Where is a young moderate to go when no one cares to hear their voice?
As I'm writing this, I'm seeing the coverage from the Women's March on TV and photos, videos, and live streams popping up on my social media feeds.
I have many beautiful, strong, female friends who devoted their day to marching for the rights of marginalized populations and I respect them for their passion and willingness to stand up for what they believe in.
I, too, was invited to join in with some friends but found it necessary to decline as I felt very much that my particular narrative was unwelcome.
Let me explain...
When it comes to political beliefs, I am very moderate.
Years ago, I confessed with trepidation to a co-worker that I was a registered Republican.
I was nervous about his response because telling someone you're a republican (even if you're really just a "republican" for the purpose of primary voting) in the hyper-liberal city of Portland, Oregon where I'm from is akin to telling someone in the Bible Belt that you are a Satan worshipper.
My co-worker was visibly surprised but said that where he's from (upstate New York), I would be considered liberal.
From then on he jokingly referred to me as a "West Coast Conservative... but an East Coast liberal".
My moderate beliefs stem from a background that has been cobbled together from the often paradoxical cultures and experiences of my youth.
I grew up in a world with the liberal landscape of Portland to my left and the teachings of the super conservative Baptist church my family attended to my right. I never felt like I fit in completely with either and eventually found my place during my college years somewhere in the middle.
I am not someone who stands against LGBTQ rights. I support welcoming refugees into this country. I am a proponent of social programs that will support low-income income families. I did not vote for Trump (though I also didn't vote for Clinton as my very blue state afforded me the luxury of voting my conscience).
That said, the area where my leanings don't fall in line with the Women's March vision is in the area of my views on women's choice.
Despite my sometimes conflicting feelings and moderate stance on the matter, I would categorize myself as being pro-life. I value life in all its forms, which does not exclude the unborn.
This view is one that doesn't fit very neatly with the narrative of my left leaning friends and it is one that the Women's March made clear that it did not welcome either.
The March opted to exclude New Wave Feminists (a pro-life feminist group) from co-sponsoring the event. In a statement released via Twitter, they said:
"The Women's March's Platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one. We want to assure all of our partners, as well as participants, that we are pro-choice as clearly stated in our Unity Principles. We look forward to marching on behalf of individuals who share the view that women deserve the right to make their own reproductive decisions. The anti-choice organization in question is not a partner of the Women's March on Washington. We apologize for this error."
It doesn't get much clearer than that. The Women's March made obvious that those, like me, who didn't fit neatly into their brand of feminism were not part of this movement and that was something I didn't feel I could overlook.
I do realize that there are plenty of people marching today who also identify as pro-life and chose to overlook this, because there are so many other issues at stake and I say, more power to them.
I understand that this is complicated. But, for me, it would have felt disingenuous.
I understand that wanting change and wanting your voice to be heard, but who are you hoping will hear you if your message is unwelcoming?
If even I, a minority (half-Mexican) Millennial woman (basically the exact demographic for this movement) felt excluded from this movement, then how can we expect old, white, conservative men to join in on the discussion?
Right now it really feels like there is no place for a moderate millennial to stand... or march. The only two narratives we've been offered are staunch republican or bleeding heart liberal.
So where is a young moderate to go when no one cares to hear their voice?
There are so many strong and wonderful women in this world and I think it's time to accept that we don't all fit as neatly into the boxes that society has created for us.
And really, isn't acknowledging that the first step toward achieving true feminism?