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How Every Woman Can Take Action and Change Our World
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“A perfect primer for women everywhere who want to take action-whether their heading to their first town hall meeting or running for office.” — Cecile Richards, New York Times bestselling author of Make Trouble and President of Planned Parenthood
“The book we all need to remind us why the fight against white supremacy and patriarchy will actually set us free.” — Patrisse Khan-Cullors, cofounder of Black Lives Matter and New York Times bestselling author of When They Call You a Terrorist
Keep Marching is a practical guide and highly researched examination of the barriers that hold women back-and how to overcome them.
Author Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner–the executive director of MomsRising, and a keynote speaker at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. — presents compelling data, timeless action plans, thought-provoking stories, a proactive agenda for change, and inspiration for how women can create change in their everyday lives and in the country as a whole.
This book provides proven tactics, policy solutions, and strategies any woman can use to build her power.
DID YOU KNOW THAT:
- One in three women have experienced some form of sexual assault?
- When a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises?
- The U.S. doesn’t have paid family/medical leave but 177 other countries do?
Keep Marching calls on all badass women for justice to come together and rise.
“Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
Millions of women became part of a wave of powerful, inspiring voices—reverberating through Washington, DC, and across the country and globe at over six hundred sister marches—on January 21, 2017. Longtime activists Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Bob Bland co-chaired the Women’s March1 of 2017, encouraging and helping women across the nation and around the world mobilize like never before.
It was the largest outpouring of people on a single day in the history of our nation.2
That was just the beginning. The Women’s March marked a turning point in our nation in much the same way that past marches and movements for equity, equality, and justice have done. Each of these turning points ultimately not only left their marks in our history books but also helped shape the culture we live in, produced legislative action that advanced many of the freedoms that we’ve come to enjoy, and provided a foundation for the ground we stand on today.
What got people out their doors and onto the streets for the Women’s March was what happened on Election Day in 2016. That day, the issues that many women care deeply about were either ignored or flat-out undermined by a shocking amount of support for—or at least tolerance of—sexist, racist, and xenophobic policies and behavior. That support included 53 percent of white women who voted for Donald Trump, a man with a well-documented history of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.3
In other words, in the face of hate, many white women didn’t stand up for themselves—or for every woman in the nation. That being said, many women did stand up against the onslaught of hate. A full 94 percent of Black women voted against Trump, as did nearly 70 percent of Latina women.
Since the 2016 election, it’s clear that a lot more women are waking up to the fact that we can’t take our rights for granted and that we can’t afford to be a nation divided.
It’s time to stand together, to keep marching together, to rise for and with one another.
In Keep Marching, my hope is to help you become more knowledgeable about the struggles and fights women in our nation face today—as well as how you can play a role in solving these challenges. The list of top priorities for the women of our nation is broad and diverse, just like we are as a country. So, in addition to covering issues like the wage gap and access to health care, I’ve also included chapters on ending mass incarceration and supporting fair treatment of immigrant families. We have a lot of work to do. But we also have a lot of power to do that work.
Remember, when we stand together, we are 164,148,777 strong. That’s power. We contribute a massive amount to our nation, to our economy, to our communities, to our families, to the future—in both unpaid and paid ways. According to the U.S. Census data as of 2015: 62 percent of us women are white non-Hispanic, 17 percent Hispanic, 13 percent Black, 5 percent Asian, 2 percent two or more races, 1 percent American Indian/Alaska Native, and 0.2 percent Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.4
Women are a fierce and rising force in our nation—and in our economy. We became half of the full-time labor force in our nation for the first time in the last decade.5 We make the vast majority of consumer purchasing decisions in our consumer-fueled economy.6 We push $11 trillion of value into our world economies through our unpaid work.7 We own 11.3 million American businesses, which employ over 9 million people and generate over $1.6 trillion in revenue. We earn the majority of college and graduate degrees.8 Single women are more than twice as likely to buy a home as single men (17 vs. 7 percent).9
Women play a role in every aspect of our country’s businesses; families; nonprofits; schools; churches; communities; city, county, state and federal governments; and American life. Women are rising as breadwinners, voters, and leaders, all while juggling an unprecedented number of roles at the same time.
The responsibility of building a movement together may be great, but the gains we can make together will be nothing short of revolutionary. Keep Marching is for every woman who is stepping into her power, who wonders how the heck we’re going to fix our nation’s problems, who wants to dig deeper, or who wants to help create positive change.
This book is for all of us who show up for marches, in movements, and in our communities; who give back; and who want answers and tactics for navigating the struggles in our daily lives. It’s also for all of us who have worked our butts off for democracy, ringing doorbells on cul-de-sacs in New Jersey, attending town hall meetings in Idaho, making calls in Mississippi. And it’s also for all of us who haven’t done any of that, who maybe have never been even remotely political, but who now find ourselves awake at night, staring at the ceiling, worrying about the safety of our daughters and about our children’s future, and who have realized that we must be our own heroes on their behalf.
And this book is being written in no small part in thanks to every woman leader, especially women of color, who has rightfully told me, “Go get your people.” This is me, getting my people. This is my call to every imperfect, glorious woman in America to keep marching.
Together we can change the fact that many of the policies that most directly impact our daily lives and economy are all too often swept under the rug and ignored. Together, we can inspire more women to participate in our democracy so that the laws of our land truly reflect the contributions and needs of all those who live here.
As the co-founder and executive director of MomsRising, a nonprofit organization with over a million diverse and powerful women in every state of our country, I’ve seen the power of women and moms taking action. With that in mind, I’ve written Keep Marching as a road map. This is a blueprint for how we build and wield power as women. This is an atlas showing how to advocate for policies that improve not only our own lives but also the lives of future generations. This is a diagram of how we can win.
That being said, I hope you write in the margins of this book, tear the pages out that you don’t agree with, write in your own new ideas, be in conversation with the concepts, add to what I’ve written, and work together in order to build a country that truly does work for us.
Keep Marching highlights and celebrates the contributions that women make every day to our country, as well as the barriers we unfortunately continue to face generation after generation. By providing the facts of what’s happening to women and families nationwide, as well as providing solutions, this book is focused on informing and giving you the power to implement change—in your own life, in the lives of women you know, and in the lives of women you don’t. Combining statistics, stories, and actionable advice, this book is intended to be a practical handbook for those of us—and our allies—who want to do something to help advance women’s rights and fix our nation, but who don’t know what or how.
In this book, you’ll find not only illuminating facts but also practical advice. The topics in this book reflect the priorities of the over a million women I’ve encountered through MomsRising, as well as the Unity Principles at the 2017 Women’s March. Many of the action plans that appear at the end of each chapter are based on a document that we at MomsRising created.10 This document includes tactics that we have used over the past decade to enact and encourage change. These tactics are accessible to anyone and can be tremendously effective. Know one thing: You are needed.
This Is Our Time to Rise
In order to truly change the status quo, we must not advocate for just one policy to change—but many. Not just one female leader—but thousands. It’s up to us to stand up for our sisters, our communities, and our nation.
If you ever feel overwhelmed by the hurdles ahead of us, remember this inspiring chant from the Women’s March:
When women are under attack, what do you do?
Stand up, fight back!
When Black lives are under attack, what do you do?
Stand up, fight back!
When Muslims are under attack, what do you do?
Stand up, fight back!
When immigrants are under attack, what do you do?
Stand up, fight back!
When trans people are under attack, what do you do?
Stand up, fight back!
When any of us are under attack, what do you do?
Stand up, fight back!
It’s our time to make history/herstory/ourstory. I invite every woman in America to keep marching forward. I may not be able to predict the future but I do know one thing for sure. As women, we will not be bullied. As women, we will not be silenced.
As women, we will rise.
“We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for.”
—GRACE LEE BOGGS
Driving to pick up my daughter from school, I started noticing bursts of colors in the yards as I passed. Light blue, lime green, hot pink, deep purple, sunny yellow, bright orange, sapphire blue. Yard signs adorned lawns even though the election season was over and done. I got curious. The print on the signs was too small to read as I zipped by, so I pulled my car over in front of one house to read the words:
In this house we believe Black Lives Matter, no human is illegal, love is love, women’s rights are human rights, science is real, water is life, and injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
In this book, that’s the belief, too. Now some people will say: “Hey, Kristin—This book is about women’s rights! Why such a broad spread of topics?” To this I say: As women, we’re all mosaics of many different experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds. As such, the top priorities of a modern women’s movement must reflect all that is our lives, our contributions, our needs, the barriers we face, and the paths we need to take to break those barriers down.
None of us are single-issue people.
Not all of us are ever going to agree on every issue, policy, action, or stand.
What’s most important is to keep believing in and inspiring each other, knowing that together women can—and must—be a nation-changing force.
When each of us does better, we all do better. When the most discriminated-against women among us rise, we all rise. If one group of women is left behind, we all suffer. Our freedoms are intertwined.
And thus, our struggles are intertwined, too.
To win, the modern women’s movement must be intersectional. We must pay deep respect to everything that we each carry and bring as women into our worlds, both alone and shared. Many women have long known this. As the great feminist thinker Audre Lorde said many decades ago, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives. Our struggles are particular, but we are not alone.” We are stronger together.
We saw, felt, and heard how strong we are at the Women’s March when millions of women took to the streets in the largest march in American history. We also saw that we are a beautiful cacophony of backgrounds, making a strong mosaic of a powerful movement together, and that the strands of all of us woven together are an unbreakable force. The fight for women’s rights to succeed is a fight for our nation to succeed. All of us together will make America strong.
Each of us brings our individual world of experience, talents, hopes, dreams, and worries to this movement. Similarly, each of us also wears blinders to each other’s worlds. In order for the movement to be successful, we must admit that we all wear blinders, open ourselves up to learning, and be as transparent as possible in order to lift all women up and win the fight for equality, equity, and justice.
So: As we begin this book, here’s who I am (or at least partly). I am a white, blond, now upper-middle-class, cisgender, hetero married woman with two children and a dog. I live outside of Seattle. I play soccer. I am bad at tennis, can’t figure out accessories, and am sometimes painfully awkward at small talk. I’m an imperfect parent of two. I’m a Democrat married to a former Republican state senator. I often work in my jammies from home, guzzling lattes and blue Gatorade as I type. I’ll take whiskey over wine any day. I’ve worked as a house cleaner, waitress, freelance writer, political director, and now as an executive director and more. I sometimes do yoga when I’m stressed out. I also was born in Chicago and raised in Maryland. As a child, my cupboards weren’t always full, my family of origin was never “nuclear,” and the close people in my early life weren’t all heteronormative.
I’m flawed—far from perfect. I screw up regularly but persist just the same.
And each and every day I fight for a modern women’s movement that doesn’t center around women who look exactly like me, knowing that our fight and movement must be different than it has been in the past.
What Woke Me Up
To be completely honest, I assumed that most of the fights for women’s rights were over and that we had won, until I became a mom. I couldn’t have been more wrong. When my son was born in 1996, he was diagnosed with an immune deficiency disorder that made it impossible for him to be in childcare with other kids. A minor cold for other kids often meant a hospital trip and nerve-racking, wheezing weeks of illness. At the time, I didn’t have access to any paid family/medical leave, so I had to quit my job to care for my son. In the process, I lost not only my income but also my employer-provided health care coverage.
I never expected to be an unemployed mom. My mom, who was single for most of my childhood, always said to never, ever, ever, ever rely on a partner in order to have food on the table. But there I was, relying on a husband for food on the table, a roof over our heads, health care, and more. It was lucky there were resources to get my son and, later, my daughter the health care they needed when I couldn’t work. But an unplanned out-of-work situation like that could have been a flat-out disaster for my own mother or for more than three-quarters of moms who are breadwinners in our nation. Luck alone should never determine whether a woman, child, and family can thrive. Yet too often it does for too many. More than 80 percent of women have children in their lifetimes,1 a quarter of families with young children in America are living in poverty,2 and having a baby is now one of the leading causes of poverty. Being a mom is now a greater predictor of wage and hiring discrimination than being a woman, and the wages of moms of color take the biggest hits. These are all signals that the fight for intersectional women’s rights isn’t over.3
In truth I’ve had many wake-up calls (some at two a.m., eyes blinking in the darkness, baby crying) about how very much we need a new kind of women’s movement. This new movement needs to center the voices, the power, and the leadership of moms, of women of color, of women with disabilities, of LGBTQ+ women, of women of all ages and religions, of women of all income levels, and of women who are often denied chairs at the power tables. It was these many wake-up calls that led me to co-found MomsRising in 2006.
I now serve as executive director of that organization and work with a brilliant team of women across the nation, and none of us are exactly alike. I am led by and learn from the women at MomsRising. Our team is Black, Asian, Latina, white, queer, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and more. Together we’ve built an intersectional organization that works across multiple policy areas at the same time, within a core framework of justice for women, mothers, and families. We’ve pushed each other to grow our individual ideas about gender, racial, economic, LGBTQ+, and disability justice. Together we build campaigns that will make all women in America and families stronger. Together we rise.
How We Move Forward
To build a truly intersectional movement, we have to touch base with where we’ve been. Women of color have played major roles advancing the rights of women in our nation’s history, and women of color have often led the way. But much of that work has, historically, been ignored or erased. Gloria Steinem recently reiterated this during an interview with Chelsea Handler. “It’s condescending to say make the movement inclusive; women of color are the movement and have always been the movement.”4 Case in point, a 1972 national poll conducted by Ms. magazine—a magazine Steinem helped to launch—found that while over 60 percent of women of color supported feminism and women’s equality issues at the time, only around 30 percent of white women supported those same issues at that time.5 Women of color were leading the way in 1972 (before then, too) and still are today. In fact, the leadership of women of color has long propelled the entire women’s movement forward.
Make no mistake: Gender justice is economic justice is racial justice. One doesn’t happen without the others. It’s time for all of us to stand together with each other and for each other’s rights in a new kind of women’s movement. When we speak about women’s issues, we must speak to issues that impact every woman—not just the issues that impact able-bodied, middle-class, cis, and straight white women. We need to embrace that we don’t all have to define things in precisely the same way, see ourselves reflected in all of other people’s experiences, or be exactly the same in order to celebrate each other as we fight for the same outcome. And we must do this not just because this is the right thing to do, but also because we can’t win anyone’s freedom without fighting for everyone’s freedom.
“It’s the old thing of I’m not free until my sister is free,” said Sarah Sophie Flicker of the Women’s March. “Our role is to show up for each other and protect each other. We are kept separate to keep us all down. When we don’t show up for each other and don’t acknowledge each other, and when my privilege pushes down my sisters, we can’t win. We can’t win until we all show up for each other.”
Sarah’s right. Our goal is simple: We all win when we all win.
Anything that hurts one of us hurts all of us. In order to build a strong women’s movement, we have to have one another’s backs—especially when a discriminatory policy doesn’t impact every single one of us in our daily lives, but impacts so many of our sisters. An intersectional approach, like the one in this book, covers many policies that have often been left out of the mainstream women’s movement agenda in the past. For example, mass incarceration and the fair treatment of immigrant families are covered in chapters 12 and 10, respectively, right along with fair pay (chapter 11) and reproductive rights (chapter 7). The policy platform in this book isn’t centered on a single issue, and neither are any of us in real life.
All of the issues in this book deeply affect women across our nation—along with everyone else. And, speaking of everyone else, it’s high time people in power stop telling women that the issues that are destroying our lives and dreams aren’t priorities in our country. The truth is, when this many people are having the same struggles at the same time, that’s a national issue that we must solve together—not an epidemic of personal failings.
Mistakes Are Necessary
Building an intersectional movement requires being curious and compassionate about all the issues women face and how to break down those barriers. It requires us to imagine ourselves in one another’s worlds. And it requires us to consider not only the issues we’re dealing or have dealt with, but also those in the lives of people who have had very different experiences.
Building an intersectional movement also requires that we each make mistakes.
As a longtime organizer for women’s rights, I’ve made many mistakes and had many failures due to my blinders along the way. Too many to count, in fact. I’ve said the wrong thing; done the wrong thing; been embarrassed; second-, third-, and fourth-guessed myself. I’ve also been thankful to have my mistakes pointed out so that I can do better—and this has helped me to play a role in more wins than I ever expected.
For instance, in 2009 I was onstage at George Washington University for the Feminism 2.0 Conference. During my talk I addressed the average wage gap for women overall and mentioned that moms experienced even more discrimination when it comes to pay. After I was done, Shireen Mitchell, founder of Digital Sisters/Sistas Inc. and Stop Online Violence Against Women, raised her hand and asked: “What about women of color? The numbers you shared don’t reflect women of color. You left us out.”
My stomach dropped. I was mortified. I’d hit one of my own blind spots. My own implicit, unconscious bias was center stage. I should have known better. I had inadvertently repeated history. My mortification in that moment was nothing compared to decades of women of color being forgotten or erased. (Historically, white feminists have often failed to incorporate how structural racism permeates everything that has to do with sexism as does classism, homophobia, and other isms, too, for that matter.)
This may seem like not a big deal: I left women of color out of my presentation. So what? But it was a big deal. Shireen Mitchell was rightly pointing out that women of color had even further to climb to achieve parity in pay with white men than white women did. Which means that I left an entire group of women out of my data, out of my presentation, and out of sight.
It wasn’t Shireen’s job to call me out that day in 2009, and while it was a moment of public failure, I’m forever grateful to her for it. The reason I share this story is because sometimes people tell me they’re afraid to get involved because they may accidentally do or say something wrong. But it’s important not to let fear stop us from joining in. Nobody is perfect in anything we do. It’s time to give each other grace, lift one another up, and accept that if we’re truly building the best kind of movement for our nation, then we’ll be uncomfortable and make mistakes at least some of the time, and that if we listen, learn, and work together, we will rise together.
The Internal Fight against Discrimination
"Keep Marching is the book we all need to remind us why the fight against white supremacy and patriarchy will actually set us free. Kristin's enthusiasm jumps through the pages. We are all lucky to have this book during a painful time in America."
—Patrisse Khan-Cullors, New York Times bestselling author of When They Call You a Terrorist
- "Keep Marching, by the fierce and fearless Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, is a perfect primer for women everywhere who want to take action - whether you're heading to your first town hall meeting or running for office. With wit and clarity, she covers everything from reproductive rights to maternal mortality to mass incarceration, including a powerful and much-needed call to action for white women to step up and do our part in the fight for justice. Keep Marching is not only a how-to manual; it's a celebration of women's power, progress, and potential to change the world."—Cecile Richards, New York Times bestselling author of Make Trouble and President of Planned Parenthood
"Within every woman lies the power to spark a movement, and Keep Marching provides each of us with the tools and the inspiration we need to unleash our full potential. This extraordinary book can teach an entire generation of women-from every background-how to organize, mobilize, and catalyze a 21st century revolution for true equality."
—Neera Tanden, President, Center for American Progress
"Keep Marching is a powerful call to action for women everywhere-whether you're a seasoned organizer or someone who's getting involved for the first time. As Kristin [states], 'women can lift our nation.' Practical and inspirational guides like this will help us make it happen."
—Anna Galland, Executive Director, Moveon.org Civic Action
"Keep Marching is an energizing roadmap, taking our focus from what we're up against [to] a vision that [allows] all women and families to live well. [This book shows] us how by working together and supporting one another, we can truly get there."
—Ai-jen Poo, Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance
"[A] must-read for new activists. I highly recommend picking up this hands-on guide full of the concrete information, an intersectional agenda, and a step-by-step action plan for every woman looking to make tangible change in their communities."
—Bob Bland, National Co-President, Women's March on Washington
"Keep Marching is a profound call to action for women seeking to overturn injustice and stand together. Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner reminds us of what we're really fighting for."
—Leah Greenberg, Co-director, Indivisible
"Keep Marching is the 'cookbook' for activism that so many women (and all people who support them) in America need. Whether you care about paid leave, equal pay, criminal justice reform or immigration policy - or all of the above - this book will speak to you. Keep Marching makes absolutely clear that the time for us to band together - to listen, to plan, to organize and to act - is now."
—Vicki Shabo, Vice President, National Partnership for Women & Families
"Keep Marching is a groundbreaking manifesto. It's a book that every woman should read-full of compelling research and data that can change the world."
—Fatima Goss Graves, President, National Women?s Law Center
"This book is a must-read for anyone who is curious about how to join the next feminist revolution. Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner does us the immense favor of breaking down the language, the ideas and the tactics that work."
"For anyone wanting to move up the ladder of engagement, to graduate from marches and rallies to strategy and planning, from activist to organizer, use this book as a field guide."
- "For the days when you feel as if you've done all you can, there's... Keep Marching, which will give you ideas on how you can keep on keeping on in the fight for radical change."—Bustle
- On Sale
- May 1, 2018
- Page Count
- 336 pages
- Legacy Lit