One could say that America was born from rage and grows from rage. I learned that firsthand at the Women’s March four years ago, when my country was mired in a sea of outrage that reached across the globe. On January 21, 2017, nearly 100,000 people in my hometown of Portland, Oregon participated in one of the largest protests the city had ever seen on a single day. Despite the fury we held, no violence occurred. No arrests were made. And no glass was shattered, except for the fractured glass ceiling pieces lodged in place when the woman who won the majority of votes for the Presidency was legally denied the office.
Author at Portland march
While anger and resentful disgust fueled the Women’s March, joy and inspiration were the prevailing emotions during the actual protest. Any disappointment I had about being born too late for the 1960s cultural revolution evaporated in a sea of powerful women that Saturday afternoon. I went with several friends and we all felt the coherence: chants rising and falling in unison like birds knowing when to shift course; women from every corner of our community forming a sisterhood. In retrospect, that day may have seeded the renewed activism which helped save democracy in America. Four years ago a door blasted open, and we walked through it.
The rage that prompted the protest stemmed from a single election loss, but in truth, it had been bubbling up for generations. We finally got to the point of “Enough.” And we knew the 45th president would lead us down a destructive path. We knew. We knew the following four years would be a slap in the face to each one of us: a dearth of appointments to women (let alone BIPOC and those who advocate for women’s rights); a giant f*ck you to mothers everywhere as children were ripped from their families at the border; and a president who made no attempt to hide his misogyny, which included many rape accusations. Though we couldn’t prophesy just what it would look like, we knew the backlash against women would happen.
The 2016 election was just another example of the double standard women have tolerated for far too long. And it was a final straw for the current generation of women who realized the system is stacked against them: only this time, the alarm bells reverberated with every other sector of society that deals with ongoing systemic discrimination. The Muslim Ban, the refugees blocked at the border, the Black Lives Matter protests—all served as cacophonous wake-up calls. More and more people came to understand that what befalls some of us affects all of us. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to recognize that the path for success offered to women and people of color was, in many ways, an illusion of progress.