GUEST EDITORIAL: This is what democracy, America look like: The women’s march on D.C.

 

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Text and photos by Melissa J. McGlynn, Truman Admissions Specialist

The 2015-16 campaign season, the election and then the Presidential Inauguration stirred up some pretty intense feelings of anger, frustration, fear, sadness and insecurity in just about everyone around me. As a woman, I felt voiceless. As a human being engulfed in diversity, I felt my heart ache for those being persecuted, mocked, unheard, disrespected and disregarded. The things he has said, rewarded with the power he now assumes, validate the hate, oppression, assault and wrongdoings I am fully aware exist in this world that he has perpetuated.

No one group of people has been left out of the hate speech, racism, misogyny and fear he is inciting in those around me, but as a woman, having been silenced before, I knew that the feelings were too strong to sit idly by while the oppressive language and actions were being expelled into the world by such a detestable person.

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Attending the Women’s March on Washington the day after the President’s inauguration was my first step towards managing the rise of emotions caused by the aftermath of the election. The march will truly be a memory to last a lifetime. Being in that moment, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of other women and men, was wildly empowering, but becoming aware of the fact that the entire world marched with us, on every continent, was something completely different and indescribable. Women’s rights are most definitely human rights, and that should never be forgotten.

I, and so many others, know that this was only the beginning and there is so much work ahead of us towards some (hopefully) big changes here in the United States and in our day-to-day lives. The rally and march itself were powerful and inspiring. The support and negative comments I received going to and coming back from the march were motivating. Traveling with and being surrounded by strangers who have been feeling the same ways I have been were healing. The speakers at the rally and the conversations about why people marched, where they were coming from and what’s next on mission, were invigorating.

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If you are still wondering what you can do, my first recommendation towards coping or managing what is going on around us is to open up to those you trust. If you’re scared, sad, angry, disappointed, you are not alone. My second recommendation is to act – call your state and local representatives, use your voices of discontent in protests, find an organization that is fighting for justice to donate to with your time and/or money. Encourage others to do the same.

As women –  as humans, we are judged, ranked, criticized, stereotyped and labeled every day and by everyone. During feminist activist Gloria Steinem’s message to the marchers in D.C. and around the world, she said, “We are linked, we are not ranked, and this is a day that will change us forever because we are together; each of us individually and collectively will never be the same again.” If we can ever see a silver lining in the past month of our lives, this is it.

We are stronger together, we are louder and more powerful when we unite our voices.  We have to remember this – we are no better, no worse than our brothers and sisters, no more or less worthy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Let “voiceless,” “confused,” “oppressed” and “ignored” transform into CHANGE.

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