The Women’s March: A Rare (and Wonderful!) Display of Unity Around the World

January 23, 2017 at 5:29 pm 2 comments

womensmarchparisphotobychristinenesrallah

My favorite sign from the Women’s March on Paris. (Photo by Christine Nesrallah. Used with permission.)

This is going to be a fairly short post, both because of the other projects waiting impatiently for me on my desk, AND because I know that there are many other posts out there, and that all the amazing statistics from the extraordinary, historic display of unity and harmony expressed around the world on Saturday will be covered elsewhere.

I just want to say how grateful I am to have been able to participate in the Women’s March in Paris on Saturday. I also want to say how grateful I am to the many French women, Frenchmen (and other men), and children who joined us in marching through the streets of Paris to express our solidarity with all those who have already felt slighted, threatened, or otherwise badly treated by the new president of the United States. Your support meant a lot to the American women who were marching in Paris, and it matters a lot also to our compatriots in the U.S. (I know this is true: many of them have already said so to me on Facebook.)

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Me and some of my friends at the Women’s March (My friends don’t really look very nasty, do they?)

I’d also like to say that in addition to the overwhelming feeling of solidarity, harmony, and good cheer that dominated the manif” in Paris the other day, there was also such a lot of creativity in the signs people were carrying. And though (smartphone-less as I stubbornly remain), I did not get pictures of any of them, I did note a few of them that I’d like to share with you verbally:

Thou Shalt Not Grab (I love this one, because it eloquently implies that there are many things one should not grab. I believe this is true, of people, of corporations, and of governments.)

A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance

Women of Paris, Nasty Since 1789

It takes guts to be gentle and kind 

And my favorite one of all (shown above) was Make America Kind Again.

I also want to share a few of the slogans we chanted as we marched:

“SO-SO-Solidarité! Avec les femmes du monde entier!”  and

“No hate! No fear! Everybody’s welcome here!”  and

“C’est la meme colère qui ressent, à Paris et à Washington…” 

and (last but certainly NOT least)

“LOVE TRUMPS HATE!”

Finally I would like to say that despite the hugely successful turnout on Saturday, I’ll bet the powers that be are not exactly running scared yet. My guess is they’re counting on most of us to drop the ball now.

We have to NOT DO THAT!!!! Because while we were marching (and before we were marching) they have already busy undermining our rights, making terrible decisions, and in general wreaking havoc in the world.

And they will continue to do so, and they will hope that we all go back to our busy lives and forget about what they are doing.

I know that it’s not easy to stay on task in this regard, for many very good reasons: but really, as Adam Gopnik wrote last week in the New Yorker, “the best way to be sure that 2017 is not 1934 is to act as though it were.” The full article is here. It’s really good: read it!

And so. We have to become, or become again, or remain, activists. We really have to.

There are many many ways to do that. I would urge everyone reading this post to find a way to figure out what they are for you. There is no doubt someone in your world who can help you get started (and more importantly), help you keep going.

Here’s one good source for help along the way.

In solidarity, I leave you with the text from one more sign I saw the other day. I believe this sign was addressed to those same Powers that Be that I was referring to above. It said:

“Respect Existence. Expect Resistance.” 

Let’s make sure they do both.

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She leads book groups at the American Library in Paris, writing workshops in Essoyes, a village in the Champagne region, and teaches “Paris: A Literary Adventure” each summer, in Paris, for Queens College, CUNY.

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Entry filed under: Neither Here nor There.... Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Marie Bryan  |  January 24, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks for the article! You all look great in your Pussy Hats (I made 11 of them!)! I find it curious that when I try to click on your link to go to the Women’s March site, I get an Error 504. Although I’m not usually paranoid, I have trouble believing this is a coincidence! I hope I’m wrong and will keep trying! Encore merci!

    Reply
    • 2. Marie Bryan  |  January 24, 2017 at 7:44 pm

      Phew! I was delighted to see that the website is working again, so my paranoia was misplaced!

      Reply

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