Yes. Donna and I will be going to the NYC Women’s March on January 21, a satellite of the “big one” in Washington, D.C. Right now, neither Donna nor I can handle the logistics of a 5 A.M. bus trip down to Washington, the cold, figuring out where to pee, finding a place to warm up, get something to eat, and finding someone to walk and feed Gracie while we are away. We can, however, roll out of bed and get to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza by 11AM. If it is too cold, if Donna gets too tired, if we need to find a bathroom, or if we have to drop out of the march, we will manage to find our way safely home by public transportation. In time for dinner.
I looked at the web site for the Women’s March on Washington (and the satellite marches in 200 other cities) to double-check that it was clearly open to all regardless of gender and gender identity. It is, but there is no list of demands, or issues, except for a mission statement which condemns the hateful rhetoric of the election, and reminds us that “women’s rights are human rights” and that “we will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society”.
Nothing about the right-wing attack on reproductive rights, abortion, and health care. Nothing about voting rights, poverty, and mass incarceration. Nothing about rape culture, misogyny, homophobia, or transphobia. Nothing to scare anyone away. Nothing for anyone to disagree with.
I have a complicated relationship to some traditional “women’s issues”. I never wanted to have a family (marriage or children). I was never attracted to men, or dated a man, or slept with a man, tried to get birth control, or tried to get pregnant. I was never afraid of getting pregnant or needing an abortion. While I was, and still am, afraid of getting mugged or bashed by men – I was not consciously afraid of being raped. I haven’t been groped on the subway or cat-called since I was in high school. This puts me in a very small minority; almost all of my friends actively use or used contraception, have kids, and/or had abortions (legal and illegal).
I never related to mainstream images of women, and never tried to match my gender expression or presentation to society’s expectations. I never tried to please men (or women), to flirt with men, or to act subserviently. As a result, I am often mocked, ignored, excluded, talked over, dismissed (middle age and gray hair), and condescended to.
On a daily basis, what irks me about being “treated like a woman” is the rudeness. The times that men interrupt me while I am in the middle of a sentence, correct me when I am already right, ostentatiously check their email while I speak, or restate what I said as if I hadn’t already said it and as if it is their original idea. The idea that I am somehow not as smart, as valuable, as original, or as thoughtful as someone who was born male. I don’t want to be reduced to the F on my birth certificate, the (ever decreasing) estrogen in my system, or my uterus (which was surgically removed). I am more than my legal gender, hormones, and body parts. This is universal.
While I do not identify as female (I’ll take queer, butch, transmasculine, trans, and/or non-binary), I am often treated like one, and I like it about as much as everyone else, does. I’ll be joining them on the march, objecting to mansplaining, misogyny, Mike Pence, and Donald Trump.
Notes: Rebecca Solnit is the author of “Men Explain Things To Me”, a great essay about what it is like to be a woman, a researcher, and a writer. It is the best article on mansplaining. Her original essay is reprinted here in Guernica magazine with a new introduction. Sometimes I feel like cisgender people explain things to me, and it is just as pleasant.