I am so very excited to introduce you to a guest blogger for today's post. My husband Mark and I worked with college students in a former church for many years. One of the amazing gifts from that time is seeing college students turn into young adults and now almost peers at times. I LOVE seeing them marry, work in various places, and have children. So many of them feel like "my own." Today I want to introduce you to Ashley Huffman Sanders. She has a giant heart, is drop dead hilarious, and I have so enjoyed watching her journey through life.
When I participated in the first Women's March, there were people in my life who questioned that and wondered why I did it. I had my own reasons and I may put my own words to that one day. Today, I invite you to listen to my dear friend Ashley. Her words are much more entertaining than mine tend to be. Someday, I am going to be at her book launch! Enjoy Ashley's fair yet passionate words: (And please hang in there until the end. She uses more words than I do to make her point - she is kind of like a preacher who gets warmed up and saves the emotional appeal for the very end!)
Some friends of mine were talking about tomorrow's "Women's March" today at work. They didn't really get the fuss or understand it and legitimately didn't really get what it was all about. And I completely understand where they're coming from.
To be honest, I don't know if I can say I 'get' some of it either. We didn't see eye to eye on it, and that is perfectly fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I completely respect that and their stance and appreciate them as friends and colleagues.
But it DID get me to thinking...
Do I truly understand, as a citizen, as a woman, as a member of society what all this is about? Do *I* even get any of this? Is it really worth it? All the effort? What is their/our goal? As women, as men, as outspoken and concerned citizens?
On that note, I went to the break room to heat up my lunch. Which I then promptly forgot about, only to come back later to retrieve it from the microwave.
There was a fellow staff member in the kitchen with me -- an older gentleman -- who said he'd wondered whose food it was.
I retrieved my food and exclaimed "Oh good, it's still hot." as I made my way to the door.
My co-worker responded with:
"Is that how you like it? Hot?"
(...my brain is quickly trying to make sense of the words that just came out of this man's mouth...)
"Hot, like you?"
I completely ignored the statement and left the kitchen, my brain still wrapping around the exchange, and honest to God not being able to form words to respond.
Not 5 minutes ago, we were contemplating an activity and wondering about its validity and purpose.
Not 5 minutes ago, across the country, people across the whole political spectrum may be wondering the same thing. Wondering what exactly these women -- and men, and children -- are marching for.
Now, yes, I get it. Some of the attire is strange or funny, or immature to some, and that doesn't help others who don't really understand the whole point to begin with, have a positive view or understanding. (Which, I understand is to drive a point home. But, yes, I hear you.)
My thoughts on the whole subject, as I made my way back to my office from the kitchen, were all over the place.
What does this mean to me? As a white, mid to upper-class citizen of one of the best countries in the world?
I can promise you right now that I have it way better than the vast majority. The anguish and pain that I cannot even begin to comprehend are unlike anything that I will ever have to endure. And I am blessed and lucky to have been born by chance into the privileged country and life station that I have been.
Many have joked or spoken against the marches over the last few months. How silly it is or what a waste of time it seems.
What could these women possibly have to complain about? Do they not realize just how good they have it?? How much better they have it than so many other women throughout the world??
I get it, I do. It's a lot to take in and make sense of, especially if you are on the traditionally opposite end of the political spectrum as the majority of those who are speaking out.
And made even harder to understand if you, like me, are of a fairly privileged upbringing in comparison to many.
But one thing that I am quick to think of, one thing that I cannot for the life of me push out of my mind, is...
How eerily similar are these words as those said about the women who marched almost 100 years ago?
How silly they must've seemed to so many! How ridiculous did so many men, co-workers (if they were in a position that allowed them to work), other female friends, husbands, brothers, mothers, etc think that they were?
But you know what?
Something that seemed so ridiculous and silly by so many back then is the VERY reason that we are able to vote and have a voice today. The VERY reason that we even have the comfort and ability to even care or not care.
I have no problem with anyone who disagrees. I really don't. That's what's so great about this country we live in. We are all (now, anyway) allowed to have that opinion and still be a good person.
Just think about it though. Allow yourself to really think about it.
No matter what end of the spectrum you're on. Think about why you do or don't agree. Do or don't support it.
And own it.
I think that if we each looked deep enough, rid our minds of preconceived notions, and really thought about it, it would be pretty easy to realize something that we recognize we would want to change. Something we hope will be made better - some of the things that these very people are marching for.
Back to the scene from the office kitchen...
Now, I know this man is a good man. He's a good person. I'm fairly certain he meant no harm by his comment. Sadly, this is because this is not out of the ordinary for him. He says things like this fairly frequently. Again, not necessarily meaning anything by it, but saying them none the less.
I don't typically say much about it in terms of reporting or attempting to stop the behavior.
One, I don't like to rock the boat unless absolutely necessary. Perhaps because I'm Southern. Perhaps because I'm a woman.
Two, perhaps because I worry that, regardless of the rocking this would cause, there's the fear that it may not be taken seriously and not a whole lot would be done about it. The thoughts of "Well, I know he didn't mean anything by it." "Well, I don't want to make him feel bad/uncomfortable." "I don't want to get him in trouble." Etc etc etc.
And that is so sad.
But let me tell you something.
How many women do you know who have had similar experiences? Have had those same trains of thought in response?
How many women do you know that have had inappropriate things done or said to them at their workplace? Their local grocery store?
And how many women do you know shy away from saying something for fear of 'rocking the boat', for hurting someone's feelings who may not have 'meant' anything by it, who don't want to get someone in trouble?
How many people have been walking down the street and approached with extremely inappropriate advances or words?
Thank God, I have never been physically harassed.
But I can tell you that as young as 16, I was approached by a man in the grocery store.
Standing in the cereal aisle. A junior in high school.
When a 50-year-old man walked by, whispering in my ear so closely that I could feel his breath "I like it when girls don't wear underwear. Do you have on underwear?"
Or standing in line for lunch in ELEMENTARY school (7 years old) while a little boy -- watching his own parents and peers -- sung "I like it, I love it, I want some more of it" while licking his lips, staring disgustingly at me, and theatrically HUMPING at me, not 6 inches away.
How many of you have been told "You can catch more flies with honey, ...honey."?
>>Even my own mother, as a brand new attorney -- one of the first female assistant DA's in her area of the state at the time -- was given that same exact advice.<<
Umm, I'm sorry.....
BUT , N O .
How many men are told this? That's right. Probably not too many. Because they typically don't need to try to "catch" their respect or allies. With their sweet ol' honey.
Now, as a Southern woman, I know just how to catch those flies. And, believe me, I know just how to use that honey with the best of them.
I've had to.
Because, well, that's just how it is... Dahlin'.
But here's the thing. It shouldn't have to be.
It DOESN'T have to be.
Just like those women (and men) who marched 100 years ago for the silly notion that women should have a voice.
I bet you they were fed those same lines. Looked at just as dismissively.
Just like women in Africa or Asia or so many other countries are being told right now -- by mammas who are just trying to raise their babies the best that they know how -- about whatever horrific struggles they are going through are. "I know it's horrible, honey. I know it's not fair, but this is how it is."
But, y'all, it doesn't have to be.
Not for them. And not for us.
We shouldn't -- as a country -- be ok with plateauing because we seem to have it so much better as so many others.
Then who in the world is their light?? Their hope?? Who do they have to look at as an example of rights? Of equality? Of freedom?
Should those women not have marched because they had it 'ok'?
Should Americans of color just been ok with "separate but equal"? And just been thankful that it's not as bad as it was?
Should we, as women and as a culture, be ok with something just because it doesn't 'suck' quite as bad as it did 100 years ago? Because we have so much to be thankful for?
I won't be marching tomorrow. I will be feeding 200 people who aren't able to cook or go to the store for themselves. Because they're worth it and because they deserve love.
But I can honestly say that I've thought about all of it.
I've thought about what it means.
To not only myself, but to so many others. Even what it means for those who don't agree and don't understand.
And I know I need to speak up.
I need to speak up so that the little girl in this picture can grow up in a world where she doesn't have to use a damn drop of honey to get anywhere with anybody.
If she wants to drop honey from here to Timbuktu and absolutely kill with her Southern kindness, then you do you, baby. But, my God, it will be her choice.
So that the little girl in this picture isn't approached by a grown ass man -- raised by this 'equal' culture we are living in -- and asked if she is wearing any freaking underwear.
And that on the off chance she IS approached, that she knows to -- right there on the spot -- speak out loudly and viciously against the disgusting poor excuse of a man who's just accosted a minor, innocently picking between Sugar Smacks and Fruit Loops.
Instead of shrinking back because she doesn't know how to respond and doesn't want to say the wrong thing or get someone in trouble.
Or, God forbid, rock the stupid boat.
I realized that, no matter how badly I want to think that this person today didn't 'mean' anything by his words, that's not MY problem. That's HIS problem.
No matter how much the world around me may tell me it is.
"Oh, he didn't mean anything by it." , "He's just trying to be nice." , "That's just so-and-so."
Just like the people who are marching for various reasons.
Just like the people who are speaking out for whatever cause they feel led to.
We may not agree with all of them. We may not agree with methods, or think it's silly.
But I will be DAMNED if I sit back and watch the baby girl in this picture be told ONE time, any of the above crap so many of us were fed.
So, yes. I will speak out. Yes, I will stand up for what I know to be good and right and true.
Because I love my sisters. I love this country.
And, God bless America, I love this little girl.