Many people are hurting today, in lieu of President Trump’s inauguration, and even though I am a Canadian, it was still difficult to watch. This isn’t the place where I normally share my political views, but it is a place where I practice expressing myself authentically, and a place where I learn and evolve. So:
In the last few years, I’ve felt a big shift in how I view the world. My politics have changed, yes, but more then that – I’ve learnt to hold space for people. I’ve learnt that, as I evolve, I need to leave space for people (that I don’t necessarily agree with) to evolve as well. And if there’s anything this extremely divisive election has taught me, it’s that people are not one thing. They are not one issue, they are not who they vote for, and they are not one political label.
I am someone who tries to focus more on what I am FOR, then what I am AGAINST. I want to bring about change with positivity and light, not fear and hatred. This is why, when given the opportunity to participate* in the Women’s March on Washington the day after the inauguration, I took it.
Because, to me, the Women’s March provides an opportunity to bring about positive change.
And while the Women’s March doesn’t perfectly represent my views as a woman or as a feminist, it does provide an opportunity to respond to the offensive and stigmatizing rhetoric used about women and minorities during this past election. And Canadian or not, I am a woman and it deeply troubles me that a man who has admitted to sexually assaulitng women is now the President of the United States of America.
When I heard some of the backlash around the Women’s March dropping of a Pro-Life sponsor, I was disheartened. “Am I not invited now?” I wondered. And while some feminists do believe that to be Pro-Life is to be anti-women, I don’t. I am not just pro-life, and my feminism doesn’t come down to one issue (thankfully many others agree and are still marching on Saturday).
I hold space for women who disagree on the issue of abortion, but I won’t back away from the label of Feminist for fear of being stigmatized or misunderstood. Just like I don’t back away from labeling myself a Christian, for fear of being labeled one thing (conservative, homophobic, small minded, hypocritical) because my Christianity isn’t just one thing.
And while it’s difficult for me to always understand, I hold space for people who are different then me (while also exercising my right to disagree with them in an active way, don’t get me wrong) without assuming that “they” are the problem. In the same way that disagreeing with some of the Unity Principles of the Women’s March while still participating does not mean I am anti-women or hypocritical, I accept that someone who voted for Trump isn’t automatically a bad person or anti-women.
Holding space…It’s uncomfortable, yes. But it’s what helps us stay motivated by empathy and put our commonalities first, and it keeps us from being motivated by hatred and fear, and being blinded by our differences.
And at the risk of being misunderstood, stigmatized, or feeling like a misfit as a feminist – I would rather rally behind a Women’s March that doesn’t perfectly represent my specific views and beliefs, then not rally at all. And I would rather focus on the things that unite us, as women and humans, then be weakened by our differences and not stand up against injustice. Because holding space means that I choose to see someone’s humanity, and value our similarities, more then attack their ideas or values that are different then mine. And that’s something I’m sure we’ll all have a lot of opportunity to do in the next 4 years.
“In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.” –the Women’s March on Washington, Mission and Vision
Join the March.
*my name is written on a sign of someone attending the March