“Testimony” is a peculiar word to use about my experience at the Women’s March. The word derives from the ancient Roman tradition of men ceremonially grabbing each other’s testicles when taking an oath. One would think that, in 2017, the grabbing of genitals would be over, yet long before President Trump told the world the pleasure he took in sexually assaulting women, I knew that going to college would likely result in someone assaulting me. I knew that one in four college girls are sexually assaulted. I knew that native women had a 50% chance of being sexually assaulted. I knew that more than two thirds of hate crime homicide victims are transgender women, especially black transgender women, and that they are 1.8% more likely to suffer sexual abuse. I knew that to the white man’s dollar, Asian women make 85 cents, white women make 77 cents, black women make 63 cents, and Latina women make 54 cents. Black men make less than the white woman, and hispanic men make the same as black women. Conversion camps take LGBTQ+ youth and destroy them to their very core until they are so traumatized, they have no choice but to say they are straight. Muslims are feared just for wearing cloth on their heads or praying on a rug instead of in a pew. Hard working people are kept out of this country every day because they are seen as terrorists or rapists or drug dealers. Toxic masculinity and dehumanized femininity plagues our society with gender roles.
President Trump and Vice President Pence did not create these problems. They did not cause people to become racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or to have any other kind of prejudice. Those prejudices were already there. They elected our current president. Even if those who voted for him would actively say they did not hold these prejudices, President Trump’s hate for the aforementioned minorities was not a deal breaker for his voters. I didn’t see the Women’s March as something that came about because of the events of 2016 and early 2017, but as the breaking point of endless suffering.
Prejudice has always been a part of society, in one form or another. I am often asked, “How can an individual change things?” My answer is that I don’t think an individual can change things alone. I think the Women’s March is an example of the route to effecting change—not alone, but together, with our experiences, oppression, and privileges unifying us into a group stronger than those in power. “United we are strong” is the truest mantra. It is hierarchy within classes, races, genders, and other identities that allow those who are power to be in power. Those hierarchies are there to divide us. By uniting in our differences we can change things. That unity is what the Women’s March means to me.