The Women’s March, Feminism, and Empathy by June Lucarotti

“Do you want to come to The Women’s March?”

“I’m a guy.”

Feminism is not about excluding men. Let’s just get that out of the way. It’s not about exclusion, period.

I went to the Women’s March with a man. And with an observer’s eye. At a Boulder Writers Warehouse (BWW) meeting earlier in the week, ten of us had an impassioned conversation on the role of the poet in this movement and in many movements arising in response to Trump’s executive orders. What we came to, it seemed, was not simply a duty to yell words at folks (also sometimes appropriate) but to listen. That’s how we got into this mess. Not listening.

I listened to the man with me. I listened to the women, men, and otherwise identified people around me. I still spoke. (Listening and speaking not being exclusive.) Our BWW group, via the dedicated Ellie Swensson, brought flyers with the C.A.R.E. acronym on them: a simple acrostic invitation that further extended the mission of the march. Ellie said it felt like a personal contemplative practice in handing out the acrostics and people who received them seemed generally excited to write.

We are stuck on the negation of another, a mutual exclusion, the “but.” The way I see it, it is the role if the poet (and really, the human) to bring forth that “and.”

It is the ever-elusive “AND” that is missing from our dialogues. Missing from some versions of the feminist conversation or perception. Missing from Trump’s executive orders. We are stuck on the negation of another, a mutual exclusion, the “but.” The way I see it, it is the role if the poet (and really, the human) to bring forth that “and.” I saw this as a major goal of the Women’s March as well.

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The Women’s March on Washington

When I first moved to Boulder (even coming from San Francisco and giving lectures at UC Berkeley on intersectional feminism) I still thought feminism was a dirty word. “I believe in equal rights, but I’m not really a feminist.”

I was met with a fallen jaw, but a quick and generous assessment. “Then, you are a feminist.”

I tried on telling people I was a feminist. I’ve tried it on for five years now and it fits. Somehow “feminist” got wrapped up in the abundance of playground (and adult) insult words related to women: pussy, cunt, douche (yes.) And no, I’m not arguing that words like dick and asshole don’t exist. I’m frustrated that I need to explain feminism in relation to men before we get to the real stuff. But I remember that like those who shared with me, my first job is humility.

For many, The Women’s March was their first protest. This is HUGE. The signs ranged from the hilarious to the terrifyingly serious. The chanting children brought tears to my eyes. They are learning compassion early. And the speakers ranged from powerful politicians to articulate non-profit activists to musicians and artists. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Muslim-American women, black women, queer women (and those who don’t identify as women,) ministers, teachers, and therapists. I relate to some speakers better than others. And that’s why having so many voices in this movement are important.

In my elementary and preschool classrooms it is the conversation we (mostly female) teachers have over and over again with our students. How can you see the other side? How can you share? How can you include others?

 With so many topics at hand, I asked myself about the over-arching mission of the march, it struck me that women (and those otherwise identified) were here to stand up for ourselves as well as others. The Women’s March felt synonymous with a march for Empathy. Inclusion. Immigration rights and anti-racism. Access to healthcare and free speech. In my elementary and preschool classrooms it is the conversation we (mostly female) teachers have over and over again with our students. How can you see the other side? How can you share? How can you include others?

Empathy. Contrary to popular belief, empathy is a powerful quality. And it endures. As one of the speakers said, “We are women. We are resilient. That’s what we do.”

The feminist men I have know have also taught me the importance of humility. They are happy to take themselves out of the equation for a moment. They are not default villains based on their identity. They are curious, they are supportive, and they even call me out on taking up too traditional gender roles.

When we are young, we have blinders on. Most things are “mine” and we literally bump into each other while walking because we are unaware of ourselves in relation to others. For the lucky ones, development changes that.

My hope as a woman, as an educator, as an activist is that those currently in executive office and those who support them will begin to notice, appreciate, and fight for everyone’s rights. That humility and empathy will creep (or explode) its way into politics. That our representatives will act based on the knowledge that we are all tied up in this together. That we will all get curious.

“We keep talking about it. We don’t hide or ignore it. We can’t be afraid. We just keep talking.”

What’s next in the movement? https://www.womensmarch.com/100/ encourages 10 actions over the next 100 days. And it’s important to seek wisdom from those who have many more years of experience in political movements. I asked my mom what was next and she said “We keep talking about it. We don’t hide or ignore it. We can’t be afraid. We just keep talking.”

For more talk, community, and care the Boulder Writers Warehouse will encourage writing and sharing at future rallies and marches. Volasessions.com is collecting blog entries from women empowered in their bodies and those who don’t identify as women recognizing the powerful women in their lives. We will also be writing poetry postcards to our representatives at the next few Boulder Writers Warehouse Vola Sessions. More info below:

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June Lucarotti MFA, CYT-200 has 11 years of writing & meditation facilitation experience. She is proud to have facilitated at radically inclusive & social justice-minded organizations like CU’s Wesley Foundation, Glide Foundation, UC Berkeley, Community College of San Francisco, Oakland Unified School District, Naropa University, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, Costa Rica’s Aventuras Naturales, Boulder Valley School District, Originateve, BAFs, and various non-profits serving the homeless. June currently facilitates a weekly writing & yoga workshop Mondays 6:30-8:30pm at the Boulder Writers Warehouse. She also teaches at Soul Tree Yoga & Alicia Sanchez Elementary. June provides writing & yoga self-care sessions in Spanish or English in-person & online. For a free 30-minute phone consultation, please call or text (720) 989-0942 or email volasessions@gmail.com.