Opinion » Viewpoint

On the ground at the Washington women’s march — a transformative experience.

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As I boarded the plane and wiggled my bags into the overhead compartment, the girl sitting in my row said, "I had mine laminated so it would be easier to carry on the plane."

Our eyes lit up, and we immediately began to chatter.

She had noticed my rolled-up poster board, which I had no time to Sharpie before my departure from Nashville. I got into D.C. after midnight, so I never really got the chance to write something that would sum up in a few clever words exactly why I decided to miss work, spend all of my savings, risk weeks of pain from my disability, lose (lots and lots of) sleep, and be away from my dog for three days — because I have a problem with a sexual predator — who could and probably will be diagnosed with Psychopathic, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and who thinks it's okay to sexualize his own daughter, insult a female reporter doing her job by dishonoring the fact that she menstruates, and not just gloat about but also carry out the act of grabbing women "by the pussy" — holding one of the highest offices in the world.

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Turns out, my sign wasn't really necessary. More than a million (the numbers keep coming in) women, men, and transpeople of all races, classes, and abilities turned out in Washington, D.C., the day after the psychopath's Inauguration, in pink pussyhats — knit toboggans with cat ears — and in resourcefulness, acumen, and potency.

It was an endless sea of pink and signs: "A Woman's Place Is in the Resistance," "Um, It's 2017 ...," "Sex Offenders Can't Live in Government Housing" (with a drawing of the White House), "Grab 'Em by the Patriarchy," "I Am Deliberate and Afraid of Nothing," "Keep Your Tiny Hands off My Rights," "Don't You Dare Tell Me to Smile," "Patriarchy Is for Dicks," and on and on and on.

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Chants such as "We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter" were heard from all directions. Throughout the day, it was wave after wave of rally cries, every 10 minutes, and every time, a surge of electricity would course through my every cell. We the people, five million and counting, across the globe, on seven continents (yes, Antarctica), gathered in a collective spirit of resistance.

I got to hear Gloria Steinem say, "Thank you for understanding that sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are. Sometimes pressing 'send' is not enough." I heard Angela Davis say, "We dedicate ourselves to collective resistance. Resistance to the billionaire mortgage profiteers and gentrifiers. Resistance to the health-care privateers. Resistance to the attacks on Muslims and on immigrants. Resistance to attacks on disabled people. Resistance to state violence perpetrated by the police and through the prison industrial complex."

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I'm a little salty (well, a lot), and I felt a significant pull toward Ashley Judd, who recited a poem by Middle Tennessean Nina Donovan: "I am a naaaaasty woman. ... I am not as nasty as racism, fraud, conflict of interest, homophobia, sexual assault, transphobia, white supremacy, misogyny, ignorance, white privilege ... your daughter being your favorite sex symbol. ... Yeah, I'm a nasty woman — a loud, vulgar, proud woman. ... We are here to be respected. We are here to be nasty."

Did I march? Sort of. There really wasn't room to "march." The parade route was not big enough to hold the multitude of people who showed up. Rumors were that there were people who could

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n't even exit the Metro. There was nowhere for them to go if they surfaced.

It was a solar flare of people that will have ripple effects for years. And I put one foot in front of the other at a snail's pace and joined 5 million of my fellow humans in saying this is unacceptable and we are going to change things.

This is power. This is a movement. This is just the beginning. Perhaps my favorite sign was, "This Is Not Normal." And this is my pledge. I will wake up every day remembering that this is not normal, no matter if a third of the population is willing to believe "alternative facts." And I am going to be vigilant, and I am going to continue to donate my energy to a collective people of all genders, races, and action to do as Angela Davis said: "The next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance."

I am woke AF. I am lit AF. And I am nasty AF.

Lesley Young is a copy editor and food columnist for the Flyer and a Memphis-based freelance writer.


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