After what was a fairly big bummer for a couple of liberals (inauguration day), we went to the Women's March on Washington. We left at approximately the same time as we had the day before, but from our first stop, we could tell that the day was going to be drastically different.
The line at the bagelshop by the metro was extensive - it wrapped around the shop to the outside. The line at the Starbucks next to it was similarly lengthy. All different kinds of people were ordering breakfast, most of them armed with signs and pink hats. Rachel and I were already excited - it was going to be an interesting day.
The delay at the bagleshop held us up, but we got to the train at roughly the same time as the day before. We squeezed on, surprised to find that no seats were available and we had to work to stand together. It was packed. Every age was represented and the car was a buzz with energy. Little girls in princess crowns and elderly women with their nasty woman shirts. Everyone was enthusiastic - it was palpable. Rachel and I eagerly snapchatted the experience for our friends back home, most of who were gearing up for the marches in their cities.
The place was so packed that we had to wait to get out of the metro and then all crammed on the same, small escalator. Pink hats and fluffy coats - we were making our way to the march. Outside of Union Station, we saw thousands of people eagerly making their way. Some stands were selling t shirts and totes, posters and buttons. There were even make your own sign stands that gave you all the supplies for a sign in exchange for a donation to Planned Parenthood.
Rachel and I pushed our way through the crowd, towards the center of the mall. As far as we could see, we were surrounded by thousands of people. We could see a big screen, where the performers and presenters were, but we couldn't hear them. We participated in some cheers as the crowd grew restless, and eventually helped lead the push to start the march.
We followed a drum band, which was incredibly fun. Especially when a drum circle erupted in the middle of the march. People started dancing, singing whatever they felt, making music with water bottles and signs. It was a blast.
As we marched, different cheers erupted through the crowds. My favorite was one that was started by the allies - "Her body, her choice!", and then higher voices would cadence back together, "My body, my choice!" For me, that one was particularly powerful, to hear the support from people who probably wouldn't be personally affected by harsher legislation on women's reproductive rights. To hear their voices cadence.. It was powerful.
There were other cheers too. The march attempted to be as intersectional as possible, and the cheers tended to reflect that goal. "Black Lives Matter", "Hey hey! Ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!", all swept through the crowds.
One of my friends, a talented photojournalist named Julie Griffith, covered the inauguration the day before, and said that the women's march was like a "big, pink band aid" on the day before's wounds. And it was. It was a beautiful day for healing and rallying together.
While my friends from art school have seen their social media feeds fill up with articles shared about the lack of intersectionality and the concerns with the organizers of this march, which you can get a taste of with this New Yorker article by Jia Tolentino, I've been seeing articles and Facebook posts about how this march was unnecessary, how it was demeaning to men, how it was personally offensive to women everywhere. I want to have these lofty conversations, these academic discussions about how we can continue to push feminism towards a more intersectional, more inclusive place. But how can I, when so many of my peers believe that feminism is offensive??
So to these women, I hope you'll understand how serious and true it is when I tell you that you are not equal to white men. It is plain and simple. You are not their equal. You never have been.
I could spout off information about the wage gap, professional opportunities, sexism in institutions, and even show you some quotes from your president in reference to women. They wouldn't surprise you, I'm sure. You've heard it all. You've seen it all. And you've experienced it. You've experienced the lower pay, you've missed out on opportunities. You've experienced sexism in school or sports. You've heard Trump's words. Maybe you think that that's not about your gender. But these are not isolated events. You and millions of women, here and abroad, are fighting to be taken seriously as equals. You should join us.
This march was not useless. Just as the marches and protests that earned the right for women to vote, the right to work, the right to own property, the right to open a bank account without their husband or father or brother's consent were not useless.. This march aimed to unify people together, to tell President Trump that we will continue to fight for our rights, to show that we will not go silently in the night. It was a peaceful, powerful protest.
I encourage you to look at the Mission and Vision of the Women's March and see what they aimed for. It will help orient this march in loftier visions and grand goals. It's not something that happens in a day, but hopefully, we can get closer in our lifetimes.
One day at a time - together.