Women’s March in Las Cruces

On Sunday January 21, 2018 I was one of the many hundred attendees of the second annual Women’s March in Downtown Las Cruces.  I arrived in warm clothes, a pink Pussy Hat and pink lipstick to match. A sea of pink coming into my vision made me proud of Las Cruces; I was grateful to not be the only resident who cares about justice and equality in our country that has taken hundreds of steps backwards in gender equality and justice. If equality and justice for all existed, there would be no need for the Women’s March or any other marches. I was ready to brave the cold wind for myself, my mother and my siblings.

My mother is the strongest woman I know. She raised my two autistic siblings two states away due to Las Cruces and all of New Mexico being unable to provide aid to children with autism. She was basically a single parent for almost fifteen years. My father and I stayed in Las Cruces. My father was an entrepreneur who worked hard to support his family.

Both my parents have always believed in me and have supported my education and my life and career goals. I marched to honor my late father and make my mom proud. I want to join her and the other strong, amazing women in our family.

I wish the Women’s March included “ableism.” Ableism favors able-bodied people and is an influential method of discrimination that has accustomed society to see the disabled (mentally and/or physically) as “burdens.” Disabled people are not expected to survive on their own. I want my siblings to be seen as human beings with the same rights as all citizens. Marches are meant to unite, not leave anyone behind.

I yearn to set a positive example for all races, abilities, genders and sexualities from my generation and future generations with the message that I did not give into the Patriarchal leaders and society by being submissive and silent. I am not afraid to defend my beliefs; I speak up and write to improve the world. If one person hears my voice, witnesses my actions and reads my writing, I hope that person will leave the comfort zone and make changes. Nobody improved the world by never getting off of their asses. I anticipate a ripple effect throughout generations.

The Women’s March provided opportunities for me to help The Student Alliance for Reproductive Justice (SARJ) in canvasing to add House Bill 16 (decriminalizing abortion in New Mexico) to the agenda for the 2018 Regular Legislative Session, meet Madeline “Mad” Hildebrandt (candidate for Second Congressional District), and meet Micaela Lara Cadena (candidate for State Representative in District 33). I strongly believe in women’s and girls’ right to choose to have an abortion. Although abortion is not the only issue in Reproductive Justice, politicians, families, and friends of individuals with unintended pregnancies should not have the right to limit choices in women’s and girl’s bodies. The choice of what to do with my body is nobody’s business but my own.  I refuse to live in the Republic of Gilead. * I believe Hildebrandt and Cadena are the ideal candidates to protect the reproductive rights of New Mexico residents; I respect both candidates for joining the March.

While hundreds of Las Cruces residents and I marched downtown, we gained positive feedback from drivers and people exiting buildings. Drivers honked and waved while pedestrians took photographs and wished us well. This was the attention I enjoy; being productive. The witnesses may be inspired to join the 2019 March and recruit friends and family. I will definitely join the 2019 March and the following Marches.  

By: Eleni Philippou