As the parent of two teen daughters, I found that the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., last weekend offered a great many challenges are far as evaluating the actual event. As often happens with cultural events of such magnitude, parents must walk a fine line between highlighting the positive aspects — and offering a dialogue that fairly evaluates it.
Usually, these discussions can be distilled into the basic tools of human communication: text, context, and subtext.
My children’s initial reaction was that the march — including the companion marches in other cities — was “a good thing.” Such confident expression of feeling should be encouraged in a family environment, so we discussed why they felt the way they did and the general feeling of empowerment that being part of a certain section of America can bring, as well championing the American ideal of free speech. That millions of people turned out for the event demonstrates the power of the American people — provided they can be focused.
However, as we dissected the purpose of the march, things became muddy. The march’s textual messaging was problematic. The official website, in fact, offered nothing in regard to what the march’s message was to be. This explains why it became a confused catch-all to defend women’s rights and, apparently, advocate for immigration reform, health care reform, protection of the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, freedom of religion, workers’ rights — and a desire to carry out violence against the White House (thanks, Madonna).
So apparently the Women’s March was about … everything. This included things that the Left does not actually believe in, such as freedom of religion, unless it’s Islam. We already know Oregon bakers get crucified by the state for not baking gay wedding cakes, after all.
Thus was delivered the first lesson to the kids about standing up for what you believe in: Know what you want to say, how you are going to say it, and keep it simple.
I asked the kids if the date of the march was important, and they noted that it came the day after President Trump’s inauguration. “Of all days,” I asked, “why pick this day?” They understood that the march was unquestionably connected to the new president.
The Women’s March was driven by their anger at losing the election and a hatred of President Trump, rather than women’s issues.
From that came the lesson that time, place, tone, intonation, and history are all important factors in communication.
Plan. Organize. Consider the context.
The choice of date threw the alleged message into even greater confusion. It suggested the Women’s March was driven by anger at losing the election and a general hatred of President Trump, rather than women’s issues.
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This led to a discussion about President Trump himself. As we know, some things that the president has said in the past regarding some women are inexcusable. There should always be concern that deeply held beliefs of any politician may translate to harmful policy. Conservatives were proven right that Obama’s anti-colonialist, anti-Zionist beliefs were something to be concerned about, as they led to destructive and harmful policies.
In the president’s case, we can’t know how his statements about women relate to his true beliefs. However, even if the worst beliefs are real, it seems unlikely they would lead to actual policy, especially considering laws and silly little things like the 14th Amendment.
So what buried messages were being sent by the march? Subtext offers more deeply thoughtful meanings when communicating. Even master communicators often struggle with subtext.
For this topic, I used an image of a female veteran who posted the following on her Facebook page: “Instead of taking to the streets with a sign against rape and abuse, I strapped myself with a GLOCK and took to the range to learn how to defend against these threats. #myideaofwomenempowerment” — with a badass photo of her doing exactly that.
Free speech, protests, and marches should be championed. However, being proactive is better. The regrettable subtext of the march, particularly in regard to sexual assault, was that women are victims and need government policy to protect them — which it can never do.
Compare this to the subtextual message of my Facebook gal pal: “Government will not protect me. My constitutional right to carry a gun, learning to defend myself, and embracing self-determination protects me.”
I saw new understanding on my children’s faces.
“Because Hillary Clinton is a Democrat, she got a pass.”
I then added an editorial, because as a parent, when it comes to serious issues like sexual assault and liberal hypocrisy, a modicum of indoctrination based on common sense is worth its weight in gold.
“As awful as the things President Trump has said in the past, if this march were truly about sexual assault, then where were all these women when Hillary Clinton was running for president? This woman — who not only denied that Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey were sexually assaulted by her husband but tried to destroy them, and has enabled her serial rapist husband for decades — is the one they should be protesting.”
I paused and added, “Yet because she is a Democrat, she got a pass. This is a double standard, and sets back the very cause the march claims to be partially about. It is self-destructive, and entirely counterproductive, to fight against sexual assault.”
I concluded by giving my girls something to think about. “Women must ask themselves what they care about more. Do they actually care about the epidemic and horror of sexual assault — or do they want to protect those who happen to fit their political bias regardless of whatever wrongs or crimes they’ve committed?”
In my household, it was a very successful Women’s March discussion.
The author is a freelance writer based in California.