The Women’s March (Synopsis One Month Later)

On January 21st 2017, we had the  Women’s March happen. People from all walks of life came out in droves to support women’s right.

The reason why I decided to write about the March almost a month later is because when I read the news now, we are currently dealing with leaks and ties with Russia and levels of ignorance about Africa and snubs at the Grammys. There was also a rally about Pro-birth ( yeah they aren’t pro life) and watching of some lawmakers in certain states ( Texas and Oklahoma looking at you) who want to either send women to jail for abortions or make men be part of the choice if a woman gets one. After all one lawmaker only sees women as a “host” to carry a baby for about 10 months of their lives. That’s right a host.

I decided to reach out to three of my friends who are from from different ethnic backgrounds who actually went to the marches. ( I know many people of different ethnicities due to respecting the ethnicity while learning about the person). I listed each person’s occupation just to show they have different jobs in different areas and yet can come together for a good cause.

First up is Mariel. She  is a young filipino woman who is currently on the board for a Filipino grassroots youth organization.

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Credit: Ugnayan Youth For Justice and Social Change
Below are her questions and answers

What were thoughts when you were on your way to the march?
On the way to the march, I was traveling with a group from two grassroots organizations, one in which I so happen to be board of. My thoughts during the commute to the city were very empowering thoughts, wanting to take my anger and frustration against the new President and use it to fuel myself and others around me to actively take lead during the protest. Being surrounded on the subway by many others also heading to the march, it gave us all a bit of solidarity as we admired each other’s signs and sparked conversation on how to stay safe and watch out/take care of each other.
Did you feel empowered to stand up for women and human rights ? 
Being surrounded by the groups and energy around me, leading and joining in on chants to physically have our voices heard amongst the crowd definitely made me feel empowered to stand for women and human rights. One voice is one person’s energy, and uniting all those voices in one space is a reminder that we are all there for one common cause.
What was the energy like in the city? 
The energy in the city was something I hadn’t felt before in a very long time. There was a high buzz of energy everywhere around me, people not being afraid to make noise and garner attention and their dissatisfaction at what Democracy didn’t seem to light on. My favorite chant my friend picked up and led at one point, “Tell me what Democracy looks like, this is what Democracy looks like”. Because we the people are not afraid to show our dissatisfaction and anger.
Any thoughts from your family about going ?
My parents and brother only told me to ‘be safe’ which is something I already knew to take precaution of. While this is not my first march, they only assume the worst of these things, unfortunately.
What did you take away from the march?
From every march and protest I always aim to take at least something new from each action. It started with actually having to DEFEND the meaning of why we had a women’s march in the first place. It became more commonplace for people to talk down about marches and protesting because ‘women already have the right to vote’ when in reality, these rights no longer may be safe. There are still a number of rights concerning a woman’s body and health that are still sadly, under debate and the control of MALE politicians and representatives.
How will your activism increase now that you don’t have gone? 
My own activism works are definitely going to increase, especially in my daily life in working on educating my coworkers who constantly tell me to ‘respect their beliefs’ when they do not want to accept how oppressive those beliefs are to others. I also intend on attending more marches and protests that are bound to be organized throughout the year. From the women’s march alone, you can see that the power of the people is one that cannot be ignored.
Do you feel their should be more solidarity in the groups?
As a poc, queer, and non binary individual, I feel that solidarity should be more of a priority with the different kinds of people who’d shown up to the Women’s march that need to be present at more protests and actions. Intersectional feminism is the feminism I feel we should all be aiming to represent, so that voices are not divided into categories and left unheard. I noticed around me that as my friend from DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving) was leading chants, the white women around us remained silent, though they watched on and smiled. It made me feel uncomfortable, but that did not keep me from chanting myself. No matter who is leading action in a protest or march, they should be fully supported by those around them no matter their race. The only thing that separated my friend from the women around us, was that she was not white.
How has your mindset changed (if it has)?
My mindset has remained relatively the same as I’d felt going into the march. I do think now that I’ve seen the separation between women and those who support feminism in different ways, there needs to be a wall broken so that we all work towards and understand a feminism that truly benefits all women and not isolate and divide those coming from all sorts of different life paths and backgrounds. Otherwise, feminism will only come to benefit few and not everyone who is fighting to have their voices heard amongst the masses.

The  next up is Nicholas or Nick. He is currently an interior designer and  clothing designer. NIck was kind enough to provide images from the march of which he took himself.

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Thanks so much for your questions and for including me in the greater discussion regarding equality in this country and the world.  I was very excited to be involved in the Women’s March which occurred in over 60 countries and ultimately warranted zero arrests.  It really was a beautiful demonstration of the power of peaceful protest and free speech.
 The Women’s March on Washington D.C. became a movement, the scale of which I don’t think anyone anticipated.  I know the event planners were not anticipating such a large crowd in D.C. and at one point the local news stations were broadcasting stories implying that the march would have to be postponed or cancelled due to the permits registered not covering the size of the crowd.  I didn’t know until after the March on Washington D.C. concluded that there were over five-hundred thousand participants at the D.C. protest alone which was more than double the expected amount.
Before the March began, when everyone was queued up in the street standing shoulder to shoulder with really nowhere to go and very little breathing room.  At one point while we were waiting for the auxiliary permits to go through, the crowd was getting restless and every few minutes someone would start chanting “March, March, March” and then scores of people would join in.  I could feel the tension building in the crowd but we all understood, deep down, that it wasn’t about getting from the starting point to the destination (the White House, and The Mall in front of The Washington Monument) it was about being in the same place, marching together, for the same causes and being there for the people would couldn’t be there.
 I got the sense that we were all there together, that the march was going to be one of those moments in history that would be remembered for solidarity and it felt like a true merging of different groups.  It was really amazing to be a part of something that is bigger than “me”. There was representation and solidarity shown for a multitude of causes including Women’s health and reproductive rights, Women’s equality, LGBTQA equality, Black Lives Matter, People of color, Immigration reform, climate change, Religious freedom, Political causes, non-gender-binary individuals, and countless other marginalized groups all came out to support one another and I found it exhiliarating, energizing even.  Even though I had been up since 2:30 that morning, by the time we started marching 12 hours later, I felt great.

Below are the questions and answers

What will be your next step after the march? 
     My next steps after the march have been talking about it- remembering it, and telling all my friends about it.  I have been actively sharing photos on my instagram, facebook and twitter accounts of the protest.  I have been emailing friends and family about my experience at the Women’s March on Washington D.C. about my experience and I have been urging others to exercise their freedom of speech and freedom to peacefully assemble to enact change.
I have also emailed people in Washington D.C. petitioning them to investigate the current presidential administration to uncover conflicts of interest.  Not only do I disagree with the administration’s stance on a Woman’s Right to Choose, but I also object to the business dealings and backroom deals the president is being less than transparent about.
     We need to remember the magnitude of our actions and work to repeat our efforts- The March on Washington D.C. was a peaceful protest not only in Washington D.C. but throughout the world.  It was done in solidarity but it was not frivolous- it was done to effect change and is up to me and others who marched (and others who did not) to effect such change.
  My aim in the coming months and years will be to participate in more of these marches, more of these acts of solidarity for other marginalized groups and to talk about it. There is strength in numbers and we don’t necessarily need to make shows of strength or be destructive to show our full power.  I fully intend to participate more actively and more openly to denounce injustice, and inequality when I see it.  I cannot take for granted the rights of myself or any other marginalized demographic given the current president and how his being in power has emboldened bigotry, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.   
Have you felt an energy in New York vibrating from the march?
     New York City, being a bastion of liberal ideals and a safe-haven for marginalized individuals, has been particularly restless.  Even before the Election in November, protesters for and against Trump had been rallying in midtown.  Now, with streets blocked off around the area that the president and his family live when not in D.C. there have been people protesting across the street from his building and whole mobs of people have organized on occasion to show solidarity against the elected official.
     I think, for as polarizing as the election this past November was, this presidency is even more divisive.  One really gets the sense that America is becoming a “you or me” kind of environment and I am glad to be living in New York City which has been, historically, Democratic and fairly liberal.  I have seen a comradery develop between people- some groups get together to send postcards to their senators, some have become friends and comrades on the picket line protesting, some just commiserate over drinks at the neighborhood bar.
 
Are you compelled to be more or an activist or in general increase your levels of voluntarism?
     Yes, definitely.  With regards to Women’s issues definitely.  Everyone has a mother, so everyone should be concerned with Women’s Equality.  I have many friends who are women, many coworkers, and acquaintances.  I want them to be afforded every option that a man has afforded to him every day.  I don’t think it’s right that women can’t decide for themselves on certain reproductive issues such as abortion.  I don’t think it’s right that women’s birth control costs are about to go through the roof with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  I don’t think it’s right that in some states women’s hygiene products such as tampons and maxi pads are taxed at a higher margin or “luxury tax” as if there is anything luxurious about them.
 Even I, as a gay man, am concerned with my rights- my rights to marry who I want are in jeopardy which then affect the very foundations of equality are at stake with this ridiculous First Amendment defense act which would make it possible for business owners to deny service to people of color, gay, trans people or people of differing religious affiliations all under the guise of “religious freedom”.  If that’s not political, I don’t know what is and, the last time I checked, there was supposed to be a separation of Church and State in this country.
 
Are there any groups you felt should have shown more solidarity? 
    I think the protest was a huge success.  I think it is a deeply personal thing to protest one’s country and so people do so in their own way.  At first, I was worried that, due to the pepper spray and the riots the day before, that there would be a violent backlash from the police and security at the protest- I expect that some people probably didn’t come for that reason because of all the issues that happened the day before (for the inauguration).
  I was impressed that so many groups came out in support of the March- I was incredibly moved when I saw a white man holding a sign that said “Boys will be held accountable” and a whole group of women and men of different backgrounds holding “Black Lives Matter” signs and marching as one. There were groups Pink “Lady Liberty” and SO SO many “Pink Pussy Hats” and a whole pride-parade of rainbow flags Equality signs.
 
 
What do you think should be the next step? 
     The next step for me has already begun- I have been emailing people in Washington, I have been spreading the word about the Women’s March on Washington and the success of the rally and peaceful protest.  I am also planning on supporting and attending the National Pride March in D.C. as well as the Scientists March on Washington D.C.
     I think everyone should join in if they have an interest.  Contact your Senators and representation in Congress; tell them what YOU want as a citizen.  Write to your local government and vote for representation that will benefit everyone.  Mayors, city council members, local government all the way up to Washington- we are a government by the people, for the people.  
Finally, I think people should protest (peacefully) if they feel like they should.  Speak out for others without a voice, speak for yourself, speak up, speak loudly and speak often.  How else will you ever be heard?
How have your closest friends reacted about the march?
There has been a tremendous outpouring of support from the friends I surround myself with.  Even some acquaintances have been impressed that I went to Washington for such an historic event which they, of course, watched on the news.  My closest friend marched with me (and he was the one who told me about it ) many of my old friends from college were all in Washington D.C. at the same time I was- but the scale of the event was SO large that we couldn’t use our Cell Phones to find one-another, hardly anyone had service!
 
 
Has your family said anything about the march?
My family, by in large, are Trump Supporters.  My younger sister is the only exception to this and I’d like to think that she is proud of me.  Even if she isn’t she is one of my reasons for marching for Women’s Equality.

Last but certainly not least is Vanessa. She is an Academic Advisor and Adjunct Professor.


 

What was in your mind when you decided to go to the march?
This was a no brainer for me.  I first heard about the potential for a March right after the election.  I was feeling very defeated and deflated and was trying to come to terms with the results.  As soon as the date was announced, I put the date on my calendar.
Did you know you wanted to go alone or with someone? 
I was ok going alone.  This was very much a personal march for me, a personal cause.  It turned out that  one of my sisters was taking a bus down from Connecticut.  At that point I knew I wouldn’t be alone πŸ™‚ and it was a great feeling.
What were you thoughts when you first arrived? 
I was blown away by the sea of people.  This actually started when I boarded the train to get to downtown DC.  The closer we got, the more crowded the trains got.  And once I got off the train, my mouth dropped.  I felt like I was watching the beginning of a movement.
What was the energy there?
  Charged, like electricity.  And I think sheer shock at the fact that there were SO many people out there.
Were you overwhelmed by the people there?
Not overwhelmed per se. Thrilled and joyous are better terms for how I was feeling.
What speech touched you the most?
I didn’t get the chance to see the speeches while I was there (too many people to even get close to the stage) but later I saw America Ferrera’s speech.  Everything she said resonated with me.
What did it inspire in you? 
A sense of activism that I hadn’t felt since college.  This sense that I wasn’t the only one who was feeling despair and uncertainty.  It was thrilling to be with so many other people who had similar (and some dissimilar) reasons for being there.
What causes will you support actively?
Planned parenthood (abortion and reproductive rights), refugee resettlement, hunger, and animal rescue organizations.
Are there any you will support passively?  No. πŸ™‚
These three people all from different backgrounds came together to help unite for a cause. Because of what is going on in this country is turmoil and strife , people want to guarantee that these rights that most of us have only be recently been given stays throughly intact. We still have work ahead of us so though this march may be done, the war continues. 
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