I think we can all agree that it's been a productive year in women's rights. Nonetheless, like many female friends I spoke to, I had reservations about going to the women's march in my hometown of New York one year on. This time last January, I was in DC having awoken at 3am to catch the bus and join David Zwirner gallery along with countless other busloads of people from all over the USA. But this year, I couldn't help feeling that the ship had sailed. Our angry moment with Donald was still ever present but it seemed somewhat futile. Whatever this guy says, he is POTUS for now. The nation voted for him after all.
And other sentiments from discussions (mostly with men, I begrudgingly say) also played on my mind. Hasn't this whole shebang gone far enough? Shouldn't women pipe down a bit now? Hasn't #metoo gone too far? There's no way Oprah, or any tv host should be President...? And what constitutes rape now anyway? And maybe women (myself included) should take more responsibility somehow.
The Monday before the March was Martin Luther Day. Like last year, the timing felt poignant...and the words of one of my favorite MLK quotes "our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter" kept echoing in my head. It's someone ironic that this day of racial remembrance fell just a few after Donald Trump referred to African Americans and those from countries like El Salvador and Haiti as "shitholes". So amidst all my doubt and usual fear, I started to ponder how someone like MLK could inspire, and someone like Trump could dash our hopes. And how those before us must not have felt like marching, those with dashed hopes, told to sit in separate sections on the bus, called horrible names, and definitely had more to worry about than what to eat for dinner.
Pondering all this and "grab her by the pussy" still reigning one year on, I began to get ramped up again and ended up at Walgreens buying craft supplies. I'd decided to turn inwardly to face the outrage, with a new awareness the craft is better therapy than wine. I had no plan, then before I knew what I was doing I started ripping clocks out of a magazine deciding collage was the way forward ...to show through kiddy craft (thx Oprah) that Potus' time is up.
While I finger painted and ripped Bvulgari watches, I reflected why I was spending my public holiday doing this. I'm 35. I'm not married, I don't have children. By patriarchal standards, I'm letting the entire system down. Like all women who find themselves in this position at said age (nevermind divorced or single with a child - god forbid) I've spent many hours feeling guilty and "not worthy" for this and more so under the current administration who can supposedly grope me whenever. Then I started thinking about the sheer feminist uprising of the year. About how New York Times writers Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor had no idea what they were about to do when they hit submit on that publish button unravelling some 27 years of Weinstein's bad behavior and unknowingly gave women world over permission to speak up.
This year, we saw men get taken down, from House Of Cards' Kevin spacey to my own secret deep disappointment, Jeffrey Tambor. I'd just finished his autobiography and he'd reduced me to tears at a talk about researching characters in an LGBTQ center. Denial. It didn't seem possible, was everyone a rapist now? It became difficult not to question every story, to blame yourself...women might have risen, but so has a cacophony of grey area and noise.
So on the day the Women's March, I got up and started playing film clips of the last March and some of those that have inspired me this last year. Oprah of course, followed by Ashleigh Judd and Scarlet Johansson. I know I'm a cliche but by the time I walked out the door I was fired up and ready to go. Minutes before, the govt had shut down over babyish arguments over immigration and DACA - international dreamers (like myself just not white) who just want to be allowed to live here and study. And I thought again as I read sentiments on this by NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of just how different it would be were a compassionate woman in charge.
With no further ado, here are my top five march moments from 2018.
1. In moments of great fear, miracles happen
I navigated through three police barricades to get to my friend. It felt impossible. With my banner and spurred on by the crowd, I somehow found him and his crew from "Gays Against Guns" (an amazing activist collective that pulled together after the Orlando shooting some of whom Dressed eerily as the bodies of the victims). I negotiated, defied and gallantly pushed through 71st st down to 64th st and beyond.
2. Frustration breeds genius
As we danced down the street we sung alternate versions of national songs (America the Pitiful), come on "vogue" became "vote " and "yesterday...facts were facts and science wasn't strange," to keep the Lennin activist dream alive. Someone had made these songs into an artful new line up. Forget church hymnals this was pop music gone anti-government.
3. Human connection is the end game
There's nothing quite like the women's march for a vibe. Let it be known that I have a late night history. I've worked in hospitality PR (read hotels, art, wining and dining) for years.
From the moment I got on the subway in my local stop through to the whole way to meeting my friend battling crowds, I was smiled at, supported and cheered at by 100 000 fellow freedom fighters in fancy dress. There's something liberating in grieving together. No depression here, just a crazy, upbeat defiant feminist high.
4. Signs of the times
I've said it once and I'll say it again. Signs are some of the best poster art I've ever seen as they're a channel for very personal sentiment. It's impossible to capture them here (and some are wildly inappropriate ) but here's a few of my favorites:
5. Never stop fighting for what is right
If we give up, our daughters will still not receive equal pay. They won't be allowed reproductive rights. But it's more than that, people. The decency of so many more people is at play.
This wasn't some march of furious angry women lefties. I've never been an activist in my life prior to November 2016- the day that changed my life.
So march on, bad ass women and the men who support them. Let these marching tools be a rule book for how to live our lives. Nevertheless, we persisted, resisted, and one day, we'll be President.