Women’s March: ‘I didn’t bring my daughters so they’d become raging feminists’
Why I brought my daughters to the solidarity march in Dublin and what they thought of it
If I asked my children how they might like to spend their Saturday afternoon, marching through town in the freezing cold would not be high up on their wish list. With daughters aged 12, nine and six, if it doesn’t involve dance, hot chocolate or an i-device, they’re not interested.
I could have lied and said we were going to watch an X-Factor celeb sing, but Donald Trump already had that, so I admitted we were going to walk in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington protest. Their faces said “what?”.
I told them the “why” but that just drew a “have you packed snacks?” concern.
They were intrigued enough to peer at the growing gathering on Parnell Square as we approached the Garden of Remembrance. I’m not sure what they expected, but when we saw a large crowd of women, men and children from all walks of life, they seemed both relieved and disappointed.
Like a dog walk
Once we got over the confusion that we were not actually “marching” military style, merely strolling merrily along with a bunch of other people holding various humorous placards, they were even more confused. “Like a dog walk, without the dog, you mean?”
Some of the banners and posters needed explanation, and some would have to wait a few years before they would be explained. And that’s okay.
I didn’t bring my girls to the march to have them politicised.
I didn’t bring them so they would become raging feminists.
I brought them to demonstrate that resistance is an ordinary activity, and that when they face the everyday misogyny our society still allows, there is a balance between what they might experience and what they know they can do about it.
My youngest just wanted lunch, while my older two flickered between intrigued, bemused by the banners and bored. And that’s okay too. They don’t have to be shouting for equality. I was there because I wanted to march and because I wanted to show them what it means for women to stand up for themselves.
They don’t have to understand it yet but when they do, when they start to ask questions, I can say “remember when women from all over the world walked the walk of unity on the same day?”, and they were part of that.
Surrounded by smiles
As we walked down O’Connell Street, laughing and chanting, we were surrounded by kindness, smiles and banner banter.
Some placards referred to “A woman’s place is in the home”, the latter word replaced by revolution. I explained what it used to be like for women. They seemed confused and hurt.
Then we were handed stickers with Princess Leia and the words “A woman’s place is in the resistance.”
“We should have worn our hair in Princess Leia buns!” wailed my eldest. “Next time!” said my middle one.
I smiled. They’re already game on for a next time. There may be more marches over the next few years and we will be there, with Princess Leia buns, banners that make people smile, and our non-marching marching feet.
Sadly, they will not always be treated as equal even though they are. They will not always be treated with the respect they deserve. I know that bringing them to a march is not going to give them the tools they need to stand up for themselves. That’s down to me, and other key adults in their lives to encourage them to strive for whatever ambitions they might hold.
But when they get the put downs and the cat calls, when they feel lessened or not valued, when their potential is ignored and their voices unheard, they might think back to this march and know they are not alone, and that if they keep marching through life they will keep making a better world for themselves and their own children.
As Barack Obama said: “If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.”
Marching today was only one step toward and through their womanhood, but it was a key step down the right path.