I went to the Women’s March on Washington. Just like a lot of guys. Why I went to the march was because there isn’t gender equality in this country. Just like racial equality didn’t happen with the 15th amendment (and still hasn’t), the 19th didn’t bring gender equality.

Coming from a rather conservative social group, there was some shade I saw before, after, and during the March from people I know on Twitter and Facebook. Let’s talk about what I actually saw there.

Was the march anti-Donald Trump?

Simple answer - yes. All other issues for or against Donald Trump aside, I don’t think that the president has demonstrated any measure of respect for women. And there were a lot of people at the March that felt even more strongly about it than I do. For me, what really took it from a man who wears irreverence comfortably to a place of disrespect was not the infamous Access Hollywood “grab them by the pussy” video, but his response to it. Had the man just said, “Hey, that was years ago, I’ve changed my ways, I’m sorry about that.” and nothing more- personally, I would have been satisfied. But he didn’t. Instead when challenged by Anderson Cooper at a presidential debate, he dismissed it as “locker room talk” and gave a hand wave-y apology.

When American colleges are in a season of facing up to realities of sexual assault, not the response that I want from the leader of the free world.

Was the march anti-man?

Growing up, I heard a lot of Rush Limbaugh. A term he made famous is “feminazi”. He, of course, uses the word as a derogative against a big segment of people that just want gender equality.

However.

There are people that I would not defend if that term was used against them. I’ve met people who are not feminist, but man haters who want to advance the female gender to a place of privilege. I’ve met one or two. They’re the ones who give all the ladies who just want equality a real bad name. If they were at the March, I didn’t seem them and I didn’t hear them.

Heck, the word “patriarchy” didn’t really even come up that much, to be honest.

The March had a whole bunch of stuff that didn’t have anything to do with women, right?

This bit gets tricky for me. In the weeks leading up to the March, I heard the term “intersectional feminism” for the first time. The term has been around for awhile, but, and I’m trying to be honest here, don’t stay up to date on these sort of things. The argument here is that there are many, many issues that are not obvious parts of gender equality, but are, or issues of gender equality that overlap with other issues.

Some of it makes sense to me. And other parts of it really do feel like various activist groups that have cobbled themselves together to snowball into a more vocal and powerful group. I’m trying to get on board with it. But I’m not really sure if it’s a tactic of activism that is branded for easy digestion or if there is actual overlap.

At the bottom of this post, I’ve included the Unifying Principals as published by the organizers of the march.

As an example, I’ll mention environmentalism. I’m 100% on board with environmentalism. Let’s get solar panels on every surface and get rid of fossil fuels. Is it a issue that effects gender equality? No. Not in any way that I can understand at all.

But, hey, these ladies put together one of the largest marches in US history, they can pile on whatever issues they want. They got it done.

Pro-Life/anti-abortion people weren’t welcome there, were they?

Yeah, this one I have to call a bit of a foul on. Pro-life people were not excluded, but here’s the story. The March organizers included a pro-life women’s group as a partner organization to the March. Some people noticed this, and said, “Wait, if reproductive rights is a primary issue for us, why has this group who opposes it been included as a partner?” and those groups were rightfully removed as partners. Had the organizers included an anti-LGBT group as a partner, they’d have been removed too. That didn’t happen because no such group was listed as a partner in the first place, which is what should have happened with the removed pro-life group.

It looked bad and it alienated pro-life supporters.

So this whole thing really was about abortion, right?

No, but let’s talk for a minute. I’d like to share my story.

Every January 27th is the March for Life. It is the big pro-life rally whose goal is to overturn the Roe v Wade ruling. I’ve been to it two or three times as a pro-life supporter. I think I’d say that my last time there was 15 or 20 years ago.

My mom and I, as protestants, would piggy back on a tour bus filled with Catholics who would chant the Rosary for hours, interrupting my Tupac on my Minidisc player. We’d get out in the cold, walk around DC with thousands of other people, and then get ourselves bussed back to Ohio.

During that time, I’d count myself as a rather solid pro-lifer. And, now? If we’re going by technical definitions, I’m against the criminalization of abortions, so that makes me pro-choice. But outside of the realm of law, I’m completely for the end of abortions. Stay with me here.

Growing up in a pro-life home, I lived in one of the many echo chambers that all Americans with a strong opinion allow themselves to stay in side. I could not understand why pro-choice people were okay with killing babies. And now, I’m certain that there was a pro-choice teenager who just couldn’t figure out why these pro-life people don’t care about the rights of women. They are two completely different conversations, two different view points, and because of that any sort of common ground can’t be found at all. They’re approached as different issues. The only commonality is the medical procedure called “abortion”.

There is a joke that went around then, and still does now, that liberals don’t care about the kid before they’re born and conservatives don’t care about the kid after their born. My mom was the director of a pro-life pregnancy distress center. I remember that the organization didn’t overtly discourage abortions, but did absolutely everything in their power to support a woman who had a surprise pregnancy and was in a difficult spot. My mom and her people did far more for unborn babies (and born babies) than most of the people that I know that claim to be pro-life. And my hypothetical pro-choice counterpart probably has a mom that did the same. Between that joke and the serious work of my mother, that set me up for a very specific moment in time, something that crystalized it all for me.

I hope you’ve never heard of Randall Terry. He’s one of the idealogical grandchildren of the Moral Majority that pollutes Evangelical Christianity with politics and tries to do the inverse as well. I listened to this guy on the radio growing up every day. And so did my family. I remember one day hearing him slur the pro-choice movement with a brief part of a talk given by a lady we used to call Hillary Rodham Clinton (I don’t know what happened to the Rodham). I very much wish that I could find the actual source of the quote to link to, but I can’t, so I’ll paraphrase. Terry had said that she was being called a traitor by pro-choice people for acknowledging that the choice to have an abortion would likely be the hardest choice any woman would ever have to make and expressed the pain that would come with making that choice and afterwards. Terry touted this as a victory as the High Priestess of Feminism (my words, probably not his) broke ranks with the pro-choice people and spoke truth.

Terry missed the point. Maybe others did to, but I got it.

At the time, and maybe now, pro-life people seemed to think that this country is filled with women who are using abortion as a first choice option for birth control, and usually waited until real late in the third trimester. The pro-life media was really selling the horror that you see on those signs that that sliver of pro-lifers like to put up showing the aftermath of a late term abortion on big signs, usually across the street from a Planned Parenthood.

I’m not sure if I actually knew until Randall Terry quoted Hillary Clinton to me that that wasn’t true. Women weren’t lining up to happily get their abortions and go on with their lives. At the same time I realized that the Catholics who were serving as the bulwark of the pro-life movement were also anti-contraceptive. Some non-Catholic pro-lifers are anti-hormonal contraceptives as those act after the moment of conception, where they believe that God starts life. How they might reconcile God’s hand in that roughly a third of all fertilizations result in miscarriage is beyond me.

And the hate against Planned Parenthood is also quizzical to me. It must be as that the organization provides more reproductive health services in the country than any other organization and therefore the most abortions. Also, therefore, they prevent more unplanned pregnancies than any other organization, and that must get lost in the shuffle.

Let me sum this up for you. I started pro-life and I’m still against abortions, but I’m not against removing the supply, instead the demand. The pro-life movement increases the demand for abortions every time it elects a congress person who votes against subsidies for birth control. It increases the demand every time they petition their local school board for abstinence-only based sex education. And, boy-oh-boy, do they show their hypocrisy when they vote against welfare programs that benefit at-risk children.

The pro-choice camp is riddled with it’s own hypocrisies, but really the point I’m trying to make is that both parties really do (or should) have the same common goal. Decreasing unplanned pregnancies and increasing support to those that happen.

The Women’s March’s Unifying Principals (taken from https://www.womensmarch.com/principles/ on February 1, 2017)

We believe that Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights. We must create a society in which women - including Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women - are free and able to care for and nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.

ENDING VIOLENCE

Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of all forms of violence against our bodies. We believe in accountability and justice in cases of police brutality and ending racial profiling and targeting of communities of color. It is our moral imperative to dismantle the gender and racial inequities within the criminal justice system.

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

We believe in Reproductive Freedom. We do not accept any federal, state or local rollbacks, cuts or restrictions on our ability to access quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, or medically accurate sexuality education. This means open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education.

LGBTQIA RIGHTS

We firmly declare that LGBTQIA Rights are Human Rights and that it is our obligation to uplift, expand and protect the rights of our gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans or gender non-conforming brothers, sisters and siblings. We must have the power to control our bodies and be free from gender norms, expectations and stereotypes.

WORKER’S RIGHTS

We believe in an economy powered by transparency, accountability, security and equity. All women should be paid equitably, with access to affordable childcare, sick days, healthcare, paid family leave, and healthy work environments. All workers – including domestic and farm workers, undocumented and migrant workers - must have the right to organize and fight for a living minimum wage.

CIVIL RIGHTS

We believe Civil Rights are our birthright, including voting rights, freedom to worship without fear of intimidation or harassment, freedom of speech, and protections for all citizens regardless of race, gender, age or disability. We believe it is time for an all-inclusive Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

DISABILITY RIGHTS

We believe that all women’s issues are issues faced by women with disabilities and Deaf women. As mothers, sisters, daughters, and contributing members of this great nation, we seek to break barriers to access, inclusion, independence, and the full enjoyment of citizenship at home and around the world. We strive to be fully included in and contribute to all aspects of American life, economy, and culture.

IMMIGRANT RIGHTS

Rooted in the promise of America’s call for huddled masses yearning to breathe free, we believe in immigrant and refugee rights regardless of status or country of origin. We believe migration is a human right and that no human being is illegal.

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

We believe that every person and every community in our nation has the right to clean water, clean air, and access to and enjoyment of public lands. We believe that our environment and our climate must be protected, and that our land and natural resources cannot be exploited for corporate gain or greed - especially at the risk of public safety and health.