Cognitive Dissonance and the Women’s March on Washington

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I marched in DC this weekend, and it was exactly the galvanizing and inspirational day that I hoped it would be. To be honest, I went back and forth on whether or not I should go, for multiple reasons:

  • As a white woman, I’m coming from a position of privilege, and I do agree with some of the criticisms that the March was run by people with the same privilege. (Intersectional Feminism ftw)
  • In the weeks leading up to the event, it seemed like there wasn’t an overarching aim or outcome besides people getting together to protest – my question was ultimately, protest what? It came together more at the end, but it took a while.
  • To be honest, it didn’t seem well-organized. I occasionally have to do logistics things at my job, and some of the stuff that was put out by the March would have not been acceptable.

Ultimately I decided that I would regret it immensely if I didn’t go, and I was right. It was an incredible day.

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Estimates vary, but it looks like I was out on the National Mall with 1 million or so of my fellow Americans, marching toward the White House (and Trump’s hotel down the street), all coming together to protest the way that all women in this country have been treated.  It was peaceful, and there was a sense of camaraderie unlike anything I’ve ever seen (bar watching an Alabama game in Tuscaloosa). Like many people (all of us special snowflakes), I’ve been feeling a touch unmoored since November, and this was what I needed; to quote High School Musical, we’re all in this together, and I’m proud to be part of this group.

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What was almost better was checking social media when I got home, and seeing my feed fill up with pictures of my friends and colleagues marching around the world. It gives me hope that there will be actual change from this movement – it’s hard to ignore 4 million people in your backyard and on your TV screens.

What was confusing to me has been the almost vitriolic backlash by women who claim the march is not “for them.” That they don’t need it because they are all taken care of – um, hi. You’re not the reason there was a march.

I marched because I work in a field where gender rights and stigma and discrimination are something that defines every facet of our work. I marched because I want to be able to look other women in the eye. I marched because while I don’t feel personally victimized or marginalized, there are women around this country who face that every day. I marched for every woman in America, even if she didn’t want it.

Last week, President Obama released his Farewell Letter, and I think a phrase from it sums up why I feel this way: “The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘we.’ ‘We the people.’ ‘We shall overcome.’”

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