Beyond the Symbolism of the Women's March

Beyond the Symbolism of the Women's March

I firmly believe that one person can make a big difference, the kind that alters lives and delivers outcomes that are radically different without that person’s influence. In my life I have been lucky to experience having a champion who backs me, believes in me, and holds the space for me to be the fullest version of myself. 

A few years ago, I met a female golf-pro who told me that she dumbs down her teaching methods for women. I was so stunned that I was temporarily rendered speechless. She unabashedly voiced the underlying assumption across the board that women are too stupid or untalented to play golf. This is only one example of the pervasive sexism I have encountered from pros, caddies, and fellow players. Consequently, I am always wary when I am paired to play with new people. 

I was not surprised that the first day with a new caddy recently was off to a rocky start. He mispronounced my name, and I committed the faux pas of guessing his age in the wrong direction. Hitting my driver off the first tee made things worse. I felt like I had just tried to chop wood, and the ball bounced a few measly paces ahead. I was deeply embarrassed, though I should not have been. Charlie never made me feel bad for missing a shot and always pointed out the good that could be found in any situation. As we gained some distance from that first hole, we steadily built a connection. Charlie regaled me with tales of super low scores and caddying for legendary PGA Tour golfers. He also gave me consistently solid strategic guidance on how to approach each hole. He would even sweet-talk to my clubs à la Chevy Chase before shots. Throughout the following days, we shared many laughs and good golf. We both came to believe in each other and created a space in which we could both shine. He was the expert caddy with a gift for reading greens, and I was the eager student with a dedication to improve. At the end of each round, I wondered what else could be achievable the next day. I felt like he opened a door to a path where anything is possible: long drives and scoring pars. I could see a version of me in which breaking 80 is not only feasible, but actually probable.

Over 3 million women across the globe took to the streets the day after the inauguration to stand up for the community that comprises half the planet. The turnout ranged from young to old, from cosmopolitan singletons to suburban moms, and from fathers with their children to entire nuclear families. This march was so inclusive that it broke down barriers of sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion, and even our stance on abortion. It was exhilarating and powerful. 

The energy was infectiously strong. One friend spoke movingly about feeling united with the strangers marching alongside, infusing her with a sense of power that she had never experienced before. She was transformed into a more courageous version of herself, and she was not alone. Since the march, women from all walks of life have resolved to become active agents of change. Collectively standing up for each other created a secure environment for a diversity of activism to take root. The march gave women what Charlie gave me: an opportunity to reveal the possibilities

If you believe that showing up for another person is the ultimate act of kindness, then it’s clear that the Women’s March is more than a symbol of solidarity. It was an invitation to vigorously determine our future, and an empowering affirmation that we are seen and heard. We have joined together in our commonality of purpose for a just world, ready to stand for each other side-by-side and hand-in-hand. Our work to identify and execute an effective strategy for progress begins now.

Mila Atmos is a columnist whose work has been featured by The Huffington Post, Quartz, and Medium.

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