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The Women’s March — Why America Needs More Women in Charge

Sign created by Tim Rozwadowski

Published in ChicagoNow, January 30, 2017

What is the most remarkable thing about all of the women’s marches that took place January 21? The huge turnouts? The enthusiasm and start of a movement? For me, it was the complete lack of violence coupled with the spirit of collaboration and inclusion. This is one reason #WhyIMarched.

Having worked all of my life in female-dominated cultures, the tone of a woman’s protest should not have surprised me. At Cherry Preschool, which I founded and directed, we congratulated ourselves on being a team of teams. Our work culture was one of listening, respecting, compromising, accepting, and appreciating our differences. One of my favorite moments at staff meetings occurred when a teacher said, “I have an idea,” and everyone actually heard and considered what she had to say.

Contrast that with the testosterone filled tone of Trump’s administration. Yes, there is Kellyanne Conway. But the optics of rich white men in suits making pronouncements about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own body feels so wrong. Another reason #WhyIMarch. Throughout Trump’s campaign, there was an underlying threat of violence toward anyone who disagreed and an undertone of hate and exclusion. The notions of collaboration and compromise were nonexistent. Remember “I alone can fix it”? Well, in his first week in office, Trump and his team of stern men delivered on several of his campaign promises and hurt many of us in the process.

In contrast, while there were some signs at the Chicago Women’s March I attended that were of questionable taste, most leaned toward the side of love and inclusion. One of my favorites implored us to “Love one another right now.” This line was from Get Together, a song covered by the Youngbloods and many other groups in the 60s. The part of its lyrics asking us to smile on our brothers would be deemed politically incorrect in 2017 at a women’s rally, but who can quarrel with the message, “Everybody get together, try to love one another, right now”?

At what male dominated march have you seen signs that read, “Kindness respect and integrity matter” or “Love is love”? At what other gathering of 250,000 people have you seen a peaceful walk down the streets of a major city after the crowd was told that the march portion had been cancelled due to the enormous size of the rally? There were no confrontations with police trying to stop the crowd. There were no arrests. This time, “the whole world was watching,” but what it saw was something new.

Hillary Clinton conceded the election, something I doubt Donald Trump would have done. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for her to attend his inauguration, but in the role of a former first lady and in the spirit of the peaceful transition of power, she came. And what did she hear? Some men shouting, “Lock her up.” Even in victory, they did not have the grace and frankly good manners to keep their mouths shut. And this too is #WhyIMarch.

Maybe in 2016, our country was astonishingly still not ready for a woman President. Maybe Hillary just wasn’t the right woman. But make no mistake about it. We are watching and we are coming.


by Laurie Levy
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