Averil Gleason

I attended The Women’s March in Houston this weekend.

It was beautiful.

It was empowering.

And most of all, it was freezing cold.

Marching alongside me were my best friend Aileen and her little sister Tess. We held wooden signs in the shape of the female symbol and we carried them with pride as we marched to Houston City Hall on Saturday morning.

Before the march began, my dad asked me why I was attending. “Women have rights, you know,” he told me, matter-of-factly. “What’s the point? What are you marching for?”

At first, I was stumped.

The Women’s March is a seemingly controversial protest based on who funded it: Planned Parenthood.

The goal of the march is to advocate legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues, including women’s rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, reproductive rights, the environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, workers’ rights and tolerance.

But why was I marching? Maybe women do have rights. The right to buy land and vote and get out of the kitchen and into the workforce.

But what happens when they get a job? And they’re being paid less than their male counterpart? What about the women who want to feel safe when they’re walking down the streets at night?

Sure, we have rights. But do we have respect?

I think back to a date I had where a man attempted to force himself on me 45 minutes after meeting. He was 6-6 and I was no match for him.

I couldn’t tell my parents because then I wouldn’t be able to go on dates anymore. My safety was in jeopardy. And when my life is at risk, when girls all around me are at risk, we’re the ones who have to be on the defense.

“Don’t stay out too late.” “Carry your pepper spray at all times!” “Drink! But not too much!” “Be a lady! Even if he isn’t a gentleman!” When these thoughts came flooding to me, I went back to tell my dad exactly why I was marching.

My dad didn’t understand why people were marching because he’s a good guy. And I’m not sure he’s ready to accept that there are some bad people out there.

I marched on Saturday because I’m strong, too. I may not have as many muscles as a man. But I have my wit. And my smarts. I was one of over 10,000 people in attendance.

Ten thousand people were marching because of the things that President Trump said during his campaign, which I feel threatened millions of people who were gay, disabled, illegal immigrants, and everyone in between.

I realized that I wasn’t marching for one specific reason, but rather for every reason listed. Many people referred to the Women’s March as an anti-Trump rally, but I viewed the march in a different way.

In the eyes of everyone marching, Trump started his political career on the wrong foot, but there is room for improvement. He is our president, and the people marching wanted him to know there is still time to change.

There is still time to make America great again if he would just listen to what the people at the Women’s March have to say.

These people were marching to promote hope for the future, not fear.

For many of us, the march wasn’t driven by hate. It was rooted in the fact that we are all equal.

By the end of the day, my hands hurt from clapping so much and my throat was sore from cheering so loud.

I was proud to be one of 10,000 people marching for equality.

Saturday was more than a protest.

The Women’s March fueled peace and positivity among millions of people all over the world.

I’m marching for the future.

I’m marching so women who go on dates with men won’t be scared or have to fend predators off.

Yes, we have rights.

For me, things are pretty good. But that’s not the case for all women. And until we’re all on a level playing field, I will continue to march.

Contact Averil Gleason at agleason@fbherald.com.

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