This Saturday a small miracle happened in Madison—the first ever (at least to my knowledge) Women’s March. The march was organized by the amazing women of Madison’s Indivisible chapter. There were speeches and signs and singing and everything you’d expect a march to have. And some things you might not expect.
My husband and I went, but we stopped at Datillo’s for groceries first, because, you know, they usually close around noon so there wouldn’t be time after. My husband marched up and down Main Street carrying a bag of groceries and that seems appropriate on so many levels. It’s how we small town folks do things—we multi-task. It also seems just right because getting the groceries is part of what a lot of women do—we get the groceries. We think about what’s for dinner. We feed people. And when we have to, we march.
And, of course, it was my husband carrying the groceries, because, here’s a not so big secret—in our house, he’s the mostly the grocery-buyer. He’s the kitchen cleaner. And the living room cleaner. And, yes, pretty much every other room in the house. This is part of how we figure it out in our house, which doesn’t mean it’s how it should work for everyone. Just that everyone should be able to figure out for themselves, rather than falling back on a set of rules laid out for you. This is what feminism has always meant to me—more freedom for women and men to do what works for them rather than what someone else tells them to do.
So we carried our groceries and we chatted with our friends. Some folks from local businesses stuck their head out the door and cheered or honked their horns as they drove by. We are Midwesterners, so we were aggressively cheerful to people who weren’t marching and they were cheerful back, because those are the rules, at least for mostly straight, white Midwesterners like ourselves.
We marched and I cried because I cry at almost all public gatherings. Parades, weddings and, of course, funerals. But sometimes just at middle school band concerts. I look around and think to myself, “Look at us all, united in our love for our children, which drives us to come sit on uncomfortable seats in a stuffy gym and listen to them play music badly.” What a beautiful thing that is.
There were about a hundred people walking up and down the streets on Saturday, which is pretty impressive for a town of about 13,000. There were older women and men, college students, and one little boy dressed as Thor, hammer and all. There were signs about women’s rights and gender equality, but there were also a lot of signs about DACA and protecting Dreamers. In the best spirit of what a women’s movement should mean, the cause was larger than gender equality.
A tiny march of about a hundred people may not seem like much of a miracle unless you grew up in a place like Madison. I know for the people in the small town where I grew up, protest doesn’t come naturally. It seems showy, like you’re trying to draw too much attention to yourself. Protest might require you to be outright rude or to shout. You have to push people very far to get them out on the streets and we have been pushed. We have been pushed.
So a march of about a hundred people in Madison, Indiana, may not seem like a big deal. Or maybe like a canary in the coal mine, it tells us a lot about the state of the world. If you push hard enough, even people in Madison will eventually take to the streets.