Article

An impassioned poem by artist and activist Camille Gage, after her experience at the Women's March in Washington DC on January 21, 2017, where more than a million people gathered to march for women's rights.
February 10, 2017

At the Women's March in DC on January 21, 2017. All photos courtesy of the author

I said I’d write an article about my DC trip
about the Women’s March
but I don’t have TIME to write
Barely time to remember
Not a moment to luxuriate in I drove 18 hours to
stand with a million
feminists

I said I’d write about the Women’s March
and women’s history but
I’m choking on the song of suffragettes
My throat hoarse from shouting
screaming
cussing
My words a whisper
in a tornado of hate
Arms thrown trying to shield
Truth’s flame
Ain’t I A Woman?

I said I’d write about the Women’s March
from a historical perspective but
I can’t stop seeing Ruth Bader Ginsberg, her frailest of forms
fiercest of hearts
Notoriously inspiring
I imagine her fishnet fist pumping righteous
as we chant together "When there are nine! When there are nine!"

I said I’d write about the Women’s March
and the legacy of Sanger, Slepian, Tiller and Gunn, but
my fingers are shaking
too tight to type
My hands are aching
Permanent fists ready to pummel the
pussy grabbers and faith healers and Hillary haters
still chanting lock her up lock her up
Someday I’ll ram that smug down your throat

I said I’d write about the Women’s March
but I spent the day calling every senator
every committee member
Tying up the lines of you are not my constituent
In hopes of stifling the blond billionaire who’d
send my granddaughter to a charter school
A Christian School
A private Dollar Store of a goddamn school

I said I’d write about the Women’s March but
I gotta pry a few minutes loose to
Call the Department of Homeland Security
Protest Tillerman and Keystone and DAPL
Tweet @realDonaldTrump
Run to the airport
Demand a Macy’s boycott Amazon boycott Nordstrom boycott
Call Mar a Lago and ask to speak to the imposter walled up there with his pet ignorance

Her name was rubbed off our tongues
We’ve been robbed of our history (again)
Our first woman ever…..footnoted
with a vengeance
It took Putin
the FBI
Fake News
James Comey
Julian Assange
Russian hackers
WikiLeaks
Kris Kobach
Interstate CrossCheck
and who the fuck knows what else
to take that fighter down
and still she won but
my heart broke that night
My dreams a death in the family
Sometimes I think I’m going insane but
I know I’m not going alone

I said I’d write about the Women’s March
because "women’s rights are human rights, once and for all"
#addhername
And though I was (we were) rendered invisible (again) on November 8th
invisibility is a super power, right?
So I guess we showed them
Cause they couldn’t see a million of us coming and
Now we are
Here
To
Stay

***

Dedicated to Jen, Bella, Judith and Hillary

Camille J. Gage began her creative journey in her teens, writing music and touring with a variety of bands including the all-female alt-rock band Tetes Noires. She later segued into public art and mixed media performance, often with a topical edge, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Gage’s work explores connections within communities and contemporary social issues. As an artist and engaged citizen, Gage continues to be inspired by the intersection of art and political expression and believes that artists who choose this path have a role to play in shaping the public consciousness.

 

NOTES

Sojourner Truth’s famous speech, "Ain’t I A Woman," was delivered at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio, on May 29, 1851.

"When I'm sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court] and I say, 'When there are nine,' people are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that." —Ruth Bader Ginsberg. There have been 112 Supreme Court justices and only four women. In addition to Ginsberg: Sandra Day O’Connor, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Ginsberg is known for wearing fishnet gloves; a practice she began during chemotherapy for colon cancer in 1999 to prevent germs spread by handshaking at public events. Ginsberg has stated that she liked them so much she kept wearing them.

Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the United States and established organizations that evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She was jailed multiple times for her work.  Slepian, Tiller and Gunn were ob-gyn doctors who were murdered by anti-abortion extremists for providing abortions.

"women’s rights are human rights, once and for all" is taken from Hillary Clinton’s remarks at the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session Sept 5, 1995, Bejing, China.

#addhername became a trending hash tag in the days leading up to the Women’s March when march organizers used "women’s rights are human rights" as a unifying slogan but did not credit Clinton; nor did they include her on the list of notable women on the "Reasons We March" page.

 

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