1. Go with or become part of an affinity group.
An affinity group can be as small as you and a friend. You’ll trade essential info with each other: Name, etc., support people outside the march, lawyer’s phone, any medical conditions, what to do if you get separated. You will keep track of each other. If you decide to temporarily part from the group, you will tell them why and where you are going. This march is not the time to boldly go it alone.
2. Watch out for “instant intimacy” with a sister marcher.
We early Feminists often learned too late about the infiltration tactics of those opposed to us. There was the charming new group member with whom women felt instant intimacy — and who asked personal and political questions about the other members of the group. There was the “sister” who started gossiping about other women: “Have you noticed that Jenny takes up too much time talking about her personal stuff?” “Do you think that Annette is a just a little power hungry and bossy?” There was the new member who almost immediately advocated breaking the law.
A powerful show of solidarity engenders closeness and warmth between the participants. It’s easy to confuse those heightened feelings with a deep connection. Take your time to get to know the fabulous woman you just met. And remember the words that were posted over the phone in my 1965 urban anarchist collective: Loose Lippies Bust Hippies.
3. Have your butt covered should you be considering civil disobedience.
Establish contact people outside the march, have a lawyer in place, know who your bail contributors will be. Carry two phones, just in case one is lost or taken. Talk with friends about your plan. Listen to what they tell you.
4. It’s going to be cold in D.C.
Wear layers and have extra socks, sweater and gloves in your backpack. Be prepared to have to walk longer and further than you might at first have planned. A thermos of something hot is a good idea. Be sure to eat breakfast before the march — lots of protein and whole grains for fuel. Remember that local restaurants are going to be jammed.
5. Don’t expect other people to take care of you.
Bring what you need. If you are diabetic, bring your supplies. Asthmatic, be sure you have your inhaler. On medication, bring enough. Tell your affinity group what meds you have with you and what you might need.
6. While there well may be sympathetic security folks, don’t count on it.
Curb your impulse to trust; at the same time, don’t go hostile. Pay attention. And, honor what the march leaders tell you to do.
7. Use all your senses.
Rather than burying your nose in your phone, look up, listen hard, sense the energy of the people around you. Be ready to change strategy at a moment’s notice. But, before you do, check in with your affinity group. This march is about We, not I.
8. Know that as you march, there are women unable to be with you — and their spirit carries you.
I broke my kneecap three-plus weeks ago. I won’t be able to march even here in Flagstaff. My doc and p.t. have told me that I must not fall. But, I’ll be watching on my computer and I guarantee you that I’ll be filled with gratitude. And pride.
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