This Is Why I March

by Lindsay Combs

This weekend. I will be one of thousands participating in the Women’s March in DC. Sister marches are planned in over 600 cities around the world: a movement mobilized by our shared grief arising from the outcome of this year’s US Presidential Election.

Leading to this moment, our lives have taken place during the greatest period in human history, and yet still our intersectional experiences have been fraught with discrimination, objectification and violence.

Until now too many of us believed these problems too big and too challenging to overcome. Until now too many of us have been too shy or too afraid to speak out.

Until now too many of us felt so protected by our privilege that we were lulled into complacency.

Until now.

Now we march to create community, demonstrate solidarity and fortify ourselves for the challenges to come. We march as a penance — for our own complicit participation in systems of oppression.

We march to find forgiveness — for our loved ones who vote for those that enact policies that tyrannize us.

We march to honor our individual and collective power.

And we march as a physical demonstration of our right to choose what we do with our bodies.

While we share common purpose, we also have individual experiences driving our participation in this discourse. I personally will march as an expression of gratitude that our president-elect unwittingly sparked a national dialogue about sexual assault. I will march in DC because I have had someone grab me by my pussy without an invitation to do so.

I march because I reported my assault and asked for privacy when giving my statement to the police. Instead, I was taken to a common room where people stood by idly waiting for their copies, as I explained in excruciating detail exactly how a man had violated me. I sat as two police officers stood over me, questioning me; their guns at eye level without regard for my horror of having had one held to my body only days prior.

I march because I was asked if my assailant thought I like it rough, and if perhaps that is why he had choked me. I march because they questioned my reasons for waiting a few days to report this crime. It took that time for me to determine that what had happened was assault; I did not previously know sexual assault constitutes a broader set of actions than rape. I march because without physical evidence of this crime, the man who assaulted me has been able to continue acting as a leader in his community.

I march to honor my economic opportunities lost and action untaken, as for so long all I was capable of achieving was survival. I march for the people more horrified by our president- elect’s use of the word pussy than his blatant admission of grabbing women’s bodies without their permission or desire. I march because this complicity is what allows men to continue inflicting violence upon us, suppressing us.

And I march because the day after I was assaulted I went to work. And the day after that. And the day after that. There was no bereavement time to mourn the life that had been taken from me. There was no socially comfortable way to share this loss with others, and therefore no sympathy for the trauma I endured.

I march because I am one of thousands who have suffered in silence, and we will not be silent anymore.

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