Swistle’s First Protest

Have you seen that picture of a guy at a protest holding up a sign that says “Not usually a sign guy but geez”? That is basically my position. I’ve never been to a protest, not because I haven’t objected to things before but because protests and signs and chanting have not been my thing.

But geez.

We are deciding right now, as a country, whether we’re going to shut people out of our country (including people begging for our help escaping an enemy we share) based on race and religion. That idea fills me with cold horror. So I vote no. And to be more precise, I vote HELL NO. And when what you want to say is “HELL NO,” a protest is a good place to say it.

Here were my anxieties, before the protest:

1. What if there’s not enough parking at the subway station.
2. I don’t know how to use the subway.
2a. I don’t know how to buy a ticket.
2b. I don’t know how to tell what direction the train is going.
2c. I don’t know how to switch lines, or if I need another ticket for that.
2d. I don’t know where to get off the train, or what to do after that.
3. The whole finding-a-place-to-pee situation.
4. I hate cities.
5. I have trouble with maps. How do I find where the protest is?
6. Should I make a sign? What should it say? I feel self-conscious.
7. What if I hate the feel of being in a big crowd?
8. What if things get violent?
9. What if we all run at once and people are getting trampled?
10. Do I have to worry about other people knowing I’m there?
11. Do I really have to leave my phone at home? But what if I need it?
12. Will there be repercussions for this, for me or my family?
13. What if no one else shows up?
14. GOING TO A PROTEST AT ALL, THE WHOLE THING

I think it helped that it happened fast. I debated about the women’s march for weeks, and eventually talked myself out of it. Afterward, I wished I’d been a part of it. This time I had less time to think, and also I could remind myself of my previous feelings of regret.

Also, Rob and William said they wanted to go with me. This increased both my anxieties and my interest in going. It added these anxieties:

15. What if they get hurt?
16. What if there are repercussions for them—colleges, jobs, etc.?
17. What if we get separated in the crowds?
18. Wait, but now we REALLY NEED our phones.
19. I don’t really know what I’m getting them into, and one of them is a minor.

Well. But we went. We did bring our phones. We turned off location and turned off the phones and we password-protected the lockscreens; according to protesting tips lists that may not have been enough, but that is what we did.

We made a flappy uncertain effort at signs, using half-size posters we keep on hand for school projects. I felt self-conscious about what I wanted to write in large letters and then hold near my face, and spent a fretful half-hour looking through pictures of other protests for things I felt reflected my thoughts on the topic. We ended up with signs that fell well within range: ours weren’t as funny or creative or clever as a lot of the signs we saw, but there were people there with signs written on the torn-off upper half of a pizza box, so.

I wanted a sign without a stick, and on flexible paper I could roll up, to make it easier to bring on the subway. But TONS of people on the subway had rigid signs with sticks, and that worked just fine, and that kind of sign is WAY easier to use AT the protest. We made a note: next time we will favor rigid signs with sticks.

I’m sorry, yes, that was two paragraphs just about making the signs. Those of us who’ve been in the “not really a sign girl” category have a bit of a learning curve to deal with.

We did find parking at the train station. On a weekday that station can easily reach capacity, but it was a weekend. It was surprisingly full for a weekend, but there were spaces. We found an ATM-like machine that said it sold tickets, and I managed to figure out how to buy some. I bought adult tickets for Rob and William when probably they could have had student tickets, but I was in no frame of mind to figure out the details. I noticed that at other machines, people were asking other people how to work the machine; this gave me a happy feeling that I could have help if I needed it. No one seemed to be impatient. When I went to another city on a weekday once, the people behind us in line were reaching around and saying, “SIGH, no, like THIS,” which is helpful in its own way but also a little flustering.

There were bathrooms at the subway and we thought we’d better take any chance. In line, a girl started talking to me in a friendly way: “Not as busy as last week!” (she meant the women’s march, I assumed). And I said I hadn’t been there last week but I’d heard it was amazing, and she said “SO AMAZING. But this is looking good too!”

I joined Rob and William in the hall outside the bathrooms, and I suggested my plan: ditch the three pages of subway maps and directions, and do this by the “follow other people who have signs” method. Rob was not a fan of this plan. I persevered, and I was correct: it made the whole thing easy. We knew already which train to get onto at the start, but if we hadn’t known, we could have followed. Then we followed people off that train and onto a different line (i.e., a different train route), and then we followed them when they got off at a stop, and then we followed them down a couple of city blocks, and then we arrived with them at the protest.

I don’t know how many people were there, but “lots.” There were helicopters flying overhead, and I saw overhead photos later and it looks like just hella lots of people. I was glad to find that big crowds don’t freak me out—but if things HAD felt too close, it would have been easy to get more on the outside of the group for more air: most people were trying to get further IN.

We weren’t close enough to be able to hear the main speakers, even though they were REALLY YELLING into a microphone. (The protest was larger than expected, and we were kind of around a corner.) So that was a little boring, to stand there listening to what we couldn’t hear. Periodically the speaker would, apparently, start a familiar chant, and then the crowd would join in. Some of the chants made me feel self-conscious: I am not naturally inclined to yell things that start with “Hey hey! Ho ho!” and then add a rhyming line. But okay, fine, I did some of it. And I liked other chants better. There was one with a very catchy rhythm, almost song-like, where a few really loud people in the crowd would yell “SHOW ME WHAT AMERICA LOOKS LIKE!” and the whole crowd would yell back “THIS IS WHAT AMERICA LOOKS LIKE!” and I kept getting choked up. …It’s a lot better when you can hear it. I’ll bet they sing-chant it at all the protests now, so you can hear it if you go.

It felt good to be in a big crowd of people who felt the way I did about the situation. That is just always going to feel nice.

It was fun to see all the signs: there were a lot of good/funny/clever ones.

I’d wondered how we’d know it was over, and whether there’d be a mad dash for the trains. The way we knew it was over was that someone with a really loud voice said “Thank you all for coming, be safe!” and there was some cheering and then we all started walking back to the train. Probably there were some people walking briskly to get there ahead of others, but I didn’t have that impression of the crowd as a whole: casual strolling, lots of chatting. We were able to get onto the first train that arrived after we did, though it ended up being crammed full—but the subway had arranged extra trains, so there was another one coming along in 2 minutes and another one coming 2 minutes after that. It felt as if everyone (police, subway) was VERY familiar with how to deal with the extra crowds, no big deal, all in a day’s work.

I would have been more nervous about the packed-full trains (we are STANDING UP on a moving vehicle and all crammed together with strangers), but everyone else was so yawningly chill about it (reading paperback while swaying, or chatting with someone else, or literally yawning while looking out the window) and that calmed me. Also, in both directions I was right next to someone holding a sweet, calm, well-behaved little dog in their arms, and in both cases the owner said it was okay to pet the dog’s soft little ears, so in both cases I did. A calm soft dog ear is even better than a worry stone.

I was glad I’d gone. And I felt so much better getting the first one done: for me the worst part is not knowing how things will go and not knowing how to handle all the logistics. Even if the next protest I go to is in a completely different location, I’ve still learned a lot of the basics and will be much less nervous next time. And when you are in a very low-power situation, it is nice to be able to say you DID do some of the things you COULD do.

58 thoughts on “Swistle’s First Protest

  1. Felicia

    I just want to say that I am really thankful for your blog. Please don’t ever stop writing it! That is all; carry on! :)

  2. Susan

    This in many ways echoes my concerns and my experience at the Women’s March (Boston). I didn’t worry so much about GETTING there, as I know how to get to and around Boston, but we also took another woman who didn’t have a clue and she was so grateful to tag along (and she paid for gas, so that was a big help). The conductor on the train was SUPER helpful and funny and I’m sure he was frustrated with all of the train newbies, but he didn’t get impatient. I had our tickets on my phone and the conductor had to help with that, and then he teased a group of 20-somethings who had cash and DIDN’T use phone tickets. Like, I don’t expect these old ladies to use their phones, but you guys.

    I worried about bringing my adult daughter, but it was fine. She doesn’t like crowds for the most part, but I told her that it was important BECAUSE it was hard, and I think she agreed. I waited until almost the last minute for my sign and decided early on that I wanted it to be POSITIVE and not snarky (not that I didn’t appreciate some of the clever, snarky signs). I didn’t bring a stick because I didn’t have one, but a lot of people hung their signs around their necks and I thought that was really smart to keep your hands free.

    My biggest concern was about being trampled, and towards the end I started focusing on that until finally I had to leave, which was fine because everybody didn’t have the opportunity to march because of the huge crowd.

  3. Laurie M.

    I think you are wonderful. I love that you calmly state all of the points of anxiety that you had, as well as that you OVERCAME them. I did not march this past weekend, but I did march on the 21st. I took my older daughter with me, and it made it so much easier than if I had been alone. Alone, I would have felt self-conscious and out-of-place. As I was there with my daughter, my primary role was mother. Since I am confident as a mother, I kinda pretended I was confident as a marcher, too. As for logistics, I went to a small sister march (only 10000 marchers) and I did not carry a sign. In this instance, I felt that I was only a drop in the bucket, but I was an important drop.
    I am proud of you, Swistle. We can all do Something.

  4. Katie

    Ok, so I’m reading this post in a university library and kind of crying a little. Swistle, you’re a really really really good mom.

  5. Chris

    This was a fantastic post, thank you for doing it. And thank you (SO MUCH) for marching for those of us who couldn’t. Can it be not condescending to say I’m proud of you? I’m so proud of you. And thank you for empowering your kids to protest injustice. <3

  6. Maggie

    I’m so proud of you for going and so glad that you had a good experience! The women’s march was my first public activist event and now I know that it’s completely doable. I also got a little choked up while reading this, which is a much more common reaction for me these days.

  7. Erin

    Yay Swistle! This is so inspiring since I have had some of those same worries. You rock! Thank you for sharing this and as always, thank you ever so much for your blog. Your blog is the only one that makes me feel normal. We lead very different lives, but I can relate to so many of your feelings. Your openness and vulnerability is so appreciated.

  8. Holly

    Oh Swistle I relate to this so much! We do the March for Life every few years (and yes I know we have different stands on this and I still love you so I hope my comment is okay) and I always have the exact same worries. What if a crazy person shoots us? What if I lose my child? Is it even responsible to bring my children? How in the world do I work this metro thing, along with 500,000 other people!?! Ha. Anyway, we survived our weekend march and you did too! And even though we differ on the topic I mentioned, I stand with you on this one. Proud of you for getting out there and marching even when you were so nervous to do so :)

    1. Lauren

      I just have to say, this is the most respectful and supportive comment that I have ever read from someone who disagrees with someone else on an issue, and reading it actually brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

      1. Elsk

        Agree! Holly, I think your comment was brave and loving. It was a model for how to acknowledge differences while still expressing love and support, and I wish more friendships and relationships in America were like that.

  9. Natalie

    This is so great. Thank you. And a soft sweet dog in BOTH directions? That is a truly fortunate addition.

  10. Maria

    I think this is the second time I’ve ever commented here, even though I am a regular reader. I just wanted to thank you, so very much, for this. I haven’t managed to get myself to a march/protest yet, but it is my assumption that there will be many (*sigh*), and this gives me hope that I will survive, though my anxieties are telling me otherwise.

  11. Jenny Grace

    I too talked myself out of the women’s march, and I have regrets.
    I have actually never been to a protest, as I’m not the protesting TYPE, really, but these are protesting TIMES.
    We have so little power, we must do SOMETHING.
    Because right now it feels like we are all sitting around watching the next Hitler rise to power, and no one in a position to stop it is lifting a finger to do so. I want to have lifted a finger, even if I don’t really have power.

    1. LeighTX

      I feel like this a bit, too. I want to stop this! But I’m not an elected official or anyone with any power! But then I realized: if I affect just one person at a time, and THEY affect one person, and so on, we can eventually make an actual difference. My focus is on the youth ministry at our church, setting an example for the students of service to our community (particularly to the mosque next door) and talking with them about current events and how they relate to our faith.

      Also, I have kind of made it a mission to kindly and gently point out fake news on Facebook. That sounds really ridiculous when I write it out, but it seems like a large number of people get their news from FB and if someone is going to link to a fake article or spout incorrect facts, I’m going to (nicely) point them to the truth. I won’t get drawn into arguments, but I refuse to be a person who keeps her mouth shut while others talk about how lovely the emperor’s non-existent clothes are.

    2. vanessa

      we have power! marching is fantastic and we have power there but also? Google Indivisible and join your local group and they will tell you what to do. Or look at Swing Left or Flippable or Wall-of-Us. or donate to the ACLU. We DO have power. We DO. It is still–at least for now–we, the people. We can call, we can write, we can march, we can give, we can lift our voices up, and although there will be terrible, unacceptable losses–although for most of us this is the first time that we have had to be part of a Struggle–in the end, we will win. Love will win.

      Thank you for showing up, Swistle.

  12. Anne

    Thank you for writing about this. I have never participated in a protest or march, but now is the time. Could you talk more about the “rules” of what to do with your phone during the protest? I had never heard anything about that before.

      1. thefluter

        My husband is definitely more into cyber security than most, and he was ok with bringing his (password-locked) phone turned off.

  13. Rachel

    Um, I cried just reading, “THIS IS WHAT AMERICA LOOKS LIKE”

    I love you. Thanks for standing up.

  14. Kyla

    Yay Swistle! I haven’t been to a protest in over 10 years and here, I’ve been to 3 in 10 days. There was a definite moment on Sunday night when I was like “Can I just watch some Netflix and get ready for the week please Government?” But we go.
    I am so proud of you. But I really, really wish it wasn’t necessary.

  15. JanetS

    Good for you, Swistle! (I wanted to put that in all caps, but I think nerves are too fragile for even happy shouting these days, but please picture it in all caps.)

    I attended the Womens’ March and, thankfully, my husband dropped me and my friends off at the start two hours early, so we didn’t have to worry about whether buses would be running on time, whether routes would be affected by the march route, etc. Otherwise, my list of anxieties would have been as long as yours.

    One safety tip that our march organizers repeated several times when we were all milling around at the start was to leave a couple of feet of space between each other, to avoid crowding each other at all times. So when we all started walking, we kept that distance between us and it never felt unsafe. But, our little group stayed on the outside edge of the crowd most of the time, where it’s easier to maneuver.

    The main reason to bring a sign (and it’s a good idea to write on both sides) is so your group can easily stay together.

    The chant at the Womens March was similar: This is what democracy looks like.

  16. Katie S

    I think this is the most beautiful thing I’ve read in many days. I, too, am uncondescendingly proud of you, and inspired to overcome some of my own anxieties and get to the next protest that calls to me. Thank you. Very much.

  17. Faye

    Thanks for your action, Swistle. Our country needs it. The women’s march was my first ever protest, and I almost talked myself out of it, but I went! So it was easier to then protest the immigrant ban as well. And I brought my toddler to both and it was completely fine. But I would like a weekend off to eat junk food and watch football and think about things that don’t really matter. We’ll see.

  18. Jenny

    Awesome, I was HOPING you’d blog about your experience! And I’m glad it was good for you and your sons, and appreciative of your commenters as well. Yaaaaay! *flailing arms like Kermit*

  19. P-Mum

    I have never attended a “protest” but I have participated in rallies and informational pickets for our union where I teach. My mother, a union activist from way back, is always very interested in these activities and constantly reminds me to be cautious with signs on sticks – if things were to ever turn nasty, sticks can be used as weapons, and police may then accuse a sign holder of violence with said weapon. She always advised hanging the signs around one’s neck, or wearing them over the shoulders sandwichboard-style. Just a thought, for what its worth.

    I, too, am very proud of your participation, and efforts to do something outside your comfort zone. I have had the same thoughts since the Women’s March, that I should have participated with my two daughters. I feel I need to set an example for them about speaking up. We teach our students to be Upstanders, not Bystanders, when they witness a bully. This would seem to be what we are facing here, don’t you think? Maybe getting a group of friends to go together next time would be a good way to ease into this. Something to consider.

  20. Maggie

    My job prohibits me from protesting and for 19 of the 20 years I’ve held this job, that’s been just fine since I’m not great with large crowds and similar. This year, however, I’ve been filled with regret and sadness that I can’t join in and bring my kids. I watched a live stream of the women’s march and got a lump in my throat at the Show Me What Democracy Looks Like! This Is What Democracy Looks Like! chant. I’m so proud of you and of everyone who can and does march and makes our voices heard!

  21. sooboo

    So glad you went and took your sons! It’s great they are getting acquainted with their rights and responsibilities as citizens at a young age. I have noticed at the protests I’ve been to everyone is friendly, unhurried and helpful because we are all choosing to be there on our leisure time. So many people are totally new to all of this, including the public transportation part and it’s so great that so many people are willing to leave their comfort zones to take a stand. I think that makes people who know the drill more inclined to help those who don’t as well.

  22. Matti

    Thank you for marching, and thanks for putting it together in such a pragmatic and open way. Some of the marching posts or tips I’ve seen lately have made me feel perhaps MORE scared of attending a march. This was 100% the opposite. So important. Great job!

    I think my favorite parts contained words and phrases like “first,” and “next time.” I couldn’t get to a march, so thank you for doing this, and for raising such awesome kids who wanted to go with you. I never knew feeling patriotic could make me tear up so much.

  23. M

    I don’t think I’ve ever (?) commented here and I have been reading you loyally for YEARS. This made me cry. It made me feel less alone. It was my first march (and with my teenagers) too. This morning was my first time calling my elected officials. I am trying to be so brave when instead I keep waking up at night with my heart racing and full of worries. Thank you for making each one of my baby steps feel courageous, too. Linking arms and feeling stronger…

  24. ccr in MA

    I am so with you! I went to the Women’s March in Boston, and then to the Muslim ban rally, and I too was doing lots of map-reading and planning ahead of time. I went with friends, with relieved me of feeling like I had to know everything, but I did consider that if we got separated, I needed to have an idea of what to do. And I’m a planner! But how am I supposed to plan for I-don’t-know-what-might-happen?

    Someone put up an Amnesty International graphic on FB before the first one, and it kind of freaked me out, like wait, I’m supposed to worry about tear gas? In Boston?! But in the end it was not so scary, other than my total dislike of crowds, which got hairy a few times. I am not a protest person, but I too feel like now, I have to. But it’s exhausting and upsetting and sometimes I just want to get in bed and pull the blankets over my head.

  25. Ginny

    This Sunday was my first protest too! At least my first in a long time. We did that same chant except it was “This is what democracy looks like!” I didn’t like all the chants, but I liked that one and a couple that had a “we welcome all people” message at their core.

    I was glad it went so well and I will feel more comfortable going to others, although I will probably still skip a lot of them. I’m fine with being more a writing-letters kind of person than a showing-up-and-yelling kind of person.

  26. CK

    1) Thank you
    2) Me too
    3) Can you read “March” and report back? It is wonderful, and terrible, but wonderful. feel both emboldened and the opposite of emboldened. Discouraged? Unworthy? I want to talk about it with someone who is also being dragged into the political.

  27. StephLove

    You go, Swistle! I am so heartened that you went.

    I used to be the protesting type in college and through my mid-30s, and then we had kids and moved to the suburbs and we stopped. But I’ve been to five since the election, and I don’t foresee any end to it, especially as we live a short Metro ride from DC.

    I’ve seen people use flattened wrapping paper rolls as sign handles. They’re lightweight enough to be allowed in places where other kinds of handles aren’t.

  28. Sara

    Thank you for marching and sharing your story. I had many concerns and feel much better knowing your experience. Thank you for writing.

  29. Maureen

    I am so proud of you, confronting your anxieties and marching anyway. I really wanted to do the Woman’s March in my town, but I was super sick, it was snowing like crazy and cooler heads (my husband’s) prevailed. I grew up in the 60’s-I remember the protests, the calls to action. I feel this situation is even more dire than then, and that says a lot. I have such an unsettling feeling that this might be the end of the US as we have known it. We are such a young country, whose power peaked very early. I don’t give a crap about being a superpower, what I want is to live in a country I can be proud of. We’ve always had faults, but this is beyond anything I’ve experienced in my lifetime.

    I haven’t read the comments, but want to give a shout out to the ACLU. No matter what you can afford, please think about giving. We matter, our thoughts matter, let’s put our money where our mouth is!

  30. MaggieO

    Swistle, I love your blog and have been reading for years and years, but I don’t understand how you voice so well these concerns about protesting with your children and then “laugh out loud for the first time in days” about people purposely setting fire ants on PP protesters (on Twitter). I would have not have thought you would have seen it that way, and would not have expected you to applaud someone actively causing harm to those whose views are different from their own. Trump is an awful man, but I believe kindness and respect will go a lot farther towards countering his agenda than mockery and disdain. I know that’s not who you are! But I think we’re all in danger of just pushing the divide of this country further and further apart that way.

    1. Elsk

      This is a really good point and worth thinking more about. I am pro-choice, and I, like Swistle, felt similarly about the protests, and also laughed at the Twitter thread about the fire ants. A few observations to address the apparent disconnect:

      1) my laughter, at least, was mostly at the tone and fratboy writing style of the thread, and also the Guthrie reference, not the mere fact that protestors I disagree with were getting bitten by fire ants, and

      2) I can’t speak for Swistle, but some pro-choice people feel that protestors near the PP clinics are there to intimidate and harass women who are trying to access healthcare, hence the fireants prank had a more “I’m standing up for other citizens” feel to it than a prank on, say, the March for Life marchers.

      3) That said, I think we all really have to be careful about the justification or explanation I point at in (2) because, ultimately, you’re right. We shouldn’t laugh at that kind of juvenile prank. Now, more than ever, we have to be kind and open-minded towards those who disagree with us, and try to reach some solidarity as a country. Especially because we collectively have bigger fish to fry — we are in danger of Trump riding roughshod over the Constitution and dismantling the ability of the average citizen to do anything about it, and all citizens must be watchful for that kind of thing, e.g. signs that Trump would not abide by judicial or legislative checks on his power, and have their representatives on speed-dial.

    2. Swistle Post author

      Oh yes, yes, I see what you mean, and I absolutely wouldn’t support doing it! It was that part where he referred to Arlo Guthrie, and all the swearing about ants, and how they were getting bitten for months afterwards by the ants they accidentally infested their van with. But you’re right: I don’t mean to be supporting or endorsing the actual behavior in any way, and I absolutely would have been shocked and appalled if it had happened at, say, a March for Life protest, and I would not want my views on this to be misunderstood, and I definitely see how they would be, and I will un-retweet it. Thank you for mentioning it.

  31. Ruby

    I went to a Women’s March, and I’m so glad I did. I also spontaneously went to an airport protest that weekend, even though I could BARELY fit it into my schedule that day. I was out running an errand when I found out about it, and I texted my mom saying, “Hey, there’s going to be a protest at the airport, wanna go for like an hour?” I thought she’d say no and then I’d feel less bad about not going, but actually she was like, “HECK YES I AM SO IN,” and so we went. It was awesome, and I wish I could have stayed until the end–it was still getting bigger when we left.

    Also, I need to pass along my all-time favorite protesting tip: dry-erase poster board. It’s like the poster board you might get for a school project (the rigid kind, not the thin kind that can be rolled up), but one side has a dry-erase surface. You can re-use it and change the message for different protests! Or you can change it mid-protest if you see someone else’s witty sign that you want to copy! They’re SUPER light–the inside is made of Styrofoam–and they’re surprisingly waterproof, even after they’ve been written on. The only downside is that the ink will erase if it gets rubbed against, but I’ve found that this doesn’t happen as often as you’d think, even if there’s a dense crowd. (I just keep an extra marker in my bag in case I need to do an emergency touch-up.) It’s also rigid enough that you could probably tape a stick to the back. You can get a 2-pack for $10 at Target! Wow, that was a lot of words about poster board, but I promise it’s a game-changer.

  32. Jenn

    I am SO PROUD of you for going! For the women’s march, I brought 2 friends who had never been to a protest before and they had a similar positive experience. As they say, Life happens outside of your comfort zone :) #Resist

  33. Becky (omg_youguys)

    When I went to the Women’s March, we saw a few people who used mailing tubes instead of sticks – which I plan to keep in mind for future signage. In some situations, local authorities may prohibit you from bringing signs on sticks since those can be used as weapons – but a mailing tube is harmless and shouldn’t be subject to confiscation.

    Also, GO YOU!

  34. Emma

    Hey Swistle,

    Thank you for educating me :) I am one of those city types who views navigating the central areas/the subway (or the “underground” where I live) as a non event. It’s so routine to me that I barely give it a second thought.

    I am now going to be much more vigilant to anyone looking a little lost or anxious – you made me realise how intimidating it can be if you’re not used to it, and how many steps there are to actually getting from A to B sometimes!

    You and I have such different lives, but I love the glimpses of yours that you share with us. Thank you for these step-by-step posts!

    From London to you :)

    E x

  35. Jd

    Yay Swistle! I took the baby step of programming my senators/representative’s phone number in my phone. I’m not really a phone person but I can muster a few phone calls about such critical issues.

  36. docmaureen

    Good for you, Swistle! I’ll be at the scientist’s march in April. The whole family, maybe. None of this can stand.

  37. Alison

    So proud of you and your kids Swistle.

    I regret not going to the local Women’s March, but I have a newborn and it just didn’t seem posssible. This is helpful for future marches though. I was wondering, before you decided to bring your kids, were you planning on going alone? I’m just wondering how uncomfortable it might be going on my own.

    1. Swistle Post author

      I’d been thinking of going alone—but I have to admit, when they said they wanted to go along, I think that’s what pushed me from “thinking I’ll go, but then bailing” to “actually going.” But having them with me made me more self-conscious (it felt even weirder yelling protest chants when I knew they could hear me, and when I could hear them), and also more anxious (getting separated in the crowd, what if things go bad, etc.). So maybe now that I’ve gone once, I might prefer to go by myself next time.

  38. Alexicographer

    Thank you so much, Swistle, for marching, for taking your sons, and for writing about it. I’ll note that, per NYT and other real news sources (including CNN…), a visit by the President planned to a Harley Davidson factory in Milwaukee has been cancelled due to concerns about protests. I’m not entirely clear whether it was the administration or the company that canceled, but regardless — I offer this as evidence that these protests are having an effect. Also, the likelihood of protests becoming the kind of events where you wish you hadn’t brought your phone/been pictured/etc. is probably inversely correlated with the proportion of the marchers who are middle-aged, middle-class, straight, white, moms (or any subset of those attributes). So those of us who possess those attributes (me) have, in my opinion, a responsibility to be there precisely in part because of this — our presence makes the, er, unpleasantness, that the authorities and others have directed at some marchers in some places at some times less acceptable and less likely. Obviously that’s a complex reality that we could unpack in all kinds of other ways as well, but I’m here just going to focus on the positive effects of making it plain that even “typical Americans” (as seen in the eyes of … well …) are outraged.

    Indeed, I remember thinking when you (Swistle) posted about what post-apocalyptic skills we do/don’t possess and thinking, “Hell [in a good way], I’m a middle-aged white woman. Not only can I subsist (apparently) on zero calories a day, I’m invisible!” And it’s true — here’s someone who put her invisibility to use: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/woman-impersonated-lawmakers-wife-snuck-into-gop-retreat/2017/01/28/d026d450-e5cf-11e6-a419-eefe8eff0835_story.html?utm_term=.c7f9725fabe9 (OK — she went beyond that; she used false credentials. But all the same). So, yeah. I’m (emphatically not!!!) saying those of us who possess those characteristics should embrace the privilege they afford us with any sense of pride or accomplishment — obviously, none is warranted — but they DO afford privileges, and we should be aware of that, and use them to for the force of improving our society for every one of its members.

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