By sheer coincidence I found myself on the Washington Mall on Saturday morning and came face to face with the tens of thousands of marchers protesting Trump’s inauguration.
As far as I could see, these were solemn and peaceful rallies. The women expressed heartfelt fear and opposition to the new president’s policies. Just 24 hours earlier, I had stood on the same mall grounds with tens of thousands expressing sheer joy and hope.
How sad that after eight years of Barack Obama, the unifier in chief, the nation is as culturally and politically divided as it has been since maybe the Civil War. Let's hope Trump can bring the nation together.
But standing near the Lincoln Memorial, I also couldn't help think pridefully: What a fabulous country.
Is the First Amendment a great thing or what?
Freedom of speech. Freedom of assembly. Freedom of religion. Americans of all stripes exercising their constitutional rights.
What a reason to celebrate — no matter how you feel about President Trump.
Here are some observations from the march.
First, while their behavior was nonviolent (there were no arrests), some of the signs and T-shirts these women wore were putrid and vulgar. "This bitch bites." "Pussy Power." "Nasty Women Make A Difference." “I Have a Vagina and I Vote." "Good Women Never Change History." (Tell that to Rosa Parks.) “Dykes Against Trump." And other such niceties.
I even saw young girls, high school age and younger, accompanied by their parents with these disgusting signs.
Do these women understand that the B word and the C word and the D word and the P word are terms men use in the locker room to disparage and objectify women? Do they want these terms to become part of polite company? Women were outraged — rightly so — when Trump used these disgraceful words. Now they retaliate against him by using the same language?
The marchers seemed to believe that resorting to vulgarity is a measure of women’s empowerment. They seemed to be saying: Look at me. I can cuss like a sailor. The chains are off. We are liberated, because we can be as profane as the men.
Call me a sexist, but I hold women to higher standards of conduct than men.
One major theme of the protesters was abortion rights. I saw many signs that read, "Abortion is health care." I couldn't help reflecting on that. Isn't the purpose of health care to preserve and prolong life, not to destroy it? Just asking.
I chatted with many of the marchers. They were mostly nice people in their 20s and 30s who are deeply concerned about our country. I kept asking, What do you want? What's the message here?
Clearly it was anti-Trump. I get it. Trump said some pretty offensive stuff about women.
The protesters demanded equal pay. Under Obama, most Americans' pay went down. How is that good for women? Is it a good thing if everyone's pay goes down equally? If Trump is a success, women will get higher pay. So will men.
What about women across the country who have lost their jobs or their health care or their property because of Obama policies? Do they count? Liberalism didn't do much for them.
The climate change brigades were also out in full force. Apparently, this is now a top women's issue.
I tried to console these marchers by telling them I felt the same sense of despair and dread when Barack Obama was elected eight and four years ago. But guess what — the country survived that. America can certainly survive Donald Trump. And if he is a success, many of these women's lives will be better than today.
I liked the comments by an elderly woman who told the Washington Post, "Women bear the children. They are deserving of our respect."
Amen to that.