I knew we were better than that

By Mary Dudzik

I wrote a letter that was published in the Nov. 18, 2016 edition of the Islander, after an election that left so many of us devastated. I was left wondering if somehow we were living in an alternate reality where the rights women have fought so hard for were suddenly of no consequence and might even be taken away.

When my family and I traveled to London over New Year’s, I felt ashamed about the result of the election. When we saw old friends who live in the U.K., it was hard to hear how the election and the vitriolic rhetoric leading up to it had affected other nations as well. And it was hard to bear how our always imperfect but ultimately great democracy had failed not only us, but the entire planet.

I am not referring to either the Republican or the Democratic platforms, party politics or even the Electoral College. I am referring to the consistent past and ongoing denigration of women by the man elected president and others who are now part of his staff or part of the government.

I attended the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, joining two busloads of wonderful local women, men and children, along with many others who traveled by every mode of transportation to show the new president, the government, the nation and the world who we really are.

The number of people in D.C. was staggering. Every conceivable race, creed, gender, sexuality, age, etc. was represented. I have never seen such a diverse assembly of people. And as many people as there were, as much crowding as there was, every one remained cheerful, friendly, talkative, interested.

We talked about where we were from, what matters to us, why we were there, what needed to change, what needed to stay the same, what needed to improve. There was no anger, no arguments, no violence, no arrests, just a gathering of people, mostly women, peacefully regaining the dignity that has been lost from this country in the last two years.

Thankfully, it turns out that Nov. 4 was not the knockout blow some folks thought it was.

What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like. This is what it looks like at its best, in its pure form, when women are actively engaged and showing us all how it is done.

It was a great day. I think many of us feel much better knowing that there are so many other like-minded people all over the country, indeed, all over the globe. It felt so good to actually do something to assure that our lives and the lives of women everywhere are valued and can improve instead of simply enduring and wondering if we will go on living in the kind of world where its leader can refer to women by their genitalia, their menstrual cycles or by generic terms like “nasty.”

We do not refer to men in terms like that, or to children or even to animals.

And though this was a great event to be sure, we cannot become complacent and think our work is done. Call your senators and representatives, let them know you support things that support women, like equal pay for equal work, like access to contraception, like anything that protects and preserves the planet. Please remember that supporting these things does not just support women. It supports everyone. There is no one gender, class, country, religion or anything else that is more important than another. Every single human on this planet is of equal value and deserves the same human rights.

On Jan. 21, 2017, for one brief period of time, it felt like everyone understood that.

Mary Dudzik of Bar Harbor is the medical director of the Lisa Stewart Women’s Health Center.

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