I am not marching because I was born in Mike Pence’s home state.
I am not marching because my grandfather worked in politics and my grandmother raised six children. She never took a birth control pill or had an orgasm.
I am not marching because I am the daughter of a taxi driver and a hippy turned homemaker. They don’t have college degrees, and neither do I.
I am not marching because when they divorced, my mother was stuck in a system of welfare and food stamps that spiraled into dependence, then depression and neglect.
I am not marching because twenty years later, the state of Indiana is just now requiring child support payments from my father.
I am not marching because the public school system failed me by teaching me that I could be anything I wanted to be but not providing me the tools and resources I needed to achieve those dreams.
I am not marching because when I started wearing black nail polish and putting my head down on my desk to avoid the constant bullying, the principal threatened to suspend me for being a distraction to education.
I am not marching because when the new kid in my class with darker skin than mine wrote me a love letter that made me smile, I had to skip gym class for a week until the belt marks went away.
I am not marching because abstinence-only sexual education meant no one taught me that I have more self-worth than the sexual attention I began receiving.
I am not marching because at thirteen years old I was required to watch the ultrasound after driving four hours to the nearest clinic, and his mother told mine I needed Jesus.
I am not marching because the government’s No Child Left Behind policy left me, an advanced honor student, spinning my wheels in a broken system.
I am not marching because I dropped out of high school with a 4.0 GPA and a note on my report card about “lacking attention to work”.
I am not marching because when I kissed a girl as a teenager, I was sent home from my work shift for causing my male coworkers to discuss inappropriate topics.
I am not marching because I had to pay income taxes years before I was legally allowed to vote.
I am not marching because when I ran away seeking a better life, the self worth I was taught as a little girl allowed me to fall in love with a sociopath.
I am not marching because when I accidentally became pregnant, the abortion clinic was two hours away by train in a city I had no idea how survive in.
I am not marching because when I tried to leave, I couldn’t receive assistance for health insurance because he threatened me not to open a child support case.
I am not marching because when I became pregnant with my daughter, I didn’t have coverage for birth control but I had ample access to any other drug I wanted.
I am not marching because when he cheated on me and lied about finances, I had no choice or support to leave.
I am not marching because my family could never afford to fly out of the midwest to visit me. I spent almost a decade raising kids that had never met my own father.
I am not marching because when I cried out for help from the authorities, he went to jail for a night and paid a few remedial class fees. I lost my career, his half of our family’s income, my home, my social connections, and my dignity.
I am not marching because even with financial aid that I qualified for as a young mother, I couldn’t afford child care to return to school and work part time.
I am not marching because I had to break the restraining order when he was the only support system I had.
I am not marching because I spent a years of my life dolled up in heels, trying to use my beauty for attention so I could speak my intelligent mind. I tell myself the breast augmentation was really for me, not the promotion I finally received after surgery.
I am not marching because when we moved to the suburbs, I couldn’t afford to work full-time in and commute to an office anymore.
I am not marching because I lost my family’s health insurance when I was demoted from employee to just another undervalued caretaker role.
I am not marching because I spent three years being whored out by billion-dollar “family-friendly” brands on my blog for not enough pay or respect.
I am not marching because I had to get married for health insurance when his income counted against me and the ACA didn’t require his corporate employer to cover domestic partnerships.
I am not marching because the combination of hormonal birth control and antidepressants for my abusive relationship falsely diagnosed as postpartum depression made me crazy and fat. I am not marching because he lowered my self-esteem and the doctor suggested I raise the dosage.
I am not marching because there was no one to turn to as his addictions erased my identity and imprisoned me at home. I should’ve kept my legs closed, anyway.
I am not marching because when I told him about the hopelessness and desperation, the psychiatrist just made sure I didn’t want to keep breastfeeding (it’s best for baby) before tossing more drugs my way.
I am not marching because when he scammed his company for thousands of dollars and got fired for the umpteenth time, I lost all stability and health insurance for myself and my three children.
I am not marching because he convinced me I was just as fucked up without the crazy pills I couldn’t afford.
I am not marching because in order to run away, I had to swallow my pride and become a charity case just to end up back in my hometown.
I am not marching because when he wrecked my credit and my ability to even have a bank account in my name, I was scolded by one overseas representative after another about personal responsibility.
I am not marching because the law required me to wait six months after fleeing to a new state with my small children to legally file for divorce or receive support.
I am not marching because all the women I thought I knew turned on me with accusations and assumptions rather than holding my hand. We are in many ways, our own enemies.
I am not marching because although he’s been my best friend for more than half my life, my toddler only knows him as Daddy, and I would trust him with the life of my children more than anyone on earth, he can’t make legal decisions on their behalf should something happen to me.
I am not marching because while women may no longer be considered property, we are still not trusted to make their own decisions and judgements as to how we raise our children. Or grow them in our bodies. Or not.
I am not marching because I’ve spent more than a year now trying to dig myself out of this hole and break free of the systems for the second time in my life.
I am not marching because I’ve burnt bridges with almost half of my family and friends here due to division of culture and misunderstandings about lifestyle differences.
I am not marching because I’ve spent more than 20 years of my life now with the bible shoved down my throat in one way or another. If you want help when you’re homeless, you have to praise the Lord.
I am not marching because in order to vote in our presidential election, I had to find childcare and stand in a community church gymnasium full of red hats, with a baby strapped to my chest for an hour, ignoring the disapproving glances at my tattoos.
I am not marching because the search result for nearby marches turned up zero results, and had I taken the initiative to organize one, I would’ve been ostracized by local, biased press.
I am not marching because I can count on one hand the number of people in my hometown who have ever flown on an airplane. You simply can’t justify the price of a small regional airport ticket to, in their minds, abandon responsibility and carry around a sign with hashtags on it.
I am not marching because I have a four month old baby boy, and we as a nation do not offer paid paternity leave.
I am not marching because I was raised on the idea that if I was just pretty and sweet enough, I would be saved by a prince to live happily ever after. I was tricked.
I am not marching because I was pushed into motherhood by a society so dripping in patriarchy that we question what’s wrong with a woman who doesn’t want children but accept a man’s desire either way.
I am not marching because I was tricked into a life of dependency and forever feeling like I am not enough in comparison to the unrealistic expectations of this feminine role.
I am not marching because there is no affordable childcare in our state, so I juggle sippy cups and my sanity because after all, my most important job in life is to be a mom anyway, right Ivanka?
I am not marching because I’m researching what options I’ll have besides forced matrimony when my children and I lose our health insurance yet again soon and our household income is too high.
I am not marching because I am internally pressured to accomplish career goals as soon as possible before I have an issue with my IUD and can’t get it replaced.
I am not marching because I haven’t figured out how to translate my negative experiences into preventative measures for my daughter’s generation.
I am not marching because today I have to push a metal cart in circles around a run-down rural Walmart, filling it with over-processed foods, avoiding the cashier with the low IQ and then the bible thumper passing out pamphlets.
I am not marching because I am a product of oppression and a prisoner to my gender.
I am not marching because I’m busy doing what we’ve always done, the often unnoticed and largely undervalued work of women.
I am not marching because I can’t describe to you the very real hopelessness and isolation here in the heartland of our country.
I am not marching today because my friends here who grew into oblivious women are chatting away in some church rec room over coffee and cupcakes while their husbands at home stream HD porn and jizz on their fancy handtowels.
I am not marching because I have long ago learned how difficult it is to always swim against the tide, and frankly, I am tired.
I am not marching because I have lost faith in government and trust in authority as a unique member of both the forgotten America and the liberal resistance.
I am not marching because all I can do right now is write, and only writing can get me out of here.
There are so many more reasons I cannot march, and they are all reasons you are.
You are marching for me.