Have you seen the Ancenstry.com commercials?
Inquisitive descendants turn to genealogy to increase their understanding of heritage and legacy. Through the website, they access information about their predecessors, such as military service, educational accomplishments, family photos, etc. that inspire them to embrace their full potential and encourage them to share their family story.
I longingly watched the happy actors and actresses in Ancestry.com commercials and decided to take it for a spin.
My genealogy experience – not so happy.
Turns out the legacy my family tree provides is one of abuse, oppression, violence:
- Not that this was a surprise; I remember how quickly our home would turn into an all-out war zone.
- I remember calling the cops on my dad at the young age of five because he was “gonna kill Mama”.
- I remember believing that domestic violence and rape were simply part of being a woman – and they were, at that time, in that family.
Determined to not end my life like a second chorus of Reba McIntyre’s Fancy song, or drown my sorrow and dysfunction with alcohol or pills– another family legacy – I got the hell out of dodge…aka: Mississippi.
I went to college, then to grad school, married a man that didn’t beat me, started a business, became a college professor, wrote several publications, and created a non-violent home for myself in a charming turn of the century home surrounded by my beloved horses and heritage breed livestock.
I did what women in my family said I couldn’t do – provide for myself, excel in academia, have a non-abusive relationship, hold my own with men in competitive industries, own and manage a successful business – and it felt amazing.
- I was a long way from my great-aunt that was raped by the community doctor at sixteen and had to hitchhike across the country until someone took her in outside of Denver.
- I was a long way from my mother who lived as though she believed spousal abuse was part of a man’s “god-given” martial rights and it was her job just to take it.
- I’ve come a long way from my cousin who was raped at fourteen by a family employee and driven thousands of miles to have an illegal abortion without adequate medical care.
- I was a long way from the little girl that watched in terror as my father would fall into a fit of rage I’ve yet to see rivaled, and rush to protect my three younger siblings.
I’d broken the ancestral cycle of unending abuse and oppression, and for that, I felt immense accomplishment.
Saturday – a day that will go down in history as the day women awoke, rose up and spoke – the epic Women’s March, the largest protest in American history. Boasting of between 3.6. to 4.6 million attendees across the United States (as I’m writing this post, the tally is still not in), the march rocked the world as we know it.
Gender inequality, violence against women, the pay gap, normalization of a rape culture, and human rights (including reproductive) were just a few of the centuries-long areas of inequality our culture has embraced as “acceptable” that characterized the Saturday’s Women’s March mission.
The attendance, impact, and influence the Women’s March proved to be much greater than many, including me, anticipated. It wasn’t just Gloria Steinem groupies (I’m a proud card carrier) – it was women and men from all walks of life, from all over the world, demanding fundamental rights for all.
The Women’s March on Washington presented a wide variety of inspirational speakers.
Here’s ten of my favorite quotes from the day:
- “We are mothers. We are caregivers. We are artists. We are activists. We are entrepreneurs, doctors, leaders of industry and technology. Our potential is unlimited. We rise. We rise!” – Alicia Keys
- “I’m not nasty, like the combo of Trump and Pence being served up to me in my voting booth. I’m nasty like the battles my grandmothers fought to get me into that voting booth.” – Ashley Judd
- “So this is what we gotta do: don’t get frustrated, get involved. Don’t complain, organize. You know, so many people binge-watch television for hours and hours, they’re in their telephones. They’re on the computer or Facebook for hours. They’ll stand up for their sports team, they know every rule of the NBA and the NFL, but they don’t know how local government works. We have to start spending time and being responsible for all of humanity, and standing up for equal rights.”- Maryum Ali
- “Good did not win this election. But good will win in the end. … And to those who insist that this march will never add up to anything: f**k you. F**k you.” – Madonna
- “Say yes to be willing to put yourself on the line. It is that simple. The next thing on your to-do list: You have to run for office. You, yes, you. I can see your faces, ‘No, no, Mike, not me.’ This is not the time for shy people. Shy people, you have two hours to get over it.” – Michael Moore
- “A movement is much more than a march. A movement is that different space between our reality and our vision. Our liberation depends on all of us.” – Janet Mock
- “It’s been a heartrending time to be both a woman and an immigrant in this country. Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack, and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday. But the president is not America. His cabinet is not America. Congress is not America. We are America. And we are here to stay.” – America Ferrera
- “We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages.” – Angela Davis
- “Once the heaviness [of the election] began to subside, an opportunity has presented itself to make real long-term change, not just for future Americans, but in the way we view our responsibility to get involved with and stay active in our communities. Let this weight not drag you down, but help to get your heels stuck in.” – Scarlett Johansson
- “We are linked, we are not ranked, and this is a day that will change us forever because we are together, each of us individually and collectively will never be the same again. When we elect a possible president, we too often go home. We’ve elected an impossible president. We’re never going home. We’re staying together, and we’re taking over.” – Gloria Steinem
As I listened to the empowering words of the D.C.’s speaker line-up, I began to realize something…I – and we – can dream bigger.
Sure, escaping an abusive fundamentalist cult (finally recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center), breaking generational cycles of abuse and violence, and going toe to toe with chauvinistic patriarchy throughout my career as a business professional were “big” accomplishments given where I started from, but I can do more, go farther, and exceed culturally accepted gender restrictions.
Women across the world can do more; we can dream bigger. A life characterized by gender inequality and restricted by archaic gender roles doesn’t have to be our future. We have the power to change it, make it better, and ensure fundamental rights are given to everyone.
The Women’s March was just the beginning.
It’s my hope that gender-based pay gap, rape culture, and restricted reproductive rights will seem as far out there and barbaric to our children and grandchildren, as segregation in public schools, women not having the right to vote, and child labor seems to our current culture.
It’s a new era of equality, and women are dreaming bigger than ever before.
Here’s to surpassing oppression and ushering in an age of love!
It’s a great day to be a woman.