As part of the Title IX generation, I too often take for granted the great strides achieved by and for women before I was born. My own life story would have been impossible had I come into this world a handful of decades earlier. Georgetown University accepted women in its College of Arts and Sciences for the first time in 1969, a mere nine years before I was born. The Boston Marathon didn’t allow women to participate until 1972. Ropes & Gray named its first female partner in 1973. By the time I entered the Healy Gates in 1996, ran my first Boston in 2011, and became a partner at my “white shoe” law firm in 2015, I wasn’t remotely a trailblazer–just a nice kid, with big goals, who worked hard.
What struck me during election season, and has stuck with me since, is that we women still have a ways to go. With the presidential debates, “mansplaining” became part of our lexicon. What men talk about in the locker room spilled over into public discourse. And that final glass ceiling for American women, President of the United States, seems to be indestructible plexiglass fixed to our firmament.
I have dealt with pigs. I have experienced the tragedy too many women have suffered of remaining silent, and burying deeply within us the bad behaviors of powerful men, not trusting that we would be believed or that our own reputations would survive. I daily walk that tightrope between being assertive and being deemed a B. I am asked and expected to do things well below my pay grade that my male colleagues are not. Fellow women, also short on sleep, judge my time-saving ponytail. Embarrassingly, I sometimes understate my accomplishments so I don’t scare away potential suitors. But for so many woman, particularly women of color, those without immigration status, and low-wage workers, the inequality and the inappropriate treatment they face daily is devastatingly worse. Unequal pay, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and straight-up discrimination in work and at school and in their communities. Too often, these women are disproportionately shouldering family responsibilities to boot.
Friday was really hard. I took part of the day off to help with citizenship applications. I hoped it would lift my spirits, but the cold, gray, raw Boston day matched my heavy mood. My regular work day then started mid-afternoon and didn’t finish until close to midnight. Clients and colleagues, neighbors walking their dogs, everyone seemed snippy and cheerless.
Saturday morning, my alarm went off at 5:35 and my battlegear went on: running clothes, sneakers, and a watch. I stuffed my pockets with Gu, tissues, and 20 bucks and stuck some KT tape on my hip flexor. Off to Hopkinton with Joe at the wheel and Becca and me guzzling Starbucks and cracking ourselves up with inauguration memes–George W. and the rain pancho, Melania giving Michelle her speech back, and Bill ogling Ivanka. So good.
My longest run since last March was 11 miles. Becca maybe had run 13 since the fall. But we had a mission, and we had each other. It’s one mile from the finish of the Boston marathon to the State House. 26.2 + 1.
Off we went and slowly chipped away at the miles. We talked about how proud we were of Becca’s mom who had taken a late-night bus to DC. We wondered what in particular was motivating women who aren’t overtly political (I’d put Becca and her mom in that camp) to march. We took breaks when we needed them, and the miles fell away. As we approached Boston, we saw more and more women with pink hats and so many men walking hand-in-hand with them. Right before turning onto Hereford Street, a sign with the letters V-A-G-I-N-A came into focus. We cracked up and kept chugging.
After a few selfies at the finish line on Boylston, we made our way to the Boston Common, paying tribute to the Public Garden ducklings in their pink hats along the way. Many hours into the march, the Common was still packed. Women and men, young and old, every color, race and creed. There we were, as Dr. King would say, “tied together in that single garment of destiny.” The sun was out and shining gloriously on our City upon a Hill.
Becca and I wanted to run that extra mile in honor of the women who endured so much so we could vote, so we could be a small-business owner and a law firm partner, so we could run the Boston marathon, so we could be loved and honored and respected the way that we are by our fathers and brothers and the many other good men in our lives. We also wanted to run the extra mile, one more than either of us has ever run, to honor the strength and commitment and hope that lies in each and every one of us to dig deep and persevere when all seems hopeless and there’s nothing left in the tank.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to each and every one of you who joined the women’s marches in person or in spirit. As it is said in the good book, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”