Saturday, we took a walk through Seattle with 100,000 of our closest friends.
The official title of the event was Womxn’s March on Seattle, the “x” acknowledging the impact of discrimination based not only on gender, but on race, sexual orientation, nationality, faith, class and disability, and how different forms of discrimination often intersect, overlap and reinforce each other.
Seems that sort of behavior has been on the upswing lately. And since becoming official policy on January 21, a few million people decided to address the issue peacefully, joyfully and in multitudes not seen since the Iraq War protests.
So many causes were represented, from Black Lives Matter to Planned Parenthood, yet the common thread was a defiance to a newly-anointed administration that believes civil rights are nothing more than “alternate” rights.
Frankly, I haven’t experienced discrimination. I’m a white guy, and contrary to what a lot of rightward leaning hombres blancos may think, we pretty much reside at the top of the privilege pyramid, right there with Yertle the Turtle:
The star-bellied Sneetches:
And Don Draper:
Seriously, the closest I’ve ever come to being discriminated against is when the lunch lady looked at my protruding belly and told me it might not be the best idea to get seconds on hamburger gravy. Innocuous as her comment may have been in the big picture, it still didn’t feel very good along with all the other insults I heard as a fat kid. Even so, I can’t imagine what it must be like to endure that kind of bullshit on a weekly, if not daily, basis your entire life.
Which brings me to the march. And rather than trying to describe what happened, I’ll do my best to illustrate the day in semi-accurate diary form.
10:57 AM—My wife and I arrive at Judkins Park/Playfield. Crowded as all get-out, but naturally not too crowded for the ultimate documentary evidence, the selfie:
11:45 AM—Still not out of the park yet, but lots of folks behind us now. As you can see, feline-based headwear dominates the scene:
12:38—Finally out on Jackson Street. Great signs everywhere, including "Viva la Vulva," "If men got pregnant, you could get an abortion at the ATM," and this one:
My bride chose not to carry a sign, but it's not like I didn't provide her with some good ideas. Among them were "Donald Trump: at your cervix," and "You've got Melania, so stay away from m'labia."
Not interested, even when I posed it to her in an Irish brogue.
By far the most prevalent sign is one that reads, "This pussy grabs back." Hmm. Okay, ouch.
1:02—People packed the street in both directions as far as the eye could see:
One of the day's coolest aspects, other than the perpetual electric buzz of being around so many like-minded people, is the constant groundswells of cheering, usually forming blocks away and spreading over the crowd in waves.
1:29—Two bald eagles soar in circular formation over the march. Would've been even cooler if two people behind us hadn't started singing, "This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius, age of Aquarius..." That was a little too over the top for even this hippie commie AARPnick.
2:15—Taking a bathroom break at the Seattle Public Library. Here's the view:
This, which is about halfway into the march, is where we first encountered Seattle police. Were they wearing riot gear, champing at the bit to break some heads and douse a few mugs with habanero spray? Heck no. In fact, one cop is stationed by the women's bathroom, letting people in a few at a time and making sure the toilet paper is fully stocked.
So, yeah, sorry to disappoint my conservative pals who envisioned a day of chaos and thuggish violence; WTO 1999 this is not.
2:41—Still haven't gotten over how chill this whole thing is. Everyone is so joyful and every block or so are bull horn stations where people wait in line to say their piece while standing on actual soap boxes!
3:10—Seattle Center! Of course, I insist that we touch the fountain to signify the ceremonial to the march, because that's what we OCD types like to do. My wife, ever the good sport, agrees, so naturally, as any good documentarian does:
I take another selfie.
Afterward, I couldn't help but imagine how opposite the process of peaceful protest was for the Freedom Riders and other civil rights marchers of the '50s and '60s, back when organized resistance was met with violence, humiliation and imprisonment. I doubt that many police officers back then handed out toilet paper or high-fived students on their way into the South's first integrated public schools.
We have so many people to thank for their sacrifice, and a responsibility to use our privilege to resist the new tyranny seeping from the Oval Office. Get involved!