By Sarah Schrock
Each step forward matters. To the Twisp march organizers who did a great job on logistics, thank you. To the crosswalk guards whose orange vests clashed like oil on water in a sea of pinks, the progression was perfectly timed, thank you. With the barrage of different signs and messages, to an outsider it might be hard to understand what it was all about.
What I’d like my readers who didn’t partake in the march to understand about my motivation to walk has much to do with raising two boys. I have the responsibility to make sure they respect women, see the opposite sex as equals, and grow up to value them as humans, not objectify them. When Mr. Trump normalizes “locker room talk,” he normalizes sexual assault on women and perpetuates a culture of objectification. Even if he never committed such actions and apologized, excusing the lewdness as “just talk” glosses over the underlying sexist mentality so ingrained in our culture that many women don’t see it. So, for me, this march was to raise that awareness and send a message that it’s not OK to normalize it.
Equally alarming, when Trump promises to make America great again, he harkens back to a time in our nation’s history inextricably linked to racism, homophobia, polluting industrialism, xenophobia and nuclear proliferation. While I don’t believe that our new president embodies all these views to heart, his reckless rhetoric emboldens those who do. Calling climate change a Chinese hoax — more reckless rhetoric. Therefore, I marched.
This was my first march. I, like too many, had become complacent, adhering to an attitude of indifference, reassuring myself, “let those who know more about the issues, figure it out…I still haven’t figured out what’s for dinner.” The congressional stalemates, the scandals, the finger pointing, it was all too discouraging to get engaged, too emotionally draining because I care. I held onto hope that “We the People in Order to form a more perfect Union” would make progress.
I certainly felt that hope eight years ago. As a first-time mother, in a nation scarred with a history of racism, I was so proud to elect the first black president that my baby wore a “Baby Got Barack” onesie! Things were moving forward in terms of civil liberties; the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage. Health care reform, albeit a windfall for the insurance lobby — no one really loved it — was forward motion. There was no way we were going back to a time when equality would be questioned. Up next would be steps forward on climate change, progress in public schools, progress towards world peace. Moving forward, step by step.
On the flip side of the hope, there was much to worry about. Things like Big Bank greed that spawned the collapse of the housing market; unthinkables like Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; countless police shootings inciting racial tensions; mind-boggling bombings in night clubs, Paris, the Boston Marathon; increasing turmoil in the Middle East; more Wikileaks, more Syrians fleeing across borders, more super storms like Sandy. And here at home, the summers of 2014 and 2015 … Cognitive dissonance set in.
It was easy to push it out of focus, maintain my day-to-day life rituals of raising my family. Here in Washington state, with a booming economy, the suffering of families in the rust belt was too far removed, too alien. Here in the Methow where the meadowlarks still sing, it was too easy to look at the night sky and find peace in the universe.
The presidential election was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We were faced with the prospect of electing the first female president, riddled with scandal, and perpetuate a political dynasty reeking of status quo; or an egocentric billionaire whose bullying belligerence seemed abusive and divisive. When the Electoral College superseded popular vote, all hope in forward motion seemed thwarted. A complete about-face from eight years ago. The steps forward that secured the dignity of women, minorities, and civil liberties for all people achieved over the past century seemed threatened in the wake of an oligarchy hostile to tolerance.
But then, almost instantly a new wave of hope emerged. A wave of political information began pulsing through the fiber optic highway. Women in particular jumped aboard, forming online forums, hosting gathering, sending letters, making phone calls — and we are still doing it. The Women’s March on D.C. was in full swing and over 600 communities across the globe followed suit; Twisp represented.
I don’t know what my next step will be, but I do know that my feet will not move forward alone, nor will the millions of feet that marched forward be forced to go backwards.