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#WhyIMarch: I marched for the Equal Rights Amendment. And I’ll keep marching ’til we get it right.

I’m looking forward to walking with so many beautiful women on a beautiful day (in January! I know!) at the Women’s 1/21 March on Chicago.

Why I march: women still do not have equal rights.

Yes, the “pussy grabbing” tape was my trigger, but that’s the symptom of diseased thinking. This is bigger than a single president. Many still believe it is ok to sexualize and demean women. Who can forget the poignant stories behind #YesAllWomen, #notok, #RapeCulture, #EverydaySexism, #NoEsNo. Or the fact that 70,000 rape kits (that we know of) still haven’t been processed.

That’s just my middle class perspective. Other women face forced child marriage, sex slavery, genital mutilation and far worse than the typical Chicago woman.

Protests work. Eventually. 

I marched for the Equal Rights Amendment (more years ago than I care to admit). At that time, the local police force was all male, there wasn’t a term for sexual harassment, rape was not yet defined as a violent crime, physicians (male, of course) were dismissive, and women who spoke up were told “boys will be boys” and to laugh it off. Quietly, of course.

Although we didn’t get ERA (grrr!), look at what we did get:

  • Title IX
  • Anti-discrimination suits that paved the way to better jobs and (somewhat) better pay
  • Rape redefined as a crime of violence
  • Laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation
  • Women in the military
  • Three women on the Supreme Court
  • More women in Congress
  • Birth control and pregnancy covered by insurance (mostly)
  • An official, party-nominated woman running for President.

Do we have equality yet? Not even close. We still face glass ceilings, pay gaps, lack of child/elder care, racial/cultural discrimination … and physical attacks that are still dismissed all too frequently.

Heck, we’re charged more just to get our shirts cleaned.
We’ve made progress – slow and painful – but progress. If the road to equality were easy … we wouldn’t need to march.

Focused on equality. 

Saturday will be a gorgeous day for a walk. I’ll soak in the sun, the signs, the warm energy of 50,000+ other marchers, and the self-confidence that comes from speaking up.

Will there be people I disagree with? Of course. I’ll learn from them.

Will some people be there for altogether different causes? It wouldn’t be a protest without side issues. But I’m clear on why I’m there and can avoid distraction.
Will there be harassers? Possibly. I’ll lock arms with my friends, hold my head high and walk right past the trolls. In peace.
Alone, my voice is nothing. Put 50,000+ individual voices together downtown … add in 300 other marches around the world …

We will be heard.

And I’ll rest easy knowing I took advantage of my freedom to speak up.

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