The March for Women's Lives

Reflections of a third-generation feminist

| April 2004

As my friends and I moved through the 'March for Women's Lives' today, dressed in our uniform hoodies and New Balances, cell phones and crumpled bills in our pockets, we spontaneously started rapping Salt & Peppa lyrics from our middle schools years: 'If I want to take a guy/home with me tonight/ain't none yo business!' We were fourteen again, giddy and dancing along Pennsylvania Avenue. Older women dressed in bright pink T-shirts with fanny packs sensibly filled with water bottles and snacks smiled at us lovingly, elbowing their friends and pointing at the newbees. After a few verses we unconsciously segued into 'R-E-S-P-E-C-T' by Aretha. We belted it out. We danced among the beautifully wrinkled veterans. We became, once and for all, our mother's daughters.

I am 24-years-old and I have long been searching for a way to feel whole within the women's movement. When I found a copy of Gloria Steinem's Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions on my shelf as a young girl, signed to my mom and me (a present from my dad), I was embarrassed. I thought feminism was ugly, that it meant shunning my Barbie epics and Belinda Carlisle.

But when I hit adolescence and every young woman I knew fell apart (eating disorders, teen pregnancy, relationship abuse), I felt too alone not to seek a movement, a community, an ideology that could explain the seemingly automatic disintegration. Hip hop spoke to my outrage, but females were all but invisible in the high school ciphers I witnessed and surely weren't on the radio in force. Feminism still felt like my momma's revolution, but I knew I had to get down with it somehow.

Today, for the first time really, I did. Today I felt recognized and protected. I felt moved and hopeful. I felt strong and respected. But most profoundly, I felt very much a part of something... 1,000,000 women -- wrinkled and rapping alike -- away from being alone.

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