Arienne, a woman in her twenties at the start of her career, writes about why she marched on Saturday, January 21, 2017.
Being new to the YW and a career and the area, I’ve had a few realizations about myself recently. The most important one, I believe, is that the past six years I’ve been the type of person to keep my voice down. Sure, I have opinions and things I’m passionate about, but once I got into post-secondary school, I toned those passions down. I justified it as taking time to learn, view perspectives, and really hear others. But that’s not really the reason. A lot of it has to do with people, especially men, suggesting that I quiet down.
During high school, I was extremely vocal. There was one club I felt really passionate about and I talked about it any time I could: Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving. Everyone knew how I felt about impaired driving and I didn’t just voice my opinion but I made an effort to stop it; I put the work in. I developed and implemented awareness campaigns and events to demonstrate the effects as well as provide alternatives to driving while impaired. I used my voice. But after graduating high school, I lost that. I realize now that I let my voice go because others made me feel as though I shouldn’t use it. I no longer put my opinions or thoughts into things unless I truly felt it was necessary or welcome, and that was a rare occurrence. I was that quiet girl with her brain screaming.
That has gotten me to where I am now. I think we all lose our voice at some point. But now my voice is back and this is because of all the strong women in my life who show me daily how important it is that if you have an opinion that is of value, you should express it.
This is why I marched on January 21st for the Women’s March on Washington – Niagara Edition. You see, I’m sick of being told to be quiet, sit down, smile, or that my ideas are stupid. I’m done with that. It’s time for me to bring back my voice and back it up with action. I wore a pussyhat and marched in solidarity with the women around the nation. Not only did I march in solidarity for women’s equality. I marched for every woman who doesn’t feel like she is able to have a voice right now. We all deserve equality and the chance to say what we think. To feel as though our thoughts and opinions are valued and respected.
What did I take away from the march? So much. You see, I didn’t speak at the march. Why, you ask considering my whole reason for going was to bring back my voice? Because, for once, I didn’t feel like I needed to speak. I genuinely enjoyed listening and truly learning the struggles the women in our community have been facing.
Honestly, I think the people who spoke needed to. These incredible women took the time to speak inspiring, empowering, and motivating words and we needed to hear them. I’m so grateful they did because not only did they teach me more about what is going on in the Niagara region and how some people treat them, but they also taught me some ways to handle situations. They taught me that it’s okay to be scared to speak up sometimes but it’s also genuinely necessary. They taught me that there is so much more we can do to show others how to properly treat every human being. They taught me that this fight is just beginning and we are going to put up a good fight. The amount of women (and men) who showed up spoke volumes about how important human rights for everyone are within the region and, ultimately, the world.
The march brought unity that I’ve never seen before from people of all backgrounds. It brought us all together. It lit a fire for everyone who attended to really start thinking of ways to make a difference because we have the numbers and support to do so.
I’m so excited for what’s going to happen next because I’m already on board.
It’s our time now to start making a difference.