What I brought home to Maine from the Women's March on Washington
WHEN MY FRIEND Sarah texted me shortly after the election, asking if I’d join her on a bus that was heading from Mount Desert Island, Maine to the Women’s March in Washington, DC, I didn’t want to go. I’m in the middle of building a house, money’s tight, and I’ve never been able to sleep in a small, cramped space. I ignored her text for a few hours.
Then, it hit me. I’m a feminist. I disagree with the racism, misogyny, and bigotry that was displayed throughout the election. And ever since I awoke to the struggles of others while in college, I’ve tried to be active in resistance. I’ve attended small protests for marriage equality, reproductive justice, and climate change awareness — but when have I ever taken my beliefs to our nation’s capital, alongside hundreds of thousands of other people? This was an experience that I couldn’t let go just because I didn’t want to spend two nights sleeping in the fetal position on a 34-hour round trip bus ride.
So I paid the 140 bucks and reserved a seat, hoping to be part of something that future generations might read about in history books.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced in D.C.
I grew up in Waldo County, Maine in the same town that my mother grew up in. My grandmother grew up nearby as well. I’m proud of my roots, but I’d be lying if I claimed they were very diverse. The narratives I’ve been exposed to are, for the most part, those of poor white people. What was it like to grow up in small town Maine in the ‘60s and ‘70s without access to reproductive healthcare, where your only sense of community comes from a church that tells women their bodies aren’t their own? Ask my mother. What was it like to grow up in Maine’s most impoverished area where the only dependable job is raking blueberries, constructing wreaths, or digging for worms? Ask my boyfriend. What is it like to watch elementary schools and small businesses close down in your community? To watch historical buildings rot into the ground? To no longer be able to afford health insurance because Medicare wasn’t expanded in your state? Ask my neighbors. What is it like to drive an hour for an OBGYN checkup, only to pass by protesters holding grotesque signs, shouting at you? Ask me. Ask my sister. Ask any one of my girlfriends. [read more]