Odd bits and pieces of the San Jose Women’s March:
Proud parental moment of the day: when you text your eldest son about being at the San Jose March, and he texts back pictures of where he is in the New York March. (His youngest brother lamented that he woke up too late, and the San Diego March was too far away, for him to go. I reassured him that undoubtedly he would have other opportunities, and besides he had marched in support of immigrants’ rights the day after the election. The other brother worked, so couldn’t march, and later said he wished he had. Have I told everyone lately how much I love my sons?)
I only did a short stretch of the march. I am recovering from an odd household accident (I was sleepwalking and fell into my tub, torquing my ribs), and walking is not comfortable. So I walked a short stretch of the route (resisting the urge to just duck into the Starbucks) and went into the park. I listened to the speeches until what I thought was dehydration caught up to me and I had to sit down at the medical tent. They gave me water, took my vitals, asked if I wanted to go to the ER ( I refused), and decided to head home. (As it tuned out, I was starting to get sick, and ended up in a different ER later getting IV fluids. This post is less than stellar because I am zonked out on meds.)
On my way I saw friends I haven’t seen in forever (and you guys, I’m sorry I didn’t talk longer, I was starting to feel bad) and went and sat on the light rail platform. On the way home, women (and men) talked about the march, and how marches in other places were going. It is a remarkable movement, and I am excited to see where it goes. Just being with all those people was oddly comforting. (And really, Donald, that first tweet asking why we didn’t vote? We did vote, and it did no good. That’s the problem.)
The choice between buying a ten dollar lunch so you can use the restaurant’s bathroom and fighting your way through twenty thousand people to get to the Port-A-Potties at the other end of the park is a no-brainer. Even if the tacos were mediocre.
The route took us by the Fairmont Hotel, under the bridge between the two buildings. As I walked towards the bridge, I looked up and saw about fifteen men standing and watching the all the people walking underneath. They were in all levels of dress, from blazers to shorts and t-shirts. I found myself wondering what they thought of the March. Did they approve (and if so, why didn’t they join us)? Did they detest it (and us)? Were they simply annoyed that they would have to fight nasty, nasty traffic if they tried to leave the hotel?
I had decided to go at the last moment and didn’t get a sign made. I saw where someone made a sign saying what I was going to: an excerpt from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony sonnet. “And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love/ Cannot be killed or swept aside.” I am thinking of making the sign up anyway. I have a suspicion that this will not be the last time I march against this administration; besides which, there is always Pride.
Some of my favorite signs:
- “My 5-year old has more self-discipline, compassion, and manners than the President of the United States”
- I saw a lot of “A Woman’s Place is In the Resistance” with a picture of Princess Leia. I think Carrie Fisher would approve.
- A picture of a cat with the slogan “Bare your fangs, show your claws, fight back!” (There were a lot of signs about pussies.)
- “Strong women scare weak men,” which pretty much sums up the current political situation.
- And not humorous, but important: a husky, bearded man with a sign that said “This is what a feminist looks like.”
- Held by what looked to be an eleven or twelve year old girl: “Future Nasty Woman.”
- And my favorite from the San Jose March: “We’re the great-granddaughters of the witches your ancestors didn’t burn.” (The Resident Shrink, who went to the Oakland march, texted me my very favorite sign: “So bad, even introverts are here.” As an introvert who normally has a serious allergy to large crowds, I completely agree.)
While I was impressed and happy about the turnout in the big cities, my favorite statistic came from my hometown: twenty-thousand people marched in St. Pete, making it by far the largest protest in the city’s history. (The previous city record had fifteen hundred people.) Wow. And city officials supported the march (the mayor proclaimed yesterday Women’s Rights Day in the city), and the state senator was there and encouraged people to write their Congressional Representatives. This makes me happy and hopeful, if a somewhat sleepy town like St. Pete in a state like Florida can turn out all those people.
Closer to home, from what I understand, the organizers of the San Jose March expected 10,000 people and ended up with 25,000. It really did look like that many people, even though it was cold and windy and threatened to rain, and the park where the rally was held was seriously muddy. (Days and days of rain will do that.)
The San Jose protest appeared to me to be three quarters women, and one-quarter men. A lot of kids, too. People are teaching the importance of standing up for what you believe in to their children at an early age. As someone who tried to do the same thing, I heartily approve.
On the light rail home, a woman said “They say write to your Congressional representative. Ours was at the protest! We’re preaching to the choir.” (While true, it’s still important so they can say the people have their back.) She also had an interesting observation: “People shouldn’t move to Canada. They should move to a red state and organize.”
This is by far the largest protest I have ever taken part in. Given this administration, I expect it is only the first of many over the next four (and hopefully not eight) years..