May the Loudest Man Follow

Something that seems to happen frequently at marches: The march begins, and the loudest men charge quickly to the front of the crowd, shouting chants and raising their fists. I start out in front, trying stay with the marchers, but soon I am hobbling along, baby on hip, diaper bag hanging from my shoulder, and dragging some ridiculously large sign that my daughter insisted on holding only to refuse to carry it anymore. My chant is weaker then the men's up front, who's hands are free, but for a megaphone. I am a bit out of breath. Pretty soon, my kid starts whining about the walk, or begging for juice, or meandering towards traffic, and I am further diverted from the forward momentum of the rally. A lot of reporters want to take my kids' pictures. Everybody asks if its their first protest and I say, "No,"...but I am wishing it was our last.
After a half hour we are inevitably at the very end of the march. The crowd keeps bolting along, but as I look around, I see all the other people with small children are also straggling behind. Also people in wheelchairs. There is a frantic energy in the back. No one is chanting. We gave up on that a long time ago. We are simply rushing to follow the loudest-men-led crowd, which is moving at a pace that seems break-neck to us with our automated chairs, or unwieldy loads, or sobbing toddlers. The police are closer to us in the rear than we are to the rest of the march. We get all of their bored, rolling-eyes stares, and curt little motorcycle siren blips. We can hardly hear the chants anymore.
And I think, isn't this what's wrong with everything in the first place?
At my revolution, the slowest people would lead. Mothers should be in the front anyway. If we listened to mothering, everything in the world would be more peaceful, and more empowering. Plus, mothers are so much better at making sure no one is left behind.
I am not saying that the loud men couldn't be fighting, too. But at my revolution, they'd be in the back. So they could protect us from the police, and so they could keep all of us in their line of sight- so they wouldn't forget to remember the women, the elders, the babies, the disabled, and the quiet people. Plus, we need to have their loud voices in the back so we can hear the chants. They should be chanting for us, not away from us! They should be marching to us, not leaving us in the dust!


Anonymous Rick said...

This was sure the case during the port protest march. Everyone had to shout at the leaders to "slow down!"

I love the poster in the picture: "Simon says: Daycare!"

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your points are eloquent and moving. Your observations of the dynamics in a march are spot on. In many ways I view your blog and the olyblog as a march, albeit a properly organized march where people can maintain their proper order in the march. Not that the blogs are organized as such, but they allow the presentation of views and ideas in a format that allows us to contribute at our own chosen speed. Maybe this is a reach but I do like the process, for the most part, of the blog. Not sure how to incorporate it into a march, but we should and must.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Machete Red said...

This post ties in with the "Women v. Men: round 1,000,000" conversation on Olyblog, yes? I wanted to post something there, but the whole time felt like that conversation was HOT LAVA and I was trying to stay at the top of the slide. Eep. Maybe it's cause I'm a chick.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Jade said...

I don't view it as women vs. men. More like in what way do men and women (and everyone)work together that's more empowering and inclusive to all? Of course, my opinions are biased as well. I guess no one can escape that.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Machete Red said...

I think you and I are on the same page about that; I was referring to the way the conversation was framed by those participating and how it seemed like anyone who chimed in would be sucked into a dialectic vortex. Although you managed to avoid that. Have you read Betty Friedan's intro to the 2000 edition of the Feminine Mystique? It sums up my views on the evolution of feminism.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Jade said...

I try to avoid dialectic vortexes as well. Sometimes that means keeping quiet on something since you can't think of a good way to reframe it. Even this post seemed like a bit of a risk to me...its so easy these days to be written off as a man-hater.That's definitely not what I want.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jade, you've stated it so beautifully. I've experienced the same thing myself, being that I'm a heavy man and I tend to do a lot of copwatching which puts me toward the rear of the march as it progresses.

I usually start out up front, since at the beginning that is where police direct the herding efforts. At the end we worry more about pickoffs among the stragglers. The police are often more like wolves than not.

I was a 'peacekeeper coordinator' once, connected to every other peacekeeper by radio and handsign, and our primary job (as it turned out) was to herd the banner holders up front and stop the march from time to time to let the rear end form up. It was not exactly what I had signed up to do, but that is why leaders - real leaders - serve instead of drag.

Marches are energizing, and it is easy to see why the youngest will stream toward the front. Honestly I don't see it as a gender divide as much as a youth divide, but that is my bias as a loud, fat, slow white man. I do lead cheers and calls; I've had a stage voice which could deafen a jet since I was in Junior High. That's not something I'll apologize for, but I am sorry if it feels like we're running away sometimes. We need to take more responsibility for that (as a movement). Drum corps would work, with a somber beat. Then speed up when the march stays in any one place for a dance party, maybe. We also have the Sound Cart now, as well - and the DJs to run it.


12:59 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

I'll get behind you anytime and anywhere, Jade! But first I've got to start showing up for the rallies. Woog.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Jade said...


Age is another factor. When I originally wrote this it contained a line about "young, virile Capitalists" as well, but I took it out cause it seemed too divisive.After all, the point is not that loud men shouldn't be loud, or come to rallies. The point is that people should use their energy and power to serve the group and the causes we stand for.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Machete Red said...

Exactly. It's about appropriate and effective use of resources. It's like capitalism, in a way--everyone ends up wanting to be in the front, and no one is thinking about where they best fit in.

8:10 AM  

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