By Greg Price
I may have just discovered another punk rocker in my family.
Often considered the politically correct vocal one in the family, it looks like my sister is taking the lead in social injustices she sees around her.
The next time I see her in Pennsylvania, perhaps we can enjoy some Bad Religion, Rise Against and Refused in our mosh-pitting ways of punk music.
For you see, my sister, a very vocal supporter of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, put her words into action last week and participated in the Women’s March in Washington on Friday.
The protest was to protect women’s rights and other causes, including immigration reform, health care reform, protection of the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, freedom of religion and workers’ rights.
Estimates for the march note it drew over a half million people, or triple the number of people that took in Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States.
Or if you subscribe to the ‘alternative facts’ creed, the highest attended inauguration ever, according to Trump’s handlers despite photographic proof to the contrary.
Every state in the United States hosted a Women’s March in which early tallies are stating 3.3 million people attended these marches in more than 500 American cities.
These numbers do not include marches that happened in Canada or the rest of the world as well.
Regardless of your politics or view on the impacts of the marches, if you are not impressed by that (the largest single-day protest in the history of the United States) then really, what is the depth of your soul?
Already the extreme right are quick to dismiss the marches in various ways which I struggle to find strength in their logic.
A favourite of mine is the marches are simply whining over the election of Trump and people should just accept how democracy works.
I find this point ironic among some Alberta posters in that I’ve seen carbon tax and Stand Up for Alberta rallies saturate the area, showing that perhaps people are not accepting the current NDP government.
So one form of protest is whining in not accepting the current government while the other is not? The carbon tax and Bill 6 are still here as is the Notley NDP government, so should we dismiss these rallies as simple whining or should we celebrate the fact that the chance of organized dissent is allowed?
Can we not simply be awed by the fact that we have people of all ilks in North America who care enough and are brave enough to not only say what they are passionate about, but put it forth in actual action of peaceful assembly?
Another favourite of mine I’ve been reading and dismissing the marches is ‘Why aren’t you marching for the rights of women in (place impoverished country here).’
The comment literally means any sort of protest in North America or any other First World Nation for that matter has no merit because another place in the world is not as well off? On a sliding scale, we are better off and so why bother fighting for change at any level. No matter your place in life, there is always going to be someone who is worse off.
Other voices trying to take the power away from the Women’s March movement say that Trump has yet to do anything destructive to women’s rights as he has barely been in office, so why protest?
Trump’s campaign has had many overtures of policies that could be viewed as anti-woman, including defunding Planned Parenthood. Forming a unified voice against a potential policy can be argued is more effective than complaining about something after it is already passed.
You see it all the time here at the municipal level where bylaws pass first reading and then are given an opportunity for public input (or dissent) before it passes third reading.
A process we at The Times have found frustrating when people have phoned complaining about something town council has done when they had ample opportunity to have their voice heard.
The Women’s March takes a proactive approach to this process.
Even if you take the Women’s March at the biggest default setting in trying to lessen its impact that it was simply an ‘Anti-Trump March’, can you blame women?
Do any random Google search and you see decades of misogynist examples littered throughout Trump’s history that brings credence to the opinion that someone with such documented opinions and actions may very well put women’s issues on the back burner of importance.
Given some of the violence and destruction of property during Trump’s inauguration, I had a tinge of fear for the safety of my sister as I heard of her intention of attending the Women’s March in Washington.
This woman is one of the kindest souls I know who has often put caring for others ahead of herself at every turn and so I wondered if such a nice person would be swallowed up by possible clashes with police or others who were against the march.
That fear was quickly displaced as I saw her documented updates and live feeds of the protest in Washington.
Over a half million people at the Women’s March protest and not one arrest, but rather protesters hugging police officers, thanking them for their service.
All I know is that my hearts swells with pride with what my sister has done in participating in the Women’s March.
She was part of the largest single-day protest in a country that has its own impressive history of those brave enough to take a stand, civil activists too numerous to mention that have helped shape the most powerful nation in the world into what it is today.
This is something she will be able to sit around the fireplace with her grandchildren and recount of how she not only talked about fighting for something she believed in, but actually did action towards it.
The very act of trying to lessen the importance of having one’s voice heard with all these naysayers of the Women’s March shows the very decadence and laziness that North American society has become.
To trivialize a thing in the organized dissent the world just witnessed this past week when people from oppressed communist regimes are literally dying for the same privilege, shows just how much we have taken it for granted. Be it from a Stand Up for Alberta rally on the right to the Women’s March which is a perceived movement from the left, all these forms should be celebrated and not belittled.
Why do we need a Women’s March? As I watched live feeds from the march and I read comments like ‘Shouldn’t they be doing something more constructive like getting me a beer’.
I see a man getting six months for a rape involving two witnesses in an open-and-shut case.
I see women in powerful positions being judged by the clothes they wear or the ‘hotness’ factor in judging how important their message is.
The quest for the betterment of everyone in society should not be an idle one. I thank my sister for recognizing that.