On Saturday, January 21st, I marched down Market Street in San Francisco with about 150,000 other people in the women’s march, an event that took place in 673 other cities around the world. It was pouring rain, but the energy of the event was so emotional and inspiring, that I couldn’t help but feel a sense of hope and positivity, that even though we may have some dark days ahead of us, there are still so many people in the world who believe in equality and love.
I couldn’t help but think about my mother while I was marching. She was of the baby boomer generation and passed away when I was 17. She would have been 70 on the day of the march. I would never have referred to my mother as an activist in the traditional sense, but one thing she taught me from a very young age was that it was okay to call yourself a feminist.
I remember distinctly coming home one day after someone at my school had been talking negatively about women, saying that a woman could never be president because women were too emotional. Something about this didn’t seem right to me, and I asked her about it. She explained to me how women are viewed as lesser by many men and even some women. She introduced the idea to me that there were women who disagreed with that, that these women thought women and men should be treated as equals, and that these women were called, “feminists,” and, perhaps most importantly, that she was one of them.
My mother wasn’t perfect by any means. She was incredibly insecure about her looks and what society thought about her place as a mother and wife and was embarrassed by some of the sacrifices she had made in her own life at the expense of pleasing a man, but she tried to correct a lot of her shortcomings by raising me to be a strong, confident woman. She made me believe that with hard work and grit, I could do whatever I wanted to do, that I didn’t have to choose between being beautiful and stylish and smart and ambitious, that I could be independent and make my own way.
I thought about my mother during the march because I’m not sure whether she would have marched or not. I like to think that she would have, that being around to see me grow into the independent woman that I am today might have made her less self-conscious, less afraid to rock the boat, more independent herself.
One thing I do know is that we have so much to be hopeful for with the next generation. I was inspired by all the young girls at the women’s march last Saturday. I was inspired that there are girls being exposed to strong, opinionated, independent women at such a young age. I was inspired that they are learning that they are worthy of opportunities and equality and that they are learning about female fellowship and love. Finally, I was inspired that there is a whole new generation of young women coming up in the world not afraid to fight or raise their voice or demand what they deserve, and I know that’s something both myself and my mom can be immensely proud of.
Image Courtesy of KQED.com