Sunday, January 22, 2017

The March

I'd like to believe that we can believe different things and still believe that we all want what's best for our country. Instead, in the last few days, I've seen friends make each other out to be villains and I realize that by writing this post I've opened myself up to all sorts of criticism, along with readers who will click away and not come back.

I let it sit all night, remembering the "I'm so disappointed in you" message that popped up in my inbox an hour after I wrote that post about deciding to wear pants again and wondering what kind of backlash would follow. 

In the end though I want to be honest with you. I want to use my little corner of the internet to explain why yesterday's March was important.

And if that's a deal breaker for some readers, I understand. But I've always shared quite a bit with you here and I don't think I'm ready to stop now just because it may make a number of people angry.  If I'm going to be a coward here, afraid to write what I really think, than I need to stop writing altogether and be done with it.

Before I start, a number of people online yesterday seemed to believe that the women at the March were actually showing up with knitted hats that were supposed to look like female anatomy because they were named after that word that our President so crudely used. Yes, the hats were crudely named. But they were made to look like cat ears.

And if you have a bigger problem with women wearing cat ear hats than you do with the President gleefully discussing grabbing women by that same body part, you may want to think about that for a while and ask yourself why the one was excusable and the other is causing indignation and hatred.

Today I saw quite a few people talking about the Woman's March that was taking place in Washington D.C. and about the Sister Marches that were taking place around the world.

There had been a stir earlier this week in the prolife world when New Wave Feminists, who was a partner in the march, was told that they were no longer welcome in the march because of their prolife beliefs.  

Now to be honest, upon hearing this news I did pause.  I wasn't entirely certain I was going to the march to begin with.  I knew that if I went it would be me and the five kids, and the very idea was exhausting.  

In the end I thought of the issues that are important to me and I made my decision.  

I am and will always be completely against abortion.  The issue is incredibly important to me.  

So is the issue of violence against women.

In the past year I've seen too many conversations where victims of violence, particularly of sexual violence, were blamed for the crimes perpetrated against them.  But what was she wearing? But where was she walking? Should she have really gone to that party in the first place? were questions I saw bandied about more frequently than I would have ever imagined.

Or maybe they're exactly what I have imagined.  It's not the first time I've heard those same lines.

They're why women don't come forward and don't report these crimes.  Because these questions are as common as the accusations that ripple just barely below the surface of the callously phrased words.  
Quite a few friends today have asked why we even need a woman's march.  It's totally unnecessary because women are totally and completely equal, they say.  

If you believe that I hope you stop and give a little prayer of thanksgiving that your experience in life has allowed you to maintain that belief.  Because in a society where violence against women is as common and as easily dismissed as it often is in ours, we can't be truly equal or truly free.

This is a deeply personal issue to me.  

I know that a few times over the years I've mentioned that one time the boy who I'd been talking with every night on the phone for months (although I guess officially he wasn't my boyfriend) slapped me upside the head then hit me across the back with a two by four, then bragged about it to his buddies at football practice the next day.  That wasn't my last experience with violence, unfortunately, or even the worst, but it was a particular moment that eighteen years later is still seared into my memory.

So perhaps it isn't surprising that I was horrified when I first watched the tape where our now president bragged about how he can grab women and do whatever he wants to with them.  

I winced when I heard people dismiss it as "locker room talk,"  

I felt faintly ill when I heard people say that "all men talk like that."  

No, that isn't true.  And even it were it wouldn't be an excuse.

Perhaps I shouldn't even get started on the topic that I'm the most passionate about these days: disabilities.  

I sat in the PICU this last week watching CSPAN and staring at the oxygen monitor above Tessie's bed.  I watched the woman who will likely be the future Secretary of Education as she bumbled her way through the hearing, fairly reeking of incompetence.    

I heard her say, when asked about disabled children attending public schools, that she thought that was a decision best left up to the states.  When she was corrected and informed that IDEAS is in fact a federal law she said that she must have been confused.  

I have watched our now President flail about mocking a disabled reporter.  I've been told that I can't believe my own eyes, that it's just the liberal media telling me what to think, that he wasn't really mocking him when using the movements that are stereotypically used to mock the differently-abled.  

And if you believe that I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Between the current Secretary of Education pick and the Attorney General pick (he spoke against IDEAS long ago), and Trump's own behavior, as the mother of a child with a disability I have serious concerns about the future my child will face.  

And yes, I've been told I have nothing to worry about, and that my worries aren't valid, and even that "no one would argue that kids with disabilities can't go to public schools" which was bestowed upon me by someone with no experience with disabilities of any sort.  

But as I gear up to use this law to ensure Maggie does get to go to school next year, after having a conversation with a special education director who told me "we have absolutely nothing for her" followed by the remainder of last year's school year not returning my calls, I can confidently say that these laws exist for a reason.  

The horror stories of the past are not so far removed that they've been forgotten.  

All of this was in my mind when I thought about marching.  

And then I thought about my daughters.  Someday Sadie will be old enough to understand the things that our current president has said about women.  They're out there in the world, along with whatever else he says in the future, and it will be recorded for posterity.  

I want her to remember that when these things were being said and accepted by many people in our nation as normal her mother spoke out and said that it was unacceptable.  

So we trekked into town and walked for fifteen minutes after parking as close as we possibly could to listen to the speakers and to stand beside others who feel that they have something to say that needs to be heard.

There were people carrying signs about race, and about the environment, about healthcare, about the glass ceiling, and yes, even about abortion.  

I didn't agree with every person there today.  Sadie and I had a long discussion about that fact. 

I didn't agree with some of the organizers.  But I wasn't going to let someone else dictate to me what it means to march for basic human rights.  

I am prolife.  I am pro woman.  And I feel increasingly that neither party is particularly interested in basic human rights from conception to death, beyond using issues of life and death to command votes.  

I wish that there was a party that represented what I believe in.  But right now there isn't.  And that is another reason why I march.

On our way to the march today the kids and I said a rosary for our president, not that he would be successful in his agenda but that he would be a good man and a good leader for our country.  

I'm going to keep praying for him and for our nation.  

And I'll keep clinging to the belief that the things that we have in common are greater than the things that tear us apart.  


  1. Well said! I agree with everything you've said here. I didn't march but I wish I had been able to.

    I am a Catholic mother and professional woman.

  2. Good for you! Feminism is about so many things other than abortion. When we let abortion rights be synonymous with feminism, those who wish to oppress and mistreat women are given power. Women's rights are human rights. If one of us is oppressed; we all are. Women are not safe and equal in the United States. Disabled women, women of color, professional women, mothers - all face unncessary challenges. We must band together, despite our differences, and be heard.

  3. Cammie, I have more to say here than I know I have time for!
    Bravo to you!!
    I think you are an amazing mother. You really are.
    Participating in a march is not something I'd normally do. But my husband and two kids were there with me yesterday as we marched with friends and many others. My husband questioned what the purpose of the march was, so I did some research to find the exact words used. He supports women's rights, so he could get behind that. I told him that I thought people would be there for many other reasons, but that rights for women was the main reason for this march. But because we are women, we won't stop there. We are mothers, daughters, sisters wives, and more. I'm all of those and a teacher too. So mocking a disabled person was unaccceotable to me, because within my roles, I know disabled people. That "locker room talk" was completely unacceptable, regardless of when he said it (he was an adult at the time!).
    Though I am Catholic, and my entire education has been in Catholic schools, I support gay rights, because love is love. It doesn't hurt me or others. It's love. And Jesus was accepting of everyone, non-judgmental. He loved everyone. So I believe God accepts, supports, and loves everyone. And the same goes for religions. The purpose of religion is not to say that someone isn't "right" if they don't believe in what you believe in. Each religion's ideals are to make its believers a better person, kinder, loving, to our world and each other.
    As far as pro-life goes, I am so stuck. In college I wrote a persuasive argument in support of pro-choice. So I have the facts, because I did my research. Personally, I am pro-life. But I'm knowing that we have separation of church and state (supposed to, anyway), that not every woman believes the same thing I do, that we all come from different places, I have to support pro-choice. Now that I am a mother, that pro-choice stance is one of the hardest to live with. Because I really don't want to believe in abortion. But I know women and girls will go to extreme, dangerous measures to get or perform their own abortion. As a mom, I also believe that women who are faced with a pregnancy they don't want in the beginning can be a blessing and bring about the most wonderful reward:a baby. Terminating a pregnancy seems like an unbearable option. (I am running out of time here!). I am so stuck on this issue! Things in my life have made me shift my beliefs a bit about this, and maybe learning new information and living more will change them more, but right there in the middle, just slightly off to one side, is where I am on that for now. I hope that one can understand that.
    I think many people have a lack of empathy and/or are just plain ignorant. I support education access for all, because the more educated we are, the better we will be, the more successful we will be, as a whole. It seems like some people like keeping us uneducated for their own good. Keep fighting for your kids-you are doing a great job! As a teacher and a mother, I know I will keep fighting for education too.
    I have to end, but know that overall, I believe that love is huge. One of my favorite posters yesterday (aside from the funny and punny ones) was from a Catholic organization: "The only solution is love." We all have to love each other. It's that simple.

  4. We didn't march yesterday because my husband finally had a day off and it was important to spend time as a family. He has different views than I do, and the election and the events after have really opened my eyes to the work I have before me in my own home. He has written off my concerns regarding our disabled son's eduction and access to healthcare. He maintains the belief that women aren't treated as less than, and if we were, it's our own fault. If we don't support and respect each other, how are we to expect men to treat us respectfully? I've argued with that point, but in a way he is right. We must come together if we are to face issues of inequality. I worry for my daughter, who will make less money and have less options for a career than her male counterparts. I worry for her safety, because it is likely she will face assault or rape in her lifetime- and that is unacceptable. My husband is excited for the future, and he cannot understand why I would feel differently. As a white male in law enforcement, he doesn't face the same struggles I do and he cannot even imagine the struggles our disabled son and our daughter will face. I will read him this post, because he needs to see that feminism isn't about bashing our way into awareness. He needs to read your story, as do men like him. I pray your story is spread, because it aligns with mine and many others. Give your children hugs from this stranger and know I stand with you.

  5. The reason I wouldn't march yesterday, even though I agree with you 1 Million Percent about the attitude toward violence toward women, and especially sexual violence like rape or a lax attitude toward non-consensual sex, and treating woman with sexual disregard; about disrespect for those disabled (makes my blood boil too!); and attitudes in the workplace that still can assign women to support roles rather than decision making roles, is that I could never ever join walking along with women who are all for birth control and abortion and are pro-gay.

    I really did see these rallies and marches being hijacked by Planned Parenthood the pro-abortion industry, and some of the pro-gay agenda. And there is no way anyone watching would know I don't want to support those things while I do want our leaders to know about my support of the other issues. Just like I would never go to a KKK rally even if they also publicly supported people with disabilities, their main thrust, their main objective is racism and white supremacy. I would not want to be seen in their company.

    This is why I didn't go to a rally, but think women still do need to let our administration know some of the attitudes exhibited by Mr. Trump are not okay. Very, very not okay.

    God bless. ~ Bonnie

    1. I think your second paragraph sums up my thoughts very well, Bonnie.

    2. Agree with this. And a lot of the messages and posters were just things I would not willingly associate myself with or want to be seen supporting.

  6. While I think the march was not a great idea, and I disagree with you on some of the points, I will not be boycotting your blog. I appreciate that we see things differently, and your concerns are deeply felt. I'm not sure of what our president will bring, but hopefully this country will do some new and wonderful things. It was so thoughtful of you to pray for him! It seems not many are willing to do that.
    (Although Mr Trump has his flaws, I did not support his opponent who actively covered up violence against women in her husband past. Quite frankly, her actions spoke louder than his words to me.)

    1. You said this well, pretty much sums up my opinion.

  7. I completely agree with you. And I'm sorry that anyone was told pro-life women were not welcome. Only inclusivity will heal the divisiveness that plagues this country. Onward...

  8. I marched as well, because social justice issues are important to me. And I recognize that I am probably in the minority among Catholics, but I believe that the best way to prevent abortions is not by legislating against them and driving women into back alleys. Instead, I believe that supporting women and families coupled with education and social services for people with disabilities would make women more likely to keep unplanned pregnancies or babies with disabilities.

    I have 3 young daughters. One of them has brown skin. I stood up for them because of their intrinsic dignity as human beings, not as the subject of future objectification.

  9. You were within your right to go, as we're all the people who did. I have no problem with the peaceful gatherings that took place. I also have no problem with the fact that 50% of the country didn't vote the way I did. We can still be respectful. Trump certainly wasn't my ideal candidate. He is very flawed. But so was Hillary. She is certainly not a woman I look up to, and I do not believe she cares about the people and causes she claims to care about, other than for their vote. She says what is the perceived popular thing to say. I wish there had been a leading candidate I really respected. There wasn't. So I chose the lesser of two evils. People had a chance to vote, and they did. I think your reasons for attending may have been honorable, but I think a lot, and actually most, of the people there were just having a temper tantrum over their candidate losing. And many, many of them had signs that said offensive things. That's not the example I want for my children. And many of them are completely intolerant of varying opinions. Not a cause I would be proud to support. I don't expect government to be the main moral authority or to be responsible for my children. So regardless of who was elected, we were not going to rid the world of its evils.

  10. Dear Anonymous--I met no one at the march who was having a temper tantrum over their candidate losing. I certainly wasn't. I was marching FOR, not against--for women, children, people of all abilities and ethnicities. I don't want them forgotten.

    1. Would you be doing it if Hillary won? Doubt it. It would make a lot more sense to protest/march after Trump dies something you think is wrong or hurts women, children, a specific ethnicity or disability. This occurred the day sherry Trump took office, so please, don't pretend it wasn't against Trump.

  11. You are not wrong. About any of those very real concerns. Thank you for standing up!

  12. Thank you for writing about and sharing your experiences. Don't be afraid to express yourself and your thoughts. If a small minority doesn't, that's their loss. I'm appreciated your point of view on your decision to attend the march. I'm not a march person due to PTSD but I appreciate those who went and represent those of us who are pro-life and pro-women.

  13. I have been reading you for years and identified very strongly with your frustration with organized worship & your daughter's needs and how they conflicted - I have similar stories. We aren't at all similar politically but THANK YOU for marching yesterday. I agree so much with your reasons. Thank you.

  14. "And if you have a bigger problem with women wearing cat ear hats than you do with the President gleefully discussing grabbing women by that same body part, you may want to think about that for a while and ask yourself why the one was excusable and the other is causing indignation and hatred."

    THIS! THIS! THIS! 1000 times, this!

    Thank you so much, Cammie - for writing this, and for marching. Thank you.

  15. I'm glad your march experience was a positive one! As a total tangential note, I did find it interesting that the headlines I saw about Betsey DeVos revolved around her school choice positions (no joke, an NYT FB summary said "Betsey DeVos thinks parents should have a say in what school their child attends" - I think you can hold just about any opinion on school choice/vouchers and not think that that's a ridiculous opinion) and the fact that she and her children didn't have to take out student loans. To me, those seem like generally the two least objectionable things, but they were the most talked about.

  16. Oh, and PS I really looked/look up to you as someone who wasn't afraid to express your particular modesty convictions, even if they were outside the mainstream (no pants, wearing headcoverings) and I'm not at all bothered by the fact that you started wearing pants again. Being willing to express yourself includes deciding that you don't feel called to do something a particular way anymore!

  17. I agree with 100% of what you said and you will certainly not be loosing me as a reader. Every body has different ideas about what is best for the economy and what is best for the society, but there is some basic level of respect and a code of conduct that is necessary in a public servant, much more a President. It amazes me that any Catholic could vote Trump, not only his behaviour is not Christian, but he is not a friend of religious minorities, and in the US, that's what Catholics are.
    Lucía (in Spain)

  18. Oh, and about the pants: I never undestood why that is a problem. I think we should focus less on what people wear and more on how we act towards other people.
    Lucía (in Spain)

  19. I just typed out a whole response and realized I was basically just echoing what Lucia said above. I frequently disagree with you politically, but this transcends politics. Bravo for standing up for what is right, even if you had to march next to people whose views on other issues you might totally disagree with. I marched with a friend who is on the opposite end of the political spectrum and was happy to do so.

  20. I support your right to march but I would never march myself, and align myself with the pro abortion crowd. The vulgarity of the speeches and many of the signs I saw literally made me sick. How do people think it is ok to display such vulgarity in public? And those hats were shameful. So sad.

    1. Compared to the vulgarity that Trump has shown (while simultaneously claiming to respect women), it's hardly a blip on my radar.

      There is some benefit to shock value, even if we don't like it. It gets attention. It startles us out of our comfort zones.

      Remember that the suffragettes were considered vulgar in their day too.

  21. As someone who is both pro-LGBT rights, and pro life, I'm thrilled to see this post! I know there were some grumblings that pro-life organizations weren't invited to take part in the march, but I know of others who identify as pro-life and marched on their own.

    I think it's important to realize that not all pro-lifers follow the same belief set on other issues.

  22. I'm so encouraged to read this and so proud of you for using your platform to encourage honesty and vulnerability. May we all be encouraged thusly! You and your family are in my prayers!

  23. I'm with you 100%.


I love comments and I read every single comment that comes in (and I try to respond when the little ones aren't distracting me to the point that it's impossible!). Please show kindness to each other and our family in the comment box. After all, we're all real people on the other side of the screen!