Gurney's Inn
January 17, 2018

Women's March To The Polls


Ladies first.

The ladies show us that like politics all protests are local.

Change begins at events like the Sag Harbor Women's March this Saturday at 11 AM on Long Wharf with the constitutional right to free assembly in the American street. Then like most successful protests about social and political issues they finish with a march into the American voting booth.

In between concerned citizens hope to change the minds of others, starting with family, neighbors on your street, in your neighborhood, village, town, county, city, state, and nation.

"Last year because I have two daughters I wanted to participate in the post-election Women's Marches that were being staged in Washington DC and in New York City," says Hope Marxe, a Sag Harbor resident. "As the presidential Inauguration Day approached I wanted to lead by example for my daughters because some of the things that were said in the campaign were unacceptable to girls and women in our country."

But Marxe didn't want to have to travel with her daughters to Manhattan or Washington DC to march.

So on January 19 last year she went to Sag Harbor Village Hall and applied for a permit to stage a Women's March right in town on Jan. 21, adding the voices of her daughters and herself and some neighbors to the national rejection of President-elect Donald Trump's toxic statements about women which included his disturbing hot mic comments on "Access Hollywood" about sexually assaulting women and to lend support to over a dozen women who had come forward to say that Donald Trump had sexually abused them verbally and physically.

"I only gave the town two days notice," Marxe says. "The police chief asked how many people would be at the rally. I said maybe 50. Well, to my shock over 300 women -- and some concerned men -- turned out. I was overwhelmed. So was the police chief who looked at me and shook his head and said, 'Fifty people, huh?' But the police were great. The rally was loud but orderly and here in the East End we joined the national voices of the women who were disturbed by the election."

Marxe says it was also a wonderful personal bonding experience with her daughters, and a lasting civics lesson for her girls aged 12 and six.

"My daughters loved making the protest signs," Marxe says. "They loved joining other girls and women to speak their minds. I'm not a political activist. This is not about me. This was just a spur of the moment idea to show my daughters that we could say what was on our minds. Then after the successful march one of my daughters turned to me and said something every mother wants to hear from her daughter, 'I'm so proud of you, Mom.'"

Hope Marxe thought her role as a social activist would end there.

Then the first year of the Trump administration began with a daily outrage. There were so many destructive comments, tweets, and news stories exploding from the White House and the Congress that it was hard to keep track. When the New York Times reporting on Harvey Weinstein blossomed into the #MeToo movement, with dozens of women coming forward to detail sexual abuse at the hands of men in positions of power in entertainment, media, and politics a national discourse on sexual abuse, gender income disparity, and a call for basic decency took place.

Women -- especially women of color -- spearheaded change in places like Alabama where for the first time in a quarter-century a Democrat was elected to the US Senate, rejecting the preferred candidate of Donald Trump.

So this year Hope Marxe decided that she would give the Village of Sag Harbor two weeks' notice when applying for a permit for another Women's March down Main Street.

"The permit was granted," says Marxe. "But, please, this is not about me. This is about the women of our community, about the broad unhappiness and division in the nation. But this time I think we should stress a more positive message. This is more than an anti-Trump rally. I think we should offer hope that in 2018 women will make a difference in November in the mid-term elections and bring the change we need in the country. This year the Women's Marches should be about encouraging women to flock to the polls in record numbers because every single vote matters."

On the East End there is an active movement to unseat Congressman Lee Zeldin who invited an alt-right bum like Steve Bannon to host a fundraiser. In a crucial way this Sag Harbor Women's March will be a dress rehearsal for the November 6 long march of women to the polls.

"There's so much division in the country now that we should unite around common issues," says Marxe. "Last year we needed uplift, a way to help us get through the post-election depression. This year we need a mission of hope. We will bring change if we make our voices heard on the street now and in the voting booth in November. My daughters are all excited again, making signs, telling friends, spreading the word. They know their voices count, too. That makes me so proud of them."

Ladies first.

To comment on Sand in my Shoes, email denishamill@gmail.com

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