Marching with the Saints

I was okay until I saw a hand-painted sign that said:

We still need feminism

Because they still ask what she was wearing

And then I was glad I’d worn sunglasses.

It is an emotional thing to be in a women’s march with thousands of women, especially if one is your daughter and another is your daughter’s daughter. It can make one depressed that women still need to organize such marches and make such signs.

It isn’t over – the fight for gender equality. But a lot of things aren’t over. Racism isn’t over either even though the fight for civil rights has gone on longer and harder than the feminist struggle. What is historic seems to become genetic. It’s a wicked thought that these sexist, racist beliefs and reflexes are in our genes but I think it’s true. What else accounts for their mindlessness and durability?

As we were waiting in a light rain for the march to start, I saw a man holding an umbrella over his little boy who was sitting in a stroller and his wife who was kneeling next to the boy feeding him cherry tomatoes and crackers. The umbrella-holding man was Latino and he wore a shirt that said:

This Bad Hombre

Loves His Nasty Woman

He held the umbrella off and on as the rain started and stopped for nearly an hour. Stood in the same place, chatted sometimes with other marchers, but held the umbrella steady as a canvas awning shading a fancy storefront. His shirt wasn’t just for the march. I think he meant it. In his genes.

While we were marching, my husband and I held hands, something we rarely do. It makes me feel like a child to hold a man’s hand, a throwback maybe to a time when tiny insults fell in a constant thin drizzle on all us young feminists. Hand holding seemed subservient to me unless the position of our hands was reversed so my husband was holding my hand but that seems forced and ridiculous, this hand holding parsing, so we normally hold hands for a minute or two on every walk and then go back to sticking our hands in our pockets.

But we held hands on the march by hooking fingers, little finger to little finger and it felt like a completely equal arrangement so it lasted nearly the entire march. It’s how we live our lives. As equals. So it was good to figure out how to walk together holding hands, in our own way, but still connected.

The sea of people marching down Broadway from the center of downtown to the San Diego harbor was breathtaking. Roars and applause would erupt, once for three hotel maids standing on a sixth floor balcony waving to us. Dressed in black and white uniforms, they cheered and smiled at us, looking like they’d run down the fire escape if there was one to join us in the march. We loved them an enormous amount in that moment.

Several times, a long line of Indian drummers came through the crowd, snaking their way down the middle of the street through people walking almost toe to heel. We parted for them as they drummed by, their feathered headdresses signalling their coming. On the first go-through, they were burning sage or tobacco, I couldn’t tell, and the leader waved the smoke over us so we felt honored and blessed by them. Protected somehow.And I think they knew it because there was happiness and looks of knowing on their faces.

I reveled in it all, smiling nearly the entire way at the joy of it. So many women, so many men who love women, so much good humor, so much shouting out loud for justice, so much regained faith in the future, so much belief in our power. In my own power. I sang to myself at the end, a song my father played on his trumpet:

Oh, when the saints

Go marching in

Oh, when the saints go marching in

Oh, how I want to be in that number

When the saints go marching in

7 Comments on “Marching with the Saints

  1. Pingback: 10 Things I’ve Learned This Week | Red's Wrap

  2. Thanks for your writings, your literary prose is well taken, descriptive and lasting! I marched for my mother, and a brother I never got to know. My mother was raped while a teen, and had a baby out of wedlock, something I didn’t know until about 6 years ago. I know she had said a date had been harsh & handsy with her in a car, that he was handsome, and she would of probably been willing in different circumstances, but I was younger & didn’t really understand what she was saying. That baby boy was given to the Catholic church in Minneapolis in the forties as insistence by her mother. I know the area, but not the church, as we lived in that area, with her mom, when the economy was bad and my father went to CA to search for work. After I heard I didn’t search for my brother, didn’t know how to feel. Just felt sad for my mom, for women in general, and the sad lesson life had taught me through my own bad sexual abuse occurrences. We have many shameful things still in our nation. Many we wish not to discuss, but surely hurt millions from the inside out. Inequality, especially inequality in medical/mental health treatment is one of the worse! Why can you have much more than me because you and your parents already have so much more! Why would you get treated, while I sit in the corner crying, gimpy, or in constant physical pain, when we as a nation can truly afford to help…much like our cities’ excuse of not truly helping the homeless, especially homeless Veterans! But I don’t want to digress too much. I loved the march, I loved marching “4 MY MOM AND UR SIS!” “Pussy Power &(cat) NO MORE MEOW!” Because they both deserve, deserved better! And because they both & ALL deserve true power & to ROAR! Because an unequal nation is a lost nation to the lack of wholeness in souls. May you be blessed this year, may more equality come, but until it comes, KNOW THAT THERE ARE MANY OF US WHO LOVE YOU, and want you to be treated equally, Amen. aka Freedom PleaseOrg , my feminite alter ego. PEACE!

  3. I began crying when I rounded a corner in an attempt to find parking and saw this enormous line of women snaking up the street. I cried as I marched with my friend Julie, and when a group of young African American men joined us and helped my friend navigate a hill I sobbed.

  4. I love your description, thoughts and feelings, Jan. It’s been fascinating reading about all of this while in Chile. My friends here wonder what is going on with the US. Take care.

  5. I’m happy for you that you were part of these marches. So many countries joined in, a strong message. (And, no “alternate truths”, eh?)

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