I was shocked at how many people “like me” there were as I participated in the women’s march. All around me were real, beautiful, passionate people. People with kids, with babies. People in tuques and winter coats and painted faces. People with signs, people without. Some signs were about feminism, some about LGBTQ rights, some about migrants, some against inequality and others just about love. Everybody was standing up for someone. They were trying to protect themselves, their loved ones and other fellow humans from hate.
The mood at the march was downright joyous. Everyone was chanting, chatting, smiling. People were taking photos. We stepped aside in from the march a few times, just to stand back and take it all in. We were in awe of the turnout. I couldn’t see the front of the march and I couldn’t see the back. As far as I could see there just people expressing their love. People spending their Saturday saying that they don’t believe in sexist, or racism, or homophobia or ableism. It was people saying that they love humanity in whatever form that takes. I was happy. It was incredibly uplifting. I was also surprised by how…fun it was. Doing the right thing doesn’t have to be unpleasant. The things people were fighting against were so horrible, so painful, that I was surprised by the atmosphere of lightness and easy comradery.
The joy of the march got me thinking – where is this kindness the rest of the time? Why do I spent so much of my time putting up a guard to protect myself from the verbal injuries of colleagues, fellow transit riders, misogynistic men at bars? There are clearly many, many people who believe in love, who believe in kindness, who are willing to go out of their way to stand up for humanity. Why do I feel like the rest of the time it’s so hard to connect with other people? And if everyone is feeling hurt by sexism and prejudice, then why doesn’t this collective pain feel lighter? They say that shared pain is half pain and share joy in double joy. Whey then, does the hurt of being a woman not feel any less? Why do my female colleagues gossip about me and try to bring me down? If everyone knows about the pay gap and 50% of the population experience it, why does it still exist? Why is it so damn hard to be taken seriously as a young woman? Why do I feel like I have 50% of the self-esteem as men?
They say the personal is political and that when you connect individual experiences with larger patterns, it’s easier to see that problems are systemic, not individual. The reason my male colleagues get more respect is a systemic problem, it’s not about me. But it feels that way. When I go through life and am not treated with kindness and fairness, I feel hurt. It helps to know that there are so many good people who go to marches and show up for humanity by chanting and wearing pink tuques. I just wish they would show up the rest of the time too. I need these people when I’m crying in the bathroom. I need these people on hiring committees. I need these people to help me survive life.
Let’s bring kindness to the workplace. Let’s bring it to our transit rides and our bars. Let’s show up for each other in the quiet moments between marches .