I've been having a hard time expressing, even to myself, why the women's march this past weekend has had such a powerful impact on me. People have asked me why I marched, what I thought it was accomplishing, and I don't really know how to answer. I didn't have a specific agenda. I am a straight, white, educated, non-religious, middle-class Canadian woman. I have never been raped or abused. I have never had an abortion (or a child). I am comfortable with my body and my sexuality. I am in a relationship with a man who is my intellectual and emotional equal. I have never felt denigrated or limited because of my gender at school or at work. I am lucky.
But I feel a very deep connection, inexpressible but undeniable, to my womanhood and to my place in womankind. (Is it buried in that extra X chromosome, in the blood we shed? Do men feel this same sense of solidarity?)
I have been aware of my own female power for as long as I can remember - it is an indelible part of my identity - and seeing all these women around the world standing together, and being part of the group in my own small city, reinforced this power.
But without exception, there are moments in every woman's life that make her feel powerless, and afraid. I am lucky to have had only a few such moments, moments that did not escalate into anything traumatic or tragic. But those moments, minor though they are, have stayed with me.
The boss at my first job asked me and my female co-worker to touch his new pants. At the staff Christmas party, he encouraged us, at fifteen, to drink alcohol.
An older man pursued me at my place of employment, buying me gifts, telling me not to tell my boyfriend, introducing me to his daughter, showing up at a bar I went to, all despite my informing him that he was making me very uncomfortable.
The married (and considerably older) proprietor of a restaurant next to the store I worked at offered to give me money to go for a drive with him.
I was roofied. (I made it home safely thanks to friends.)
These moments were why I marched. Because men are powerful, too, and because people, men and women both, in positions of power have the responsibility to not abuse that power.
I marched to support the women who do not have my freedoms and who suffer for no reason other than the fact that they are women.
I marched to add my strength to the feminine force that has the power to change the world.