Dear Strong Sister. We hear you. You made a choice not to join in the Women’s March on January 21, 2017, not because you had prior commitments or personal concerns. You chose not to march because you do not feel you have ever experienced a moment when your gender, ethnicity, religion, family name, cultural practices, hair color, skin color, lifestyle choices took precedent over the content of your character and the value of your input. We hear you. Your life experience is inspirational, and demonstrates there has indeed been change. We hear you, Strong Sister. But do you hear us?
A great many of us, around the world, joined in unity to speak in one voice declaring our vigilance to maintain and expand our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We joined with our sisters, and brothers, of all ethnic groups, cultures, religious practices, sexual orientations and physical and mental abilities to share our strength of conviction and intent to not become complacent while a dangerous rhetoric spreads across the globe. On seven continents, we marched to demand our rightful place in our governance now and in the future. This was not a selfish act, nor a singular issue. We did not join together because we are weak, or victims. Like you, dear sister, we are Strong. We have a voice. We have control over our bodies. We can defend ourselves and our families. We also are reaping the benefits of those who came before us. This was not why we marched.
Are you listening?
We are amazed to hear you’ve never experienced a life of challenge or disharmony. We rejoice in your wonderful story of equality and achievement in all aspects of life. It gives hope that someday, our daughters, and sons, will come of age in a world where the life you have led is the norm.
We are inspired to hear you’ve never once felt as though your opinion was dismissed because of your gender. How your dream of pursuing a career or lifestyle were never ridiculed or scoffed at because of your skin color, gender, hair color, eye color or family name. Your claim to have never felt marginalized in the workforce or the classroom is uplifting. Knowing that you have never been turned away from employment because of your gender and have gained equal pay for equal experience and work demonstrates the activists of the past did not fight in vain.
We hear you, Strong Sister. Are you listening?
We find it astounding you have never been objectified or made to feel as though your physical appearance was a valid point of discussion or study. Perhaps you’ve never been likened to an animal or had judgments made about your worth, intelligence or attractiveness because of your skin color, hair color, body shape, weight, age, physical ability or family name. Perhaps, you’ve never felt the need to complete multiple self diagnoses to determine if the feelings of pain and discomfort were real or imaginary.
Are you listening, Strong Sister?
We are relieved to learn you are not a victim. Does it surprise you to know we are not victims, either. We are SURVIVORS. Does that make you smirk? Are you listening? Our lives have not been charmed. As children our bodies were beaten and used as playthings by uncaring adults whom the laws defended. As adults, we have been groped, overpowered, beaten and raped only to see our attackers escape the suffering of punishment. Some for shocking reasons, or an abundance of money and laws enacted to protect the rights of the powerful. Government and society mock us and insinuate that we invited the attention by simply being. Dear Strong Sister, when you turn your back on us, still we stand and fight. We are SURVIVORS.
Are you still listening, Strong Sister?
This past Saturday, we marched with the intent that ALL of us will lead the life you enjoy. Where ALL children can pursue their dreams to be a business owner, doctor, judge, scientist, president and astronaut without being deflected or ridiculed based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or family name.
We are doctors, engineers, scientists, teachers, lawyers, and enforcers of the law. We are store clerks, nurses, librarians, secretaries, janitors, and cooks. We are athletes, soldiers, artists, musicians and authors. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers and aunts. We are the past, the present and the future. We did not march so that we CAN work. The American story is built on the labor of our mothers. Instead, we find ourselves fighting for the respect our educations and careers should command instead of by our skin color, hairstyle, gender, cultural practices and religions. We march with the intent that ALL of us will be able to pursue an education and earn employment based on our education and willingness to learn and work hard, rather than our family history, gender, age, religious practices or romantic choices.
Are you listening?
We march with the intent that ALL of us, regardless of gender, physical or mental capabilities will be able to travel secure in the knowledge that we can reach our destination safely, and if the worst happens, the courts and society will not prejudge us based on assumptions about our lifestyle, gender, physical qualities or even our economic status.
We march with the intent that ALL of us will have access to quality health care regardless of our condition, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation or economic status.
Dear Strong Sister, we do not begrudge you the life you lead. We celebrate the possibilities that your story demonstrates. We march with the hope, that someday we will ALL experience the life you claim already exists. Until then, we will continue to march. We will continue to raise our voices. We will continue to engage our government. We will not become complacent.
Dear Strong Sister, we respect that you don’t share our vision. We respect that you feel confident and are able to share your words with us. We heard you. Now we ask you to hear us as we respectfully ask that if you don’t feel the need to join us, step aside and let us move toward the reality you claim, without insulting our drive to achieve our dreams of equality and justice.
This past Saturday, we marched not just for our rights in the present and in the future. We also marched for our mothers and grandmothers who came before us, to demonstrate our promise that their sacrifices would not be in vain. And yes, Strong Sister, we marched for the continuance of your lifestyle.
Did you hear us?