When I heard about the Women's March happening on January 21, I instantly knew I would participate. So when Saturday made its appearance in Toronto -- complete with an ashy grey sky overhead -- I was there.
Many of my friends asked me why I was going -- and what, exactly, we were protesting for. There seemed to be a lot of confusion around this Women's March, so I wanted to sit down and take a moment to clarify why we marched.
Shortly after arriving to the march here in Toronto, I went ahead and uploaded a picture of the gathering to my personal Instagram. With close to 60,000 followers, there are often a number of interesting comments -- often "ooh-ing" and "ahh-ing" remarks from men whenever I post a photo of myself with my makeup on and nails done (thank you filters!).
This time, however, the comments were a little different. Actually, some of them were very different from what I usually get. Consider this gem -- one of the first comments to rear its ugly head: "you belong in the kitchen."
Ah, yes -- there it was. A lustrous, shining example of why precisely I was at this march. So to this individual bursting at the seams, and the ones that followed, I say: "Thank you. You've made it easy for me to explain to my friends why I went to the Women's March."
I marched because it is 2017 (2017, people!) and there are people in the world who still believe a woman's place is in the kitchen. Doubt it? Then you'll wince when you hear this. A recent peer-reviewed study compared data from 195 college students in 1983 to data from 191 adults in 2014 -- and found that gender stereotypes (like the sordid kitchen stereotype) are just as strongly rooted today as they were over 30 years ago.
Apparently, some people think that we should just be quiet, dainty females and accept things the way they are.
I marched because although I make a mean banana bread, I also provide additional income to over 4000 individuals I staff across North America and full-time employment to over 20 (take that, patriarchy!).
I marched because male-dominated political parties are still trying to exert control and power over women's bodies through stringent abortion laws.
Another one of these eloquent commenters wrote: "women should be grateful that they have any rights and quit complaining."
I marched -- and over a million other people marched -- because there are still plenty of individuals who think that because other women in the world have virtually no rights, those of us who do have some rights should be submissive to a prejudiced patriarchal system that has always derived its power by silencing the voices of women.
Apparently, some people think that we should just be quiet, dainty females and accept things the way they are. That's literally a recipe for social regression, but I guess some people don't get it. I guess because some women elsewhere are more oppressed, that I should just go back to the kitchen where "I belong" -- even though my companies raise tens of thousands of dollars for multiple charities every year.
Let me dive one more time into my treasure trove of sexist Instagram comments. Here's this cute little comment: "Trump made one comment and then apologized, get over it."
I marched because rape culture is still very much a thing, with women blamed and shamed for the sexual violence forced onto them by men (Stanford rape case, anyone?).
I marched because there are people who actually believe that our bodies are not our own -- and should be under the subjugation of state power. They think they -- not us -- should dictate how we think and how we live. That we shouldn't speak out about how we feel. That we shouldn't be offended. That sexual assault victims should be silent and silenced.
This was not meant to be a political march, but a Girl Power march.
They believe that sexual predators -- who think it's OK to grab women's vaginas -- should be made president.
I marched because a man who has openly called women "dogs", "ugly", "fat," and "bimbos" is now not only the most powerful man in the United States, but also the most significant example of "leadership" for the next generation. I wanted to show the generation that comes after me that this is not something I support. That this is not OK, and we're not afraid to let everyone know.
I marched to show minorities and all women around the world that you can do anything, the apparently iron grip of patriarchal social norms and political rules notwithstanding. From my beginnings with only $80 in my pocket, to owning several multi-million dollar corporations (run by an office filled with females I might add), I have learned that you can be and do anything.
This was not meant to be a political march, but a Girl Power march. An opening salvo that reverberated around the world with this strident message:
To any woman who has withstood the daily barrage of catcalling, sexual harassment, unjust pay, the stereotyping of who and what we should be, the pressure to submit our bodies to the tyranny of sexist political legislation, and just the plain rude comments from keyboard warriors. To the women who have no say whatsoever in countries like Saudi Arabia. To all of you: don't give up. We are making progress everyday, and we aren't stopping. We won't go backwards. There is hope. There is power. And there are a lot of us. Our voices will be heard.
I'm used to ridicule. We're used to ridicule. It's what shapes me and drives me. So to the women of colour, to the immigrant women, to the little girls and boys watching this world around you unfold in all its terrible and beautiful vicissitudes -- you can make it in the kitchen, and in the office. Be who, what, and where you want to be, and don't let anyone tell you "No, you can't." And to my Instagram commenter: your kitchen suggestion does sound tempting, but I don't think I'll quit my day job.
I guess I'm just that nasty.
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