On Message: Women’s March, Pt. 1

In the wake of the Women’s March there has emerged a swath of anti-march memes that seem to have little or no grasp on such details as what the march was for, who marched, or where the march even took place. I certainly never thought I would find myself devoting an entire blog post to meme rhetoric, but these images link back to a broader misunderstanding that I might be able to shed some light on. I thought I would just take a second to address one meme in particular as an example. It depicts a female drill Sergeant leading a group of women in uniform on a march. The captions reads, “The news seems to forget women have been marching for years.” What is interesting about this meme, and many like it, is that it creates a diametric imbalance between two otherwise harmonious things. We have a powerful and inspiring image of women in the military, paired with words that dismiss the recent Women’s March as unimportant or less important. The fact that women are allowed to serve in the military is a wonderful thing. And it is partially due to the efforts of some of the same men and women who marched in the Women’s March that they have that option to begin with. Similarly, women marching in peaceful protest of inequality is a wonderful thing. And again, it is in part because of the past efforts of the United States military that they have the ability to protest to begin with. The two groups rely on each other and work together. And yet, the implied message of the meme is: women in the military matter, women in the Women’s March do not.
I have seen a handful of memes or posts in this vein, that unnecessarily pit two un-opposing ideals against one another. Posts that imply that the military does not support the Women’s March. That men do not support the Women’s March. That people of faith do not support the Women’s March. I believe this stems from a simple ignorance of the complexities of the goals and people groups that were represented in the March. Far more beliefs, genders, colors, political views, and walks of life came together to be a part of the Women’s March than many people realize. The best way to illuminate their stories and their reasons is to let them speak for themselves. So, I’ve compiled quotes from interviews with participants of various backgrounds, particularly those which might come as a bit of a surprise. These were taken from many different sources. I’ll list the links below.

VETERANS

“In the military, if you’ve got a good command, you can see it reflected in the people who serve under them. With our commander-in-chief sort of condoning sexual assault and even bragging about it, I’m not going to have my daughter grow up in that cultural environment.” -Mickiela Montoya | Army, 2002–2010

“In the Marine Corps, we called women Marines ‘WMs’ or ‘walking mattresses.’ The culture is very misogynist, very sexist. So as a veteran, pushing back against that I’m pushing back against misogyny and patriarchy, and sexism to make sure that women are treated with dignity. And not because they’re anybody’s daughter or mother or sister, but because they’re human beings.”  -Ramone Daniel Mejia | Marine Corps 2001–2004

“Under Trump, I think we’re looking at another war, and I think the military community is tired of being deployed without any real purpose.” -Matt Howard | Marine Corps, 2001–2006

“Folks have tried to create a false narrative that Islam is inherently misogynistic and inherently sexist, and I and other Muslim veterans are here to dispel that notion by standing with our sisters. The oath that I took to uphold and preserve the Constitution of the United States is a big reason why I’m here, because within the documents and tenets of our founding is equal justice under law. That means everybody. On Nov. 8, my mom and I were watching the election together, and when it became obvious that Trump was winning my mom, a naturalized American citizen, asked me, a veteran, ‘What are we going to do if Trump does what he says he’s going to do and comes for us?’” -Nate Terani | Navy and Air Force, 1997–2006

“This is what I fought for, or at least why I joined — for freedom of speech and the rights of every citizen of this country. I feel right now that a lot of those rights are in jeopardy. A lot of people who are in the most vulnerable positions are at high risk right now of losing basic rights like healthcare and just a general sense of decency. So I think it’s important that military veterans step up. Why should I stop serving my country just because I took off the uniform?” -Garett Reppenhagen | Army, 2001–2005

“I’m here today to support the people whose lives will be directly impacted by the policies of this new administration. We need to focus on people of color, women, immigrants — they’re not just going to feel the impact of what’s being done in policy, they’re going to feel it from everyone in the country whose ideologies are fed by those policies.” -Ramond Curtis | Army, 2003–2009

RELIGIOUS AND/OR PRO-LIFE

“1 in 3 women are victims of sexual or physical abuse. Most girls are abused as GIRLS/minors. Women around the world are being mutilated as part of tradition or religious rites. Some women in the world are killed when they are raped. Even in the U.S., women have been punished or kicked out of college for being raped. Around the world and in the U.S. child brides and polygamy still happens. So they have been victimized and they are victims and they don’t need people shaming them for acknowledging it. I marched for them too.” -Renee Contreras De Loach

“I was very concerned about the fact that in 2017, our presidential candidate was such a diehard misogynist. I get that he applied this pro-life label, but I don’t know very many people who genuinely believe he’s pro-life.” -Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa

“We’re here in light of our charism of mercy. We’re here because we stand for justice for those who are most affected by the kind of divisions and racism and inequalities that we seem to be more and more aware of and more and more affected by in terms of who’s being left out. We want to be faithful to Pope Francis’ call in this new year to act with nonviolence, to be peacefully gathered, to stand in unity, to stand in prayer, to stand based in our belief in the gospel and what Jesus calls us to be. Pope Francis, in his letter to President Trump, called all of us in this nation to claim our deepest values, respect for human dignity and freedom. So we want to stand in that place with women and with all people who in any way experience inequality or the lack of opportunity to live their God-given dignity.” -Sr. Deborah Troillett

“Christ stood with the marginalized. His work was rooted in social justice and equity; I try to live my life in such a way that it reflects those values. The act of marching is materializing my theological values. Trump ran on a platform built on every single system counter to the doctrine of Christ. White-supremacy, patriarchy, imperialism, heteronormativity, were the war cries of his campaign. Not only do these systems enforce the polarization of power and oppression, the policies that are birthed from those systems threaten the physical and psychological safety of millions of Americans.” -Mica McGriggs

“My neighbors in Washington D.C. who are immigrants tell me they are very afraid. They are harassed in the grocery store, in the taxi, on the bus. Our churches are organizing in immigrant communities in anticipation of increased ICE raids and the repeal of the DACA/DAPA executive action. I’m very concerned about what will happen to police accountability, training, and oversight under a new director of the Department of Justice. And I don’t want my nieces and nephews to learn behavior from a president who insults, bullies, harasses, and is vindictive.” -Rose Marie Berger

“My faith calls me to speak out against oppression, when it is done to me or to anyone else. Trump’s rhetoric and promised actions are threatening to me and other vulnerable communities who I want to be an ally for. What concerns me about Trump is the entire package. His gross classism while he pretends to cater to the working class; his hate speech and action items against vulnerable communities, including Blacks, Muslims, Hispanics, the differently-abled, refugees, women, you name it; the way he has made hate speech and violent hate crimes acceptable; his disregard and disdain for nuance, sophistication, intellectual thought, scientific fact and considered reason; his appointment of cronies who will forward his own business interests…I could go on.” -Dr. Noor Hashem

MEN

“I’ve had strong female role models my entire life and couldn’t imagine being where I am without them. It made me angry to see Trump and his ilk boast about not only assaulting women, but treating them as if they were nothing but objects.” -Adam Khalid

“Human rights is for all of us, and we have to constantly defend everybody, not just men for men or women for women.” -Jason Leider

“I supported my wife and my daughter in their fight against prejudice against women. I wanted to support women in their fight against uninvited advances and harassments inflicted by perpetrators like Trump. I am aware that a lot of the marchers are young people. I am not young anymore. When I was, I was in China. I did not have opportunity to voluntarily participate in marches that opposed the government. There was no freedom of speech. But now, as a U.S. citizen, I want to exercise my right to a voice, and to enjoy the freedom to openly express my opinions against Donald Trump.” -Li-Cheng Gu

“While I reject the brutal nature of the incoming administration, and I reject intolerance, racism, misogyny, homophobia, anti-intellectualism, and lies, I’m here first and foremost to show my support for my daughters, my wife, and the countless women who I’m so very fortunate to call my friends and colleagues. Like most anybody who gets to be my age, I’ve seen and heard stories about countless individuals who’ve suffered at the hands of bullies, including those who get elected to office.” -Glenn Timony

“I went to a protest at Trump Tower before the election, shortly after the ‘grab ‘em by the pussy’ tapes were released, and was inspired by these incredibly passionate women standing out in the cold and railing against this man who had said and done so many deplorable things. I thought, if I have kids someday, and they look in their history books and ask what I did when all this was going on, I want to be able to look them in the eyes and say that I did something.” -Walker Hare

“When I woke up on November 9, I was shocked and dismayed. But being a white guy, I hadn’t been the target of months of misguided anger and frustration. I actually match the demographic that gave Trump the widest margins. Outside Israel’s Holocaust museum, there’s a Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. It honors non-Jews who risked their lives to save others during the Holocaust, like Oskar Schindler. That sums up my motivation for being here. While I may not be immediately victimized by Trump’s most corrosive policies, I have a duty to stand in solidarity.” -Dylan Lewis


Veterans 1  Veterans 2

Faith/Life 1  Faith/Life 2  Faith/Life 3  Faith/Life 4

Men 1  Men 2  Men 3  Men 4  Men 5

 

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