The Million Woman March
Yesterday morning I got up at 5:30AM to take the 90 minute drive to California’s (aka: Dumbfuckistan’s) capitol city of Sacramento and join my dad, and two cousins Alice and Virginia, and their daughters in The Million Woman March.
It was just one of the over-600 sister-marches to the main march in Washington DC, happening around America and the world to protest the incoming president, and he and his cabinet’s disturbing 1930’s-era ideology regarding women’s rights, women’s livelihood, women’s protection from rape and domestic abuse, and a womens’ choice to have birth control and safe, legal abortions.
Sister marches happened in Melbourne, London, Belgium, hell the even had a small march in Antartica!
Spurred on by both Alice and Virginia, whom I credit with organizing our trip, my dad and I met up at a Target nearby to caravan to the march which started at a park.
I brought my camera along primarily to document in both photographs and video this journey they were embarking on. It was my first-ever march against, well, anything, so I felt it would absurd to document something about me. But both my dad and cousins have been participating marches since the 70’s.
My dad, who is a military veteran that served 3 years in the army between Korea and Vietnam, got out of the army, took a long, hard look at what was going on, and, appalled by what he saw, decided to grow his hair, start smoking pot, and march against the Vietnam war. He marched for civil rights, he marched for women’s rights in the 80’s.
He just turned 80 years old last week, and told me there was no way he was missing this march.
My cousin’s all growing up in some of the roughest parts of 70’s-era Oakland, would join him on these sometimes-violent marches, and have continued to do so well into their 50’s, and now bring their daughters along. Their youngest brother (my cousin) Ronnie is gay and they’ve participated in gay rights marches as well. It made me wonder if my other gay cousins were marching as well? Cause really, doesn’t everyone have a gay cousin or three?
5 years ago my cousin Virginia was stuck down with Guillian Barré Syndrome, and rare and horrible syndrome whereby within a 48 hour period, she went from being completely healthy, to having flu like symptoms, to not being able to get out of bed, to being completely paralyzed from the neck down.
That paralyzation lasted for well over a year. And while she has recovered enough to walk and live a somewhat normal life, she still can’t really walk only 1,000 feet or so before needing a break.
Not that she’d ever let that stop her.
She has to be one of the most positive people I’ve ever known, a teacher of disabled students who in a strange, ironic twist has become disabled herself… man, watching her load out her wheelchair to participate in a mile long march, was no small bit of inspiration. I sat there thinking what a wuss I was was for himmin’ and hawin’ the night before about getting up early, asking myself “should I just got to the march in Oakland that’s way closer?”.
Here was a woman who couldn’t walk a thousand feet, who drove an hour from Stockton, determined to stand up (by sitting down) for what she believed.
I wouldn’t say it was a party atmosphere, but the vibe was upbeat and peaceful, with a cross-section of people from most walks of life. 3 generations of women in the form of grandma’s, mothers, and daughters was the largest group, fathers and daughters, fathers and sons. Men were the 2nd largest group standing in solidarity with wives, and sisters, and girlfriends. Veterans For Peace, Millennials For Peace, a huge swath of the Sacto/Nor-Cal LGBT community there, and numerous “movements” empowering women with names like “Nasty Women” and “Pussy Power”. Some carried subtle signs like “this *kitty symbol* bites back” while other women just didn’t give a fuck, with “this pussy bites back”, and “don’t tread on my pussy”.
I thought it was it was symbolic that much like black people before them, they had taken a word used to denigrate them, and turned it around to make it their rallying cry.
We gathered at the park where close to 5,000 had already arrived, and over the next hour the numbers continued to multiply.
It seemed like every man there was carrying a sign as well, “I’m with her” (with 20 arrows pointing to the women around them), “Dissent is not un-American”, “Another straight man for gay rights”, and I even saw a nod to Sepultura with a “Refuse Resist” sign.
With that said though, at least in Sacramento, there was a disappointing lack of 20 to 40 year old metal-heads of any sort. Other than that one sign I didn’t see a single metal t-shirt or metal back-patch. Maybe they were incognito, maybe they felt hopeless/ depressed and didn’t feel like marching would make a difference, or maybe (judging by the enormous amount of hate I received from previous journals/songs), most rock and metal fan’s support Trump and think this is bullshit.
But it seemed like every other conceivable walk of life was in attendance, 20-something-millennial’s, business people, hippies, straight women, gay women, gay men, long-haired skater dudes, hip hop fans, and an incredible array of older folks in the 60 to 80 year old range. Black, White, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern.
We marched alongside the thousands of people lining the streets, while a drum core played nearby. The women’s groups all yelled various chants like “What do we want? Women’s rights! When do we want it? NOW!”. My dad, cousins and I pushed Virginia’s wheelchair through the raucous crowd and we eventually arrived at the capitol building. Local Police, (used to many Free Speech events), were supportive to all in the march, and deserve a special shout out for directing everything in organized, timely, even welcoming manner.
Funneling into the main square in front of the capitol building, it was much more obvious how huge the march actually was. At the end of it, a large LED screen showed video of the crowd, with a PA that was blasting out hip hip, dance music and dubstep, (rock music was noticeably absent, though frankly unsurprising since it no longer dominates popular culture like it once did).
Speaking to the crowd, the mayor pointed out that there were 20,000 people, and after taking far too long thanking the various representatives for showing up (too which the crowd began to grumble) the mayor surprised everyone and gave a scathing indictment of our president over his “grab ‘em by the pussy” comments. At least in the limited capacity I’ve paid to politicians I’ve never heard an elected official speak so harshly. The audience “boo-ed” as expected, and there were times when it all felt like he was “playing-to-the-crowd” a bit, but as other less exciting, less well-spoken and downright boring speakers, came up, you kinda saw what it takes to get someone to put their phones down and have 20,000 folks pay attention.
After a couple hours of good to bad speeches a lady came up, and began speaking. She represented the Women’s Janitor of California and as she slowly began talking about the uncomfortable subject matter in her speech, it became very clear she was a powerful speaker.
She spoke about women and rape.
In unflinching terms she detailed the alarming amount of rapes that happens in the late-night, janitorial business which is primarily made up of immigrant women most of whom don’t speak english. She spoke in simple, graphic detail to the 1000’s of people there in attendance abut these victims, of her own horrifying rape in a bathroom at the hands of a superintendent, who upon seeing her arrive said, “finally, they sent a nice piece of ass to clean up around here”.
As her voice raised, often trembling with emotion, you could hear a pin drop as the marchers went silent. She spoke of how she was able to report her rape to the police as she spoke some english, but that often times despite interpreters at stations, most of the women she represents, just get too scared and don’t file charges.
She spoke of her frustration with getting the Union on board to help, telling her “it wasn’t a union issue, it was a workplace issue”. She fought the workplace, who told her “it was a union issue, not a workplace issue”. And she spoke of how eventually the union decided to back her, and make it a top priority to fight for the women they represent.
For a good 15 minutes I stood there in rapt attention. Many in the audience were crying listening to this brave and powerful woman, I myself could barely hold tears back. Soon emotions flooded me of my own experiences being molested. As anyone who has followed the band, I spoke/sang semi-openly about what happened me when I was 5 years old, as with the song “Five” off of 1999’s The Burning Red.
Hearing her opened a wound deep inside me, and despite nearly 20 years of therapy that I’ve gone through (which has helped me greatly) the act of listening to this woman’s courage in front of some many hit me like a punch to the gut.
It made me think about me own complicated relationship with women.
Having joined a band when I was 17, mainly for the love of music, but like the late-great Lemmy always said, “you join a band to get laid, and anyone who tells you different is a liar”.
And it’s true.
I couldn’t really get laid in much of any capacity til I was in a band. I had no game, no pick lines, I was too introverted and clumsy to approach girls. Hell, every girl I’ve ever been with has approached me! But after being in a band for a while I became a bit of a Lothario. I was single, or single-ish, but I always felt lucky when girls approached me. Fuck, I was just stoked to have girls talking to me, let alone wanting to have sex with me!
And again, more of Lemmy’s words stuck with me all these years later. The Motorhead frontman and legendary ladies-man always said, “you never kiss-n-tell, you respect the women your with, it’s a privilege to be with them, even if it’s just for one night, it’s a privilege”.
And he was right.
I remembered being a 20-year old punk trying to brag/exaggerate to my cousin’s how many girls I’d been with, at a get together at my Grandma’s house. To my shock, my Grandma overheard me, and just FLIPPED OUT on me! “You think your sooooo cool, don’t you Meho? Sleeping with all these women? Your grandfather over there used to cheat on me all the time, treat them like shit, treat me like shit, is that the kind of man you’re going to be!!??”
My grandfather sat there speechless.
I stood there speechless.
Those words cut like a knife.
And while I was single for several years after that, I always remembered what she said.
You treat women with respect. “No” means “no”. And really, who wants to have sex with someone who isn’t into it anyway? It takes all the enjoyment out of it. For me, it’s a turn off.
It brought up my previous relationships, when I was a dysfunctional 20-somthing year old, addicted to speed. My girlfriends at the time getting pregnant, we were both completely unfit to have kids or be parents, both strung-out on crank and pills as we were. I’m so glad we had the option to have a safe and legal abortion. Shit, we had 4 abortions.
picture All this was going through my head listening to this woman speak in front of thousands of people.
I thought of my wife, and her horrible experiences growing up, alcoholic/heroin junkie father, chaotic homelife) but I also it reminded me of how lucky I am to have her in my life.
Genevra and I just celebrated 25 years together. Not married, but together.
I’d be lying if I said it was all roses, and I have no idea how it’s lasted this long. Most of it has been harder then anyone could imagine, there’s been more arguing then good times, and the days of wild sex on the hood of a car in the street at 2 AM while drunk are loooooong gone. It’s not uncommon to go for 2 months without it if were not getting along. Sometimes the only thing holding us together is the kids. Sometimes all that holds to together are our routines and the fact that we’re good team. Sometimes were not even friends. Love can turn to “like” real quick after all that time.
But when it’s good, it’s so good.
She is the strongest person I know. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without her in my life. I wouldn’t have the respect I have for women today without her.
As I listened to this amazing woman finish up her incredibly emotional speech, I sat there with my mouth quivering holding back tears. A young lady walked by holding a sign that said, “rape survivor… and were not going back to the good ol’ days”.
That was it.
My manager and Trump supporter asked me why I was going to march, “not sure what protesting is gonna do, what are you hoping to accomplish”. At the time I didn’t really even have an answer. At the beginning of the march, my cousin asked me the same thing, “why are you here Robert?”.
I didn’t really know…
And still don’t know if I know.
But something about that moment, was what I didn’t know I needed.
Maybe it’s because I’ve felt completely numb and disengaged to whats going on lately. I haven’t been able to write a journal for months, and I’ve been on a 3 month social media detox. Like most folks, I found myself too addicted that little hit of dopamine we get every time seeing the number of likes or comments. Putting up yet another selfie to the world? WHY? Every time I went to post something I just thought, “what the fuck for!?” Who fucking cares. This is not important.
I’ve gotten all your emails and comments about writing more Journals, thanks. Lots of “I need your journals, they help me make sense of the world,” and while I appreciate that… I can’t even make sense of the world right now, let alone help YOU make sense of it. None of what’s going on makes sense, none of it is normal, in my 49 years on earth I’ve never seen anything like it.
What’s going on is insanity, and like the advice a good buddy gave me during the whole Anselmo/nazi/death threats fiasco, “You just gotta plant your truth and stand by it. Go ahead, let ‘em call you a hypocrite, let ‘em try and find some 20 year old quote or a picture to "catch you”… so they can say “gotcha!” and “prove” that your an asshole.”
And he was right.
You live long enough, and you’ll be an asshole.
I’ve been one plenty of times. Had to apologize for it plenty of times.
Just be grateful you haven’t lived your life in the public eye for the last 30 years, had most of your privacy stripped away for the last 30 years… because we ALL act like an asshole.
Why was I there yesterday?
To feel again.
Yesterday made me engage again, forced me out of my self-imposed exile. I’m re-engaging to The General Journals, reengaging to social media, but not in the same way. I’ll do Journals, I’ll post on Instagram/Twitter occasionally, but I need boundaries, and I need it mean something.
The march felt good to know that there were a lot of people that felt the same way. To know that America isn’t full of “American carnage”, but American belief. That there are A LOT of pissed off people out there who disagree with (amongst many other things) those who use and abuse their fame to “grab ‘em by the pussy”.
And while I can’t speak for the dead, I’m pretty damn sure Lemmy would have been appalled by that sentiment.
Women are fucking pissed.
This ain’t the 50’s anymore. As one sign read, "Bitches don’t fuck around nowadays”.
Standing with those women and men, reminded me of how short I have left on this earth. I’ll be 50 this year. What have I got… maybe 20 years left? I’m in a mid-tier-level metal band, not one of the biggest, not one of the smallest, and while certainly one of the greatest, we will be forgotten just like so many of the bands of yore.
In the end, history won’t remember Machine Head.
History will remember The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Springsteen, maybe AC/DC, probably Metallica. And then 3 or 4 rappers (Snoop, Jay, Wayne, Em). Some country, some pop (Taylor, Beyonce, Drake).
And that’s it.
How many Classical composers have been forgotten?
Hell, recorded music only dates back 70 years, it’ll will end soon too. It already is.
We’re all going to be forgotten, much sooner than anyone would like to think.
And we should be.
The past is an anchor.
I spoke to an 80 year old woman who remembers what it was like when women couldn’t vote. She thanked the protests and marches of the women suffragettes in the 1930’s, that allowed her and other (white) women to finally able to vote.
Black women came much later.
Think about that…? A woman couldn’t vote, only men could.
That’s why I marched.
Because no change happens without action.
And while I may be forgotten soon, I was a tiny part of the largest protest in American history. And that change will far outlast the music I’ve made.
Like the sign read: “Power To The Pussy”.