For many women who attended the Women’s March, becoming an activist was kinda like waking up after a one-night stand, looking over at the dude sleeping next to you and wondering, “Now how the heck did that happen?”
The evidence is there. Hand-made signs propped up in the garage. Maybe a pink hat or two in the front hall closet. You know who your Senator is and how to reach him. (I say “him” because I have an 90% chance of being right on that.)
And perhaps you’ve sent him an email or called his office about issues you had no idea even existed four weeks ago. (Cabinet nominations? I didn’t know that was a “thing” until this year, and I’ve been a card-carrying voter since 1992.)
You’re conversant in a slew of acronyms (ACA, NoDAPL, NSC) and new phrases like “alternative facts” and “false media.” And you’re really, really pissed about them.
Even though I’ve identified as a feminist since my high school days, I never considered myself an activist. That label was for angry people. People with issues. And I considered myself a relatively nice person with a relatively normal, issue-free life.
Mostly because of privilege (of which I have a lot, despite being born female) and partly because I’d lulled myself into believing that women were on the rise.
But right after the Trump Apocalypse, I signed up for the Women’s March. I’ve never marched in anything before except high school parades. To me, marches were a thing of the past.
Yet like a newly-hatched sea turtle with this overwhelming need to get to the ocean, it was calling me, and although I didn’t know exactly why, I knew that’s where I needed to be, even if the seagulls tried to eat me.
Speaking of seagulls, I was nervous that my daughter and I might be risking ourselves in some way by attending. Marches can take on a life of their own, and given the right circumstances, they can turn into mobs, which are legit dangerous things.
That said, I struggled to envision a bunch of women setting cars on fire or breaking windows. Violence and mayhem are not typically a women’s way of dealing with conflict. And really, who’s gonna clean up that mess afterwards? We knew better than to do that to ourselves.
Then there was the fear of the counter-protesters rolling in with their hate and maybe even their violence. But deep inside, I knew all the nice ladies with their cute pink hats would become poster-wielding ninjas if something like that went down. (Especially the grandmas. They seem especially angry nowadays.)
It did cross my mind that some crazy person might shoot at us. So I took stock of my life and decided I’d make a good martyr for middle-class mothers. That’s a segment of society with a lot of untapped power, and seeing one of their own go down might be just the ticket to unleash it.
So all told, I felt quite safe. And strangely ready to die if needed.
Does that make me an activist? Yes, I think it does.
And if you’ve read this far into my post, you might be an activist, too.
You might be an activist if you are afraid of terrorists attacks (I mean, who isn’t?) but don’t think throwing hate at the entire Muslim world is going to make us safer.
You might be an activist if you have a uterus and would like men to stop talking about it, let alone making laws about how you use it.
You might be an activist if you care about the environment, public education, science, or national security. Because all of those things are under attack right now. (And I can’t believe I just wrote that.)
You might be an activist if you have a child. Or know a child. Or sometimes see a child at the grocery store or at the park. Because what’s imprinting on their young minds and hearts as “normal” is anything but.
You might be an activist if your family immigrated here one year ago or hundreds of years ago, and the thought of a wall brings up memories of communist Russia.
Speaking of Russia, you might be an activist if you wonder just how much they were involved with Trump’s election. (Or you might be a paranoid conspiracy theorist.)
You might be an activist if you have a friend or loved one whose nationality, sexual identity, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, ability or socioeconomic status make them even more vulnerable than they were before. As if they were not already vulnerable enough.
Yes, you might be an activist, and you probably always were. Because like most people, you probably value things like love and respect. You probably were taught to believe America is the land of the free and the brave. And you probably know this is only going to get better if everyone, every single one of us, finds that little bit of activist in ourselves and does something.
Even if it’s just reading this post.
PS – Share this post with a friend and you’re not just a one-night stand activist, you’re a revolutionary. (More on that in my next post.)