By J.T. Parker
The air was biting as the marchers covered their ears with their pink knitted beanies, waving signs that may as well have read “I hate you straight, white man.” I kept my mouth shut as I tried to blend in, hoping the cold (and not my frustration) would be perceived as the reason a flush was creeping up my neck and into my cheeks. Rather than engage the woman standing next to me – the one with the sign reading “just wait until our periods sync up” – I played the role of the quiet observer; someone whose curiosity led them to see what the fuss was all about. Which oddly enough, is the truth.
Aside from the fact that my apartment is located only a few blocks from the scene of the Reno Women’s March, I made the walk because I genuinely was curious as to the type of protest march this would shape up to be. Would it be just like the organizers and marketing agencies had said? A peaceful, non-partisan event to bring attention to the grievances of a sizable portion of the nation?
Scanning the crowd as I stood under an arch of the Virginia Street bridge, I searched for some message I could relate to. Some reason to find common ground and say, “you know what, she’s right.” Perhaps some signs denouncing the Matt Lauers of the world; the men who like to use their powerful positions to coerce women into beds – or onto desktops – while promising professional advancement? Instead, what I saw was much more obscure:
“Girls just wanna have fun…damental rights.” Well…duh. Are you saying you and your daughters are lacking access to oxygen and water? That Patagonia jacket looks pretty expensive, so what is it that you’re needing?
“The future is nasty.” Hmm, well if you keep thinking like that then yes, it is. Oh, that’s right, you’re going off that line from Ashley Judd, the whole “I am a nasty woman” thing. Cool! Usually I have to pay for at least a drink before I find that out, thank you for telling me in advance.
“Who runs the world? Girls!” I knew it…
“Straight Cis white man trying to smash his own patriarchy.” Wait, there’s a dude out there? What are you doing man, trying to impress someone?
Then there were those who were present to make statements having nothing to do with women’s rights:
“Defending a racist makes you a racist.” Yes, it does. And marching in the street with a bunch of bitter old women makes you a…
“We’re still here.” And unfortunately, I am too.
I’m sure you can understand why I kept to myself during this fun-filled event. I’ve tried to engage this type of person before – honestly, and with less sarcasm…at least at first – and it didn’t turn out well. And I wasn’t outnumbered then like I was here, about 10,000 to one. I didn’t make my way toward this march with any expectations for discussion, but I did have some small amount of hope that I would be surprised. Unsurprisingly, I was not.
Now ladies (and sure, gentlemen) I am by no means against your right to assemble peacefully to make yourselves seen and heard. That’s how problems are addressed and change is made. And I’m not criticizing the women who have genuine grievances, because I know some of you do. But to the movement as a whole I have to ask: What is your point? You were given the opportunity to present an argument, with national media attention and you blew it. Instead, you used mob tactics to guilt the men around you into conceding your righteous efforts, for fear of being labeled a misogynist.
As long as you continue along this extremist path, progress will be stymied and instead of seeing the improvements we all want to see, you will just be treated as infants who can’t sit at the grown-up table and discuss things. But what do I know, I’m just an observer.
J.T. Parker is producer of the Dan Mason Show on News Talk 780 KOH, also known as Producer Jake.