This post was contributed by Meghan Bennett as part of our Voices Amplified series.
The Women’s March for me began as an empowering few hours, but became an Awakening.
The day of the Women’s March – Indianapolis location, I was anxious for what to expect. I made plans, told my family I would be safe, and proudly made my “I’m with Her” sign, which had arrows all over to point to all the women around me.
I was amazed when I arrived, excitement was in the air and women were smiling at each other, carrying their signs, standing with their friends, partners, and young children. It was 60 degrees and the sun was shining on us. A diverse group gathered with our passion for our diverse platforms. We sang the National Anthem. We heard from amazing speakers from various backgrounds, including several black women, an immigrant woman, LGBTQ activist, and a Catholic nun. They shared their stories. We spoke about the power of fierce love that can change the world, how to get involved in government, channeling our fear and anger into positive actions, and how to help protect those around us from unjust laws. We spoke about how far women have come and how far we need to go. Feminism at its best fights for equality for all, so there were many platforms, causes both personal and universal. My experience of the March was amazingly powerful, uniting, motivational and educational.
After the march, we danced together, then my friends and I went to lunch to discuss our what we saw and heard. My joy extended until the next day, when I finally opened my computer, and I was shocked. I learned quickly that the media showed a very small fraction of what I experienced, highlighting primarily Pro-Choice platforms and the moments of women expressing their anger. #NotMyMarch had gone viral. A shocking number of women were calling those who marched selfish, saying that women in America need nothing, we are equal. My female friends were saying we no longer have any need for Feminism and my news feed was full of anti-woman propaganda. We were being called “baby slaughterers,” “vulgar,” and “hostile.”
Why had I not anticipated this?
I used to idealize the 60s, covering my room in peace signs, reading Steinem and listening to old protest rock. But I didn’t really get it, not this way. I have been politically vocal, but this was my first activist movement and my first real taste of large-scale backlash. At first, I felt defeated. Yet, the backlash to the Women’s Rights movement has always been strong.
With research and communication, I am waking up more every day to what is around me. I am becoming aware of my own privilege and how comfortable things have been for me until now and I am now no longer able to remain silent. There are people who will stand against women as they stood against the women before us who wanted to vote, own property, or press charges when the boss assaulted them. Marginalized minorities face backlash at every turn every single day. It’s time for me to look to those who have been fighting this fight for so long, to listen to their stories and heed their advice.
There is a lot to learn and a lot to do. The March was an Awakening, and I cannot go back to sleep.
Meghan Bennett is a blogger, non-fiction writer, and former full-time-working-mom from the suburbs currently adjusting as a stay-at-home-mom in the country. If she’s not wrangling a toddler and attempting to keep plants alive, Meghan is reading and writing about parenting, natural living, and mental health. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.