The Women’s March Was the First Step In an Even Longer Marathon

The Women’s March on Washington had a strong message to the new political leaders of America with millions of protesters across the world marching in solidarity.

by Anna Meyer
featured photo by Kate Kinkade

The Women’s March on Washington was a protest that began official organization in early November but has been in the making ever since President Donald Trump led a campaign ruled by political and personal values that disrespected women and intersecting identities. The march had a message that men, women and even youth that cannot vote yet could all get behind. Marchers gathered because of a common belief of “[standing] together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

 

Whether in the large gathering of 470,000+ in Washington or in self-organized marches in small towns, women marched all across the world alongside celebrities, politicians and others who were fed up with being discriminated against under the new administration.

 

As Joanna Demkiewicz planned to march in Minneapolis, MN, she did so because she didn’t want her country to go down the path that Trump’s America is currently headed towards. “I will be marching in the Women’s March Minnesota because the America that Trump envisions is not an inclusive America. It is our constitutional right to protest threats to our rights, our health, our safety, our humanity; I think the verbiage is that we have the “right…to petition the government for a redress of grievances. And the grievances are vast,” she said last week.

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St. Paul, MN. Photo by Joanna Demkiewicz

 

Demkiewicz has concerns over an America without Planned Parenthood, nor a press, nor national endowments of arts and humanities, an America in which immigrants are not welcome and an America in which hate crimes are on the rise. “An America that does not trust women is not a better America. An America with an inexperienced, narcissistic, sexist, sexual assaulter, proven liar, bully for a leader at its helm is not a better America.”

 

Alison Becker marched in New York City proud to be wearing one of the pink pussy hats (pink beanies with cat ears)  that were worn by many at the marches. “I’m marching because women’s rights are human rights and I’m especially proud of the intersectional platform the Women’s March has released. I remember speaking to my mom on the phone the day after the election and telling her I was scared. I’m done feeling scared and ready to organize and fight back and wear my pussy hat because I literally knitted the words PUSSY POWER on it!”

 

Some mothers and daughters (and even grandmothers!) saw the marches as a great way to get politically involved as a family, and made specific plans to travel to the marches as generational duos.

 

Amanda Jacobson marched in the Twin Cities as well, on the behalf of her experience as a woman; an experience that unfortunately sounds all too familiar for many women. She was motivated to march, in part, because of her experience with everyday instances of sexual assault. “Being asked by men dining at my current job who the manager is because it couldn’t possibly be me. It is,” she said. “Having my sexuality be questioned or assumed by closed-minded small town men because of my haircut. Being referred to as a “witch” by men in my workplace because I dare to demand respect. Being invisible. Being too visible.”

 

When I attended the Women’s March in Topeka, KS, the reasoning people had for attending was literally right in front of me — all I had to do was read their signs, which told stories laid in depth, love and fear; all encapsulated in a few words on poster boards. “Never Again” read one with a drawing of a clothing hanger. “I march for my wife and sisters” said another. “No one is free when others are oppressed” was held by my friend with pride.

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Topeka, KS. Photo by Anna Meyer

 

As a born and raised American who currently finds herself living in London, Kate Kinkade was able to experience the marches happening across the Atlantic and saw similar messages being displayed, held up high amongst the crowd. Signs like “Nasty Women Rise Up! Dump Trump!”, “Not a Hoax”, and “Je Suis Meryl” were all present. There was unity in the march’s message, one that resonated amongst people wanting their voices to be heard, no matter if they were in the U.S. or not.

London, England. Photo by Kate Kinkade.

 

Kinkade felt lucky to have attended the march. “My friends and I attended the Women’s March in London because we wanted to show our support for all of the minority groups within our community who may be feeling unsafe after the recent presidential inauguration. The event’s turnout was amazing, with almost 100,000 people showing up to march from the United States Embassy to Trafalgar Square. It was so cool to see the hard work and creativity that everyone put into their signs, chants and outfits – I am so proud of everyone who attended today’s march, and I feel so lucky to have been a part of such a welcoming and supportive event!”

 

This march was not just about the U.S., as emphasized by the Women’s March’s global organization. “Women’s March Global is a proactive international movement, not a U.S. election-specific protest per se, which has galvanized people to defend women’s rights and those of others in response to the rising rhetoric of far-right populism around the world.”

 

With representation in all seven continents, the message on women’s rights was heard loud and clear. The turnout in Washington alone was three times more than the turnout for Trump’s inauguration. Speakers representing women of color, women of disabilities, trans women, Muslim women and more came to remind everyone of the specific messages from intersecting identities that need to be listened to and acted upon.

 

Jacobson felt honored to have been a part of the historical day. “The march stretched on behind and in front of us farther than we could see. To be surrounded by the women and men willing and able to fight for those who cannot, to fight for themselves, to fight for their neighbors was inspiring to say the least. The feeling of hope was palpable. We held each other up. Women with their children offered their fellow marchers orange slices and snacks, water, a helping hand, or a clear path to walk through. Men marched behind women in nearly silent solidarity, giving the women around them the space and support to scream and demand their rights. For the first time since the election I didn’t feel small. I didn’t feel helpless. I didn’t feel ignored. I felt important, powerful, strong, solid, ready. To see how this spread all over the world brings tears to my eyes. I am so honored to have been part of this day and look forward to keeping this momentum going, all the way to the top.”

 

In Seattle, marcher Claire Butwinick was taken aback by the tone that the protesters set on Saturday’s marches. “Much of modern protests are rooted out of hatred and violence, but during the Women’s March all I saw were smiles and passionate posters,” she said. “As I walked alongside my fellow feminists, I was able to envision a future where love and compassion unite a movement, rather than anger.”

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Seattle, WA. Photo by Claire Butwinick

While the effects of the march are going to continue to unfold and inspire a nation that has now proven to one another that we’re willing to go out and put forth effort to see change, it’s now time to take a look at organizers who are encouraging the marchers not to stop here.  As beautifully put in an official statement released by the Women’s March’s organizers, “The Women’s March on Washington is just the first step; what comes after is up to us all.”

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Anna Meyer is The Riveter’s Digital Editorial Assistant. She is a Minneapolis native currently pursuing journalism and English at the University of Kansas. You’re most likely to catch her either pulling espresso shots at her morning job as a barista or writing down ideas for stories in her notebook. Follow her on Instagram (@annavmeyer) and stay updated with her work via her personal website.


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