The day after Trump’s inauguration, I went to the Women’s March on Washington.
I’m not sure if I would have gone to the local one if I was home in Houston, but I felt like the DC gathering was a movement I needed to see since I was there.
I’ve seen some media that I respect (obviously not too mainstream) portray the march as a solely anti-Trump, pro-abortion rally featuring deranged women terrorizing the streets of DC. While there was certainly a lot of distain for Trump and his big, dangerous mouth there (especially from the celebrity speakers who I couldn’t actually hear from my location and have yet to watch as I don’t need their opinions to inform my own), on the ground, this isn’t what the main point seemed to be.
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From my perch on the wall outside the National Museum of the American Indian, it seemed like a nuanced confirmation of sisterhood.
It was so crowded that I left early, as I began to grow nervous due to the apparent lack of escape route if attacks like those in Nice or Berlin were to occur, but as I made my way out of the crowd, taking nearly 30 minutes to go a quarter block, none of the women around me were pushing. Everyone was chatty, smiling, helping each other, and making new friends.
I saw babies with their dads. Grandmothers and granddaughters. Black women. Native Americans lifting their voices in a rallying cry for indigenous rights (although it seems like these women were not wholly respected at the march. Please read Sydne Gray’s account of her experience here.)
The overall peacefulness of the march (and the general lack of litter. While I did see overflowing trashcans, the trash was mainly stacked neatly to either side) could have contributed to the zero arrests made, the fact that the event was coded white from the beginning was likely the biggest factor. You can read more about this, and other valid criticisms of the march, from Oneika the Traveler’s perspective here.
And while the “official organizers” of the march excluded major causes and demographics that I really care about as a Christian woman, unofficially, woman-to-woman down in the crowd, we actually all had a lot in common.
The majority of the women in my area seemed to be over at least 40, and, from what I could gather, were not are much protesting Trump, as his position is currently unchangeable, but rather reminding the community how far women have come and that we refuse to give up the rights we’ve fought for.
These women were old enough to be working and raising families before Titles IX and X. Before martial rape laws were on the books. Before Lily Ledbetter. Before the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Before the Newsweek lawsuit. Before Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Supreme Court justice – when women had no say in our nation’s highest court.
These were the women who fought so that I could be born with these rights. And they are not done yet, as many of our POC and LGBT sisters have been left behind.
(For a quick look at a timeline of women’s rights in America – click here.)
While there were white women there old enough to have mothers and grandmothers who could not vote in America, there were black women there who could have been denied that right themselves before the Civil Rights Movement, while they experienced the other horrible byproducts at the intersection of sexism and racism.
Like, as my Lyft driver reminded me, having illegal interracial marriages only a generation before.
“If I was my grandfather, my father even,” he said,” it would have been illegal for my wife to be with me here in Virginia.”
I’m only 23 and my own father was already a senior in high school before interracial marriage was federally legal. I was 21 myself before everyone’s marriages were federally legal.
And although American women may have been predominantly featured “officially” at the DC march, as the election was the catalyst for the movement, the safety and advancement of women globally were ideas that were present and discussed within earshot of me continuously, as well as, I assume, around the world.
The ideologies, participation, and execution of both the official and unofficial aspects of the Women’s March on Washington were flawed.
But progress always is.
To find out more about legal issues facing women today, please click here.
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