Mormon Women Marching
By Sara Hanks
A variation on the theme of marching, in response to a recent post at the Mormon Women Stand blog.
I did some marching recently, and I’ve heard many other women did, too.
It all began Monday morning and my MARCH went like this:
- I MARCHED into my son’s bedroom to get him up for the day. We worked together to get him dressed, then I got him a cup of juice and turned on his favorite Netflix show to keep him occupied while I fed my daughter, who’s still young enough to subsist mostly on breast milk.
- I MARCHED through the beginning hours of the day, making sure enough dishes were done, enough laundry was clean, enough groceries were in the pantry. I took care of various household tasks while my husband got ready for work, then kissed him goodbye and sent him on his way.
- I MARCHED around the house and gathered some improvised sign-making materials — cardboard, markers, tape. Having a healthy craft supply comes in handy at times like these. I settled on my preferred slogans about loving one another and doing good, then drew the customary bubble letters while my son made scribbled signs of his own and my daughter chewed on her hand.
- I MARCHED to my phone and checked the Weather app over and over again, hoping the snow would hold off.
- I MARCHED up and down the hallway in increasingly heavy layers of clothing for me and the kids — mittens, snow pants, boots, hats, coats, doubled-up wool socks. We ventured into the snow, thick inches of it on the sidewalks and gentle flakes of it still falling. I said a silent thankful prayer that both my preschooler and my baby were in good moods and that the weather at that exact instant was more “winter scene” than “awful blizzard” as we walked to the Utah State Capitol.
- I MARCHED into the building. The noise and heat hit us like a wall. So many bodies, so many voices, yet somehow (tender mercy!) I found a group of my girlfriends almost immediately. We cheered, we chanted “Love Trumps Hate” and “Si, Se Puede,” we marveled at how a crowd this big had amassed at 3:00 on a Monday.
- Seeing my son getting increasingly overwhelmed by the noise, I MARCHED back outside. We walked casually around the building, eventually going to the front staircase, where even more people were gathered.
- I MARCHED for a few seconds next to an elderly woman who had parked a few blocks away on a steep hill and was catching her breath. We chatted about the impressive and inspiring scene before she headed inside.
- I MARCHED and tried to make mental notes of all the signs, the ones supporting immigrant rights, supporting Standing Rock, supporting Black Rights Matter, supporting homeless people, supporting trans people, supporting reproductive rights, supporting clean air, supporting disabled people, supporting sexual assault prevention, supporting love, supporting hope, supporting courage.
- I MARCHED back home, the snow still gently falling.
- I MARCHED into my kitchen to check on the sweet pork I’d left behind to cook in the crock pot, happy and reflective and, above all, grateful. Grateful for health, safety, democracy, friendship; for my kids, for my husband; for privileges I didn’t earn and must use for the benefit of those who have less.
Many Cameras (mostly of the iPhone variety), but No Problems.
Some news outlets covered the public march I attended, though I’d be surprised if I made any local broadcasts or newspaper articles. I didn’t wear a T-shirt with a slogan (my “Equality is Not a Feeling”/”Radical Self-Respect” shirt was in the hamper). I didn’t wear a pink hat, but I did carry a few signs. No celebrities were in attendance at my march, though I was glad to see my state senator showing his support. But regardless of who showed up, what they wore, what they said, we were together and I was there, willing to stand quietly and shout loudly for everything I believe and love about womanhood.
- That I’m a daughter of God.
- I have work to do and am entitled to spiritual guidance on what my work is and how to do it.
- That work includes wifehood and motherhood for me. I cherish this work and value the chance I have to build a family with the man I love and the kids we adore. I also know that this is not the only work for me to do or for any woman to do, and in fact, many women’s lives will not include this work; their work is different from mine, but it is not less important or less worthy of praise.
- God values my spiritual abilities. God values my efforts. God speaks to me. God expects me to do difficult things. God loves me when I mess up. God loves all of us. God is watching to see how I will treat “the least of these” — how I will listen to, work with, and honor those whom society pushes aside. I am accountable for that.
I’m One in a Million. Well … One in 3.5 Billion.
I MARCHED with many others, and I am so appreciative of that. Since I marched in Salt Lake City, it’s no surprise that many of the women I marched alongside were Mormons – Relief Society sisters, Young Women graduates, Visiting Teachers. But there were many from other backgrounds, other faiths, and it was inspiring to join together, all of us, motivated by our shared desires for justice, freedom, safety, and fair representation. And greater still, we were part of a larger network of marches, a network that stretched from Washington DC to Nairobi, from Serbia to Peru, from London to Antarctica (seriously! Look at these pictures!). Personally, I’m not content to stay within the confines of my own ward or my own church in trying to make the world a better place. I want the personal, neighborly acts of service, and I want the large-scale movements, too. I want sisterhood with my LDS sisters and my Muslim sisters and my atheist sisters and my Evangelical sisters and my not-religious-but-spiritual sisters. I guess I’m just greedy that way.
As Janet Mock said, “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.”
And in the words of America Ferrera, “If we — the millions of Americans who believe in common decency, in the greater good, in justice for all — if we fall into the trap by separating ourselves by our causes and our labels, then we will weaken our fight and we will lose. But if we commit to what aligns us, if we stand together steadfast and determined, then we stand a chance of saving the soul of our country.”
How, Why, and Do you March?
I am angry as I MARCH. It’s been hard for me to accept that, with anger being such an uncomfortable emotion, but it’s true: I’m angry. I’m also thoughtful. I’m also inspired, worried, determined, joyful, and many times, I’m tired. As I MARCH, I’m sometimes satisfied and sometimes not, sometimes thanked and sometimes not. But because of the strides I’m making, little by little and day by day, I have peace in my heart. Sometimes. It’s a complicated existence; I know many of my sisters understand that kind of complication. How fortunate I am to have sisters who understand.
When I MARCH, it isn’t a one-day event. It’s a daily routine, played out week after week, month after month. And now, at my age, I can say year after year. I am free to choose because the Lord gave me my agency, and I choose to work because I want to use that agency to show my love for all God’s children, all God’s creations. So I MARCH on.