The Future is Female
Casting Our Vote
Three months ago I struggled to get my, then seven-week-old, daughter out of her car seat. She was so new and tiny (and I was so sleep deprived and clumsy) that I worried about either breaking her, or having a nervous breakdown in the parking lot of the small church we had just driven to. It was my designated polling place and even though I was ragged and likely dealing with some residual postpartum depression, I just knew I was making history by helping to elect our very first female president. The night before, my partner and I talked about how amazing it would be that from day one, the only leaders she would know were an amazing black man (that we sometimes call Uncle Barry) followed by a strong resilient woman. With that conversation in mind, I began the arduous task of strapping her baby sling to me (much like a paratrooper) and cajoling my fussy, squirmy infant into the chest pack. I marched in there and felt so proud casting my ballot with my daughter’s tiny little head resting firmly over my heart.
Support the Resistance
I didn’t know that, a little over three months later, I would once again be strapping (my less tiny and less new) daughter back into the same damn sling (they don’t really ever seem to get easier) for another historical moment. My partner and I decided that as a family we wanted to be represented in the Women’s March in Atlanta. Donald Trump’s election was such a blow to all the things we believe in and all the values we are trying to instill in our daughter, we knew we needed to show our support for the resistance.
I’m not going to lie-- I woke up last Saturday morning full of excuses.
There was violence during Trump’s inauguration parade the day before.
"What kind of nutcase takes a baby to a political protest?," I thought to myself, followed by, “John Lewis is going to march, it’s going to be totally safe…” and then, “Wait, John Lewis willingly got his head bashed in for his beliefs, clearly this man is a radical and I should not subject my child to the threat of danger…”
Moments after my inner turmoil subsided, it became evident what I had to do; teach my child, through example, that sometimes, even if it’s hard or inconvenient or dangerous, you have to do what you feel is morally right. So we put on our homemade matching “The Future is Female” t-shirts and made our way to the train station for the march.
The public transit in Atlanta is not always the safest or most reliable transport but it would have to do. As we waited on the platform to board our train downtown, we happened upon a young mom with her three year old son and her nine month old daughter in one of those dual strollers that make me nervous because they seem to prohibit the driver so much. We struck up a conversation and she admitted that she too had reservations about bringing her kids along. After waffling the entire morning, and then cleaning up the pee that her three year old son managed to distribute all over the living room carpet, she’d had an epiphany, “Get in the car, kids! We’re going to make history today!” And so she joined our ragtag feminist contingent.
Everyone else we encountered on the train was super nice. Most of the passengers had made signs. For some, this was their first protest; for others, this was an unfortunate reminder that the civil liberties they had been granted in the past were not finite or guaranteed. Everyone was gentle with one another (particularly when the elevator was broken and our new friend with the dual stroller was attempting to walk it up the escalator). The mood was positive. Hopeful. People were talking to each other. ON THE TRAIN! It made me laugh to think about how our aggressive bully of a president was trying to separate us and yet, here we all were, strangers on public transport, conversing! As someone who, just a year ago, was riding this very train to and from work everyday, it astounded me. The simple act of helping each other figure out the right stop most likely wouldn’t have happened a month before.
When we reached our destination at the Civic Center, my adrenaline kicked in. I had visions of the crowd crushing us or tear gas blinding us. But, luckily, my worries were unfounded. This was the most positive and peaceful protest I’d ever encountered. I've read articles since that have inferred that because no one was arrested, and no property damage was done, that this wasn't a legitimate protest-- but as one of the 60,000 in my city alone, I can honestly say it did not feel that way at all. Local law enforcement was just as bristled as the citizens by comments from our new Commander-in-Chief regarding our city and one of its most celebrated heroes. There was a bit of a backlog and rush of anticipation as the masses waited for everything to begin but then, slowly and surely, the swell of people began to march.
And So We March
At different points of the two-mile march we chanted different things; funny things like “hands too small to build a wall” and more serious things like “Black Lives Matter." Though there lacked a central message or theme, they were all important and equal. My favorite chant was instigated by a little boy marching with his mom in front of us. He couldn’t have been more than four, and started yelling “My Body My Choice!” with such enthusiasm that no one had the heart to explain the deeper nuances of what he was shouting. And really it didn't matter, he wasn’t wrong, all of our bodies should be our own to do with what we choose.
We started marching at the Center for Civil and Human Rights and then the two mile route took us through many different parts of the city. We marched in front of the CNN center (for all their “fake news” they sure seem to have a large thriving building with lots of dedicated employees), past boujee highrises full of overpriced condos, and down the sometimes rough and unpolished Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard. The gold dome of our city's capitol building gleamed in the the sun (that seemed to have come out just for this march) as a beautiful beacon, our symbolic destination. We didn't encounter any counter protesters. Where were the millions of people in their ‘Make America Great Again’ hats? At one point I looked behind me and realized that walking behind us was a group of about five other parents, all with their babies in slings similar to the one I was carrying my very asleep daughter in. Here we were, a motley crew of moms and dads (who probably had millions of other things to do on a Saturday afternoon) marching defiantly, together.
Trump and his supporters can have their hateful rhetoric and their bigoted ideals (for now), but the joke’s on them. It won't be long before all those tiny humans I saw at the march, the children who are currently being raised to fiercely reject racism and misogyny, will be a very cohesive group of "woke" adult humans. While my daughter is far too young to understand the little ‘Dismantle the Patriarchy’ sign we made for her her to carry, I firmly believe that teaching her to stand up for herself (before we teach her to stand) is going to carry her so far in life. And hopefully she never has to strap her babies to her chest and march for the same values.
About the Author
Amanda Paulus is a writer, designer and stay-at-home mom (but not like a regular mom, a cool mom). She lives in Atlanta with her five month old daughter and her 408 month old partner.