Trying Not to be Trampled by Other People’s Anger

There are a few things that scare the heck out of me. Angry people. People with an agenda. Vast crowds. Is it any wonder that yesterday, the day of the women’s march, I stayed as far away from Washington DC as possible?

The only time I was ever in a huge crowd, I was smashed against a chain-link fence waiting to see the Beatles pass by. At the time, I didn’t know who the Beatles were, didn’t care, but a neighbor girl who did know the Beatles and loved them, desperately wanted to go to the airport to greet the icons. Her mother said she couldn’t go unless I went with her (I’ve always been nauseatingly responsible) so the girl badgered me and badgered me to go with her despite my repeated no’s. I finally agreed to ask my mother, secure in the belief that my mother would say no since “no” seemed to be her default response. To my utter horror, she said yes. So the girl and I took a taxi out to the airport and waited for hours for the famed quartet to appear. When they finally drove by, smiling and waving, the crowd (mostly girls) erupted into a frenzy of excitement and charged after the car moving slowly along the other side of the fence. I was crushed against the fence, and probably would have been stomped underfoot except for the panicked grip I kept on the links. Finally, the crowd pushed past me, and I was alone. The neighbor girl had disappeared, and I had no way to get back home.

Obviously, I did get back home, but the memories of my return are not as sharp as the memory of the crowd and my panic. I vaguely remember talking to someone in a phone booth, but I don’t know who I was talking to or how I got there, and I vaguely remember a taxi dropping me off at the house.

I’ve never allowed myself to be fenced in by crowds again.

Strangely, my fear of crowds predated that episode, though I don’t know where the fear came from. Perhaps books? I’ve always read everything I could get my hands on, even when it wasn’t age-appropriate, so I subjected myself literarily to many traumas that I would not willingly undergo in real life.

Two things missing from that experience with the Beatles mob were anger and people with agendas. An experience that would incorporate all three of my fears would have scarred me for life. Of course, those fears and the possibility of being scarred are not the only things that kept me away from the woman’s march — I had absolutely no interest in such a thing. I want my days to be filled with accomplishment, even if all I accomplish is sitting around waiting for my arm/wrist/elbow to heal.

What did the woman’s march accomplish?

Is there one person in the entire world who woke up this morning and said, “Wow, I never knew women could be so powerful powerful”? Everybody already knows that. For example, the fact that Hillary lost the election does not make her power any less impressive.

Is there one person who woke up this morning and said, “Let’s make women equal”? Women are ready equal. In fact they are more than equal. If hundreds of thousands of men — not just men of color, but a vast presence of white men — had participated in a men’s march, there would have been a violent and angry backlash. Women are especially more equal when it comes to unborn babies. If the father wants the baby and the mother wants an abortion, the father is out of luck. Conversely if the mother wants the baby and the father doesn’t, he is stuck paying child support for the next 18 years. (Seems to me that being taught those facts in a sex education class would be a stronger deterrent to unwanted pregnancy than passing out condoms.)

As far as I can see, the only thing this march accomplished was to prove that hundreds of thousands of women were rich enough to make a weekend jaunt to the nation’s capital. Oh, and that women are just as guilty of practicing non-inclusivity as those they accuse of that very “crime.” All women were welcome . . . Except those who did not agree with the agenda of the organizers.

I tend to stay away from controversial matters so I’m not sure why I am talking about this (and yes, I am actually talking using speech recognition software) except that it’s hard to avoid reminders of the march unless I avoid Facebook, and it might come to that. The anger that fills my Facebook feed hurts my soul. I feel flattened by all that emotion, as if once again I were pressed against a chain-link fence, trying not to be trampled underfoot.



(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”) Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.