultimately, the deciding factor for me was that, as it shook out, I would have had to bring my small son with me. The Sacramento Women's March was tens of thousands of people strong and I was afraid that, in addition to dragging him through the rain and hail, things might really get out of hand, might get violent, and so we stayed at home. (It's worth noting that these fears turned out to be unwarranted; it was by all accounts a peaceful event.)


That wasn't my only reason.


Mostly I've been spitting venom throughout the whole of the last two weeks over a parade of worst-case-scenarios come true in Washington, from unbelievably biased cabinet nominations, to having to choke out the words "President" and "Trump" in the same sentence, and then an almost immediate assault in women's reproductive rights and climate science. It's taken me this long to come up with a blog post that passes my standard 24-hour re-evaluation filter.


And come Saturday morning, here is where I was. Sure, Shannon, you can march. You can march from one side of town to the other, but when you get there, you're going to be standing in the same damn predicament you're in now. It's not going to change anything. So, what are you going to do to change it? That's the part that you need to sign up for.


"It doesn't do anything."


"Now, wait a minute," my dad said in the middle of my morose phone rant on the topic, "we marched to end the Vietnam War. We marched for the civil rights movement."


"Right, okay, and maybe that starts something. Maybe it gets people moving, but moving your feet doesn't actually change policy. How do we actually fix it?"

"I don't know. I don't think anyone has the answer to that right now."


(As an aside, my parents were champs for listening to me and letting me vent and blast the universe apart with my frustration over the weekend. God bless people who love you enough to deal with you when you have no interest in being reasonable.)


My friend Chezza just wrote a good blog post a few weeks past in which she touched on some of this. She did march and seemed find it inspiring, which is awesome and I'm proud of her.


Elie Wiesel said, "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." Point taken. I get that. But I'm not powerless. Not yet. So I didn't march; maybe I should have. I think pulling myself out of the public until I can gather my thoughts and figure out the best way to say what I need to say in a logical fashion is a fair choice though. Lots of folks were already there.


But as I stayed home my laptop and I covered some ground together. I'm looking for ways that work to move forward. I joined my local chapter of the League of Women Voters. I wrote some letters to my congressional representatives.


I think the sheer show of numbers from marches all over the world was pretty amazing. And if it inspires us to work together, our there in the world, and here in the USA,  to protect what we've built together, to stand up for equal rights for women, and for minorities, and for immigrants, and for scientists, then awesome.

Marching forward, right?





And, as an aside, because it's another frequently asked question, no, I most certainly did not knit a pussyhat. Let's delve, shall we? I'm a knitter and a feminist and so everybody seemed to think I'd be all over this one. Not so much. Here's my take. The term "pussy" in this context is a derogatory word for female genitalia. Along with terms like "beaver", it serves to dehumanize women in about the most blatant way possible. (Ever notice that slang terms for male genitalia tend to be proper names like dick, willy, johnson, etc., and women get animal terms like beaver and pussy. Hmm...) "Pussy" is not a term I would ever self-apply. I would not apply it to another woman, and anyone who applies to me is looking for an argument.


I can admire a well-implemented knit-along, and this was certainly that. And to their credit, the founders of the pussyhat movement do address and discuss the derogatory nature of the term, which I appreciate.


But for myself, I don't think it's amusing and I don't want to reclaim the word "pussy" for womankind. I'm a big believer in scientific names for body parts. It's not a pussy; it's a vagina. If you want to knit a fleet of pink hats that look like big vaginas to wear, well, it'd be a curious choice, but one that I would find that more direct and less vulgar. (Though, admittedly, it would be a more challenging knitting pattern.) Even better, though, how about the brain hat idea for the science march? I'm all over that one.


If you were a proud pussyhat knitter and/or wearer, I'm not denouncing your choice for your headwear. I'm certainly not calling you a bad feminist. The heart of the pussyhat project was to support equal rights for women, which is a point on which you and I most certainly agree. But for me, I can't put something that I find to be a detriment to our gender on my head or on my needles. If you don't feel that way about it; that's cool. We can still work together in the battles that lay ahead. We've got bigger fish to fry, you and I, than this minor point of contention. But, my blog = my opinion, and so there it is. There is space for comments below if you feel inspired to contribute your opinion for further debate. Because talking and listening and hearing each other out? Always a good choice.

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Submitted by Katy on

I'm interested to hear your pussy hat thoughts, I genuinely thought people were knitting anatomically correct hats, because dissection frog patterns etc.

In the end I knit and wore one, and am knitting another two because the weans wanted one each and I wanted one that wasn't acrylic. I think I'm generally with you on the pussy reclaiming continuum, but because I'm so far away, I see the hat as a useful visual symbol of solidarity. (But I'm keeping an eye out for suffragette sashes...)

Keep fighting.

Submitted by Jenn on

I agree with your objection to the term "pussy". My understanding of the hats, though, was that they were created specifically to mock the use of the word in a certain well-publicized recording, and that they were made to resemble cat ears to point out where the word might more appropriately be used. That might, of course, just be my own projection. I also did not march, in part because of needing to bring the kids (two kids under 5 at a march seemed...ill-advised) and in part because of a sudden fever the night before, nor have I cast on a pink hat yet, but I am heartened to see so many people with different opinions standing together.