All day Saturday I walked around with a heavy heart. Women’s marches were taking place all over the world. Women banned together to make a stand for equality. It should have been a beautiful thing for me to witness, for me to participate in. But it wasn’t. At the end of the day, as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed chock-full of pictures from marches all over the country, I finally identified this emotion I had been carrying with me all day. This was like the pain of high school all over again. This was the cool kids party that I wasn’t invited to. Actually, it was even worse than that. It was a high school party I wasn’t invited to and expressly told not to attend when I heard whispers about it from those who got the glossy invitation.
I consider myself a feminist. My dad and several of my siblings will tell you I’m liberal – at times shockingly so considering the family I grew up in. I believe in equal rights for men and women. I believe in breaking all those horrible glass ceilings that exist in the workforce. I used to work in a male-dominated profession and constantly worked to prove that I was more than a feminine form sitting across the desk. I really thought we would be inaugurating our first female President this year – and was excited to live through such a historic moment. I believe sexual assault is a horrible reality for so many women today and it needs to be stopped. I believe all women should be paid what their male counterparts are paid. I know how to change a car tire, check fluid levels in my car and how to patch a hole in the wall. I can wield a hammer and shoot a bow and arrow. I worry about having a President who has so blatantly disrespected and objectified women in the past. I wanted no part in his election and fear what it means to support a President, because he is your country’s president, when you don’t agree with him on so many levels.
Given all of the above reasons, and so many more that I am not going to bore you in illuminating, I assumed the Women’s March would be something I could get behind. What could be better than women standing together to peacefully demand equality? It hearkens back to the suffragette movement and made me think of the scene in Mary Poppins when the women are boldly and fashionably marching off to rally for change. They are brave and vibrant. They hold their heads high and are so sure that change is inevitable. In my head, initially, I was envisioning being part of something momentous and meaningful. But then everyone around me began getting their invitations and mine never arrived.
I should have known I wouldn’t get an invitation. I should have realized my desire for equality, my abhorrence of sexual violence, my deep-seated disdain for the objectification of women, my need to be heard and my real concerns about our current President wouldn’t be enough to get me in. Because I’m Pro-life, or anti-abortion as we say in the Journalism world, and that means I’m not welcome.
Apparently, a conviction about when life begins and how every person should be treated makes me anti-woman. But I am not anti woman. For example, did you know that according to UN statistics, there are some 100 million girls missing around the world. Missing because they have been discarded on the sides of roads, drowned, maimed or thrown away in garbage cans; but the majority of them are missing because they have been aborted through sex-selective abortions. Imagine the number of women who could have marched today if those missing girls weren’t missing at all but living and rallying for their rights. It’s not anti-woman to think this is a travesty.
I’m not naive. I understand abortion is a polarizing and honestly complicated issue. I know it is emotionally charged and for many it is seen as religious intolerance. But isn’t it intolerant to ban feminist pro-life groups from the March? To tell them they as women aren’t welcome? The work force already tells us that. We aren’t good enough to receive equal pay and apparently some of us aren’t good enough to stand with our fellow sisters in solidarity for women’s equality.
Honestly, being told not to attend the Women’s March hurts more than not getting invited to that high school party. When I didn’t get that teenage invitation I went home and cried to my mom asking her why some girls didn’t like me, why I didn’t get invited to the party half the class was attending, what I should do to fit in. Years later she told me that day was one of the hardest for her as a parent because it breaks your heart to see your child not loved and accepted by her peers. My heart feels as though it is breaking now – probably as my mom’s did all those years ago. Again I am not accepted by my peers, by the very people who are demanding equality. Okay, so I have a different opinion about one issue but we agree on so many others. Why does that have to be the decisive one? Why can’t I be loved and respected and appreciated by my fellow American women and still believe abortion is a travesty of our times?
My heart is heavy as I scan through the pictures of the party it feels like everyone else attended… And yet I’m still hopeful – perhaps naively so. I still hope that next year, should women rally again and I hope they do, that I will finally hold that golden invitation in my hand; that I will finally be seen as worthy. Until then I will continue to work at proving my worth as a person and as a women. I will continue to volunteer at homes for unwed mothers to give them the support they need in this world. I will continue to teach my students the importance of equality and the detrimental effects of our objectification. I will continue to demand my brothers treat women with respect. I will keep plodding away in my little corner of the world to exact change for women here – so that one day it can mean equality for women everywhere.