10 years ago I attended the March for Women’s Lives. I was not a ‘professional feminist’ ; I was not an Activist ; I was not a student. At that point I did not to clinic defense, I did not do any feminist organizing in ‘the real world’ nor had I sought out social justice based spiritual spaces. I may have been moderating feminist community on LiveJournal (a kind of discussion board) but that would’ve been the most I was ‘doing for feminism’ at that point. I think this distinction is key because so much feminist organizing right now is predicated on a job or education path. We don’t think of ways to encourage those of us who care about the issues of reproductive justice (but lets say.. work in retail) to become involved/be heard.
It’s important to know that my entry into activism was through ‘on the street work’. My first experience was helping an aunt leaflet for her union, later I took part (and found solace) in the antiwar marches. I’m not sure where I heard about the March for Women’s Lives (though the old post I recovered and placed here makes some mention of it) but it must have been online. What I do remember I remember traveling downtown meeting several friends for the first time in person, although I’d considered friends for years. It was exciting to hear voices, see people’s faces and expressions that matched the fierceness they expressed in eloquent posts of the years. These weren’t ‘up and coming bloggers’ – but all sorts of folks who just happened to know each other through communities on this one blogging platform.
It was this experience with a march that mobilized me. After I left I felt such a buzz in my stomach and in my heart. I remember asking my friend Dorothy “what do I do now with all this energy?” She then brought me along to her activism at the time- local organization that provided clinic defense and got me working on the weekends helping patients get in past protesters. After couple years doing clinic defense I was introduced to the organization who I work with to organize a DIY feminist conference. As LiveJournal waned I found other spaces for my writing/thoughts (ie. this blog and my sporadic podcast).
So while it was LiveJournal that introduced me to a lot of concepts ideas and people (so many wonderful friends!) it was the March for Women’s Lives that introduced me to the power of presence as a tool for promoting social justice. Internet organizing is awesome and definitely has its place in the toolkit, but physically showing up when we can (when the limits of money and time and ability don’t over-weigh the benefits of meeting somebody face-to-face) linking arms walking down city streets together for a cause is a thing of gorgeousness.
I spent part of my morning today looking at your pictures were taken 10 years ago. The quality of the pictures is comedic (apparently my phone now has better memory and skills than our digital camera did then). A lot of the faces in those pictures are people I do not talk to anymore. Friendships fade, and even break apart at times, so some of those memories are bittersweet. While complicated by the passage of time and by the growth that happens between each 25 and 35 these pictures make me smile. I can see the distance that I have come, and the faults in those feminist groups that are still being repeated today. By no means was the march perfect but I know that for me that day standing with so many other people who cared about the cause I finally understood that I was not alone.