My first trip came three months ago when I traveled from New York to knock on doors in Reading, Pennsylvania, to get out the vote for Hillary Clinton. Now I’m on the road again, making my way to the nation’s capital to join the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday. I’m going with my teenage daughter.
As a male, I’m sort of hoping they manage to take over the place, since my gender hasn’t exactly been doing a bang-up job when it comes to human rights. I’m not a joiner by nature, but I figure it’s time to woman up.
One thing I’ve discovered during my previous travels for Trump is that even those who, like me, have daughters may not care what Trump says or does — they’ll support him anyway. In Pennsylvania, I met some people who were glassy-eyed at the prospect of what would have been our first woman president. But others literally hissed at the mention of her name and slammed the door in my face.
But I care what he says and does. Listening during the campaign to Trump’s body-shaming comments about women, watching his bullying demeanor and hearing his taped boasting about being a sexual predator made me realize how much it bothers me.
Apparently, the new leader of the free world thinks a women’s role either should be serving him dinner or parading around in a bathing suit. I remember during the debates when he responded to a Clinton barb about his actions by shouting, “No one respects women more than I do.” I think what he meant to say was, “No one inspects women more than I do.”
That’s why I’m taking this second Trump trip Saturday. My 16-year-old traveling companion is at that tender age when she can first detect the steady drumbeat of life’s injustices. I remember that time, of being outraged at the cultivated ignorance that allowed it to continue. Why haven’t things changed, I remember thinking.
I grew up in an era before Gloria Steinem was a household name and my hometown in the Midwest wasn’t exactly a hotbed of enlightenment. Maybe that’s why my feelings about women were pretty much old school even in the early years of my first marriage.
The realization that women’s rights are human rights came later with the birth of two daughters. Funny how daughters turn your vision around.
My first went on to earn a doctorate, but she still tells me stories about encountering barriers for females in the professional world. My teenager, the one from my second marriage, attends a racially mixed high school and already sees the built-in disadvantages some of her friends face. I want her to grow up in a world where a woman controls her own body and determines her own future.
All this took a long time to sink in over the years. But what do you expect? I’m a guy.
I expect Saturday’s march will bring worthy speeches, roaring crowds. I am hoping that at some point, our new President will look out at the ocean of people and think, “Perhaps, I should keep in mind that the majority of people in this country voted for the other candidate.” But I have a feeling he will be thinking, “I wonder how many of these people will buy my book?”
I’m hoping other men — or other dads — will join us in Washington. I’ll be the gray-haired guy trudging along with his daughter in solidarity with fellow citizens in a multiracial, female, male, trans, disabled, indigenous, immigrant, lesbian, gay rainbow.
Yeah, me. The guy from the Midwest who didn’t become a feminist until he decided to raise one. Who knew.
I’m pretty sure that unlike our thin-skinned new resident in the White House, we are all going to get along great. And that everyone will get their say — equally. I hope, like me, he finally gets the message.