On Saturday more than 3.3 million people in the US alone joined Women’s Marches in cities across the country (5 million total worldwide!) in support of a fearlessly progressive agenda to protect civil and human rights for all including immigrants, safegaurd reproductive rights and access to affordable healthcare, close the wage gap between men and women, reform legislation which has a disproportionately negative impact on people of diverse racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, and support pro-environmental legislation. An obnoxious albeit accurate article published in The Guardian last week claimed the March was purely symbolic and without concrete measures in place would go the way of Occupy Wall Street. This op-ed is a response to that assertion, along with some badass pics taken with the disposable camera I brought to D.C.
The author of that Guardian article seemingly didn’t peruse the Women’s March website long enough to read our marching orders for the next 100 days, but here they are for your reference. I talked to dozens of women in the streets of D.C. on Saturday and found one prevailing theme – none of them had ever participated in a protest or any other form of political activism before beyond voting. The March was their indoctrination into grassroots activism, listening to iconic activist veterans like Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, and Michael Moore was a lesson in the language used to demand socio-political change. Dancing in the streets with hundreds of thousands of other like-minded people showed that activism can be fun, and the lack of arrests and friendly exchanges I witnessed between protestors and law enforcement also indicated that we can be rebellious and responsible at the same time.
In the us vs. them narrative President Trump (vomits) proffers the American people, we’re either a victim or a victimizer – the March taught me to be neither. Instead, I’ve decided to identify as an advocate for sanity. And in rooting myself in that role, I found myself avoiding trigger words when conversing with Trump-ets on the streets of D.C. (a term my family and I lovingly coined to describe his supporters, some of the other words we were using weren’t so nice). Instead of using the words ‘threat of global warming’ I referred to it as ‘my fear of destructive climate change,’ and when asked by the Trump-ets why I believe in the threat, I softened my tone and deferred to science. These same Trump-ets demanded to know how I could possibly be worried about the planet while countless pregnancies are being terminated every year, and I told them my beliefs on the matter. I also told them I’m not an expert and would never expect my personal beliefs on something as philosophical as the beginning of human life to be made into law. I never once used the word abortion and insisted we all acknowledge that we would probably not agree on this particular matter. The exchange ended quite positively.
When one Trump-et called us (the Marchers) ‘disgusting sluts,’ my mom had the perfect, advocate-for-sanity-driven comeback: “That hate is coming from your mouth.” It was a completely disarming, truthful, and sane response that shut down what could have been an extremely emotional interaction. My mom, her three sisters, and all our female cousins marched together in D.C. and it was a transformative experience – not because we specifically accomplished any one thing by marching that day, but because we saw how many like-minded people are out there ready to take action and we realized our power. It was the opposite of the despair so many of us felt right after the election, our numbers and peaceful conduct are proof that we can positively impact the laws and policies that shape our country and the world. In the immortal words of Barack Obama, “Change only happens when ordinary people get involved and get engaged.”
To the snarky Guardian writer I mentioned in the beginning – many ordinary people don’t know how to get involved with socio-political activism and engage others on the issues they care about, but the March was critical to educate and galvanize those ordinary people. Let’s not forget the Women’s March on Washington was started by a perfectly ordinary person! Her name is Teresa Shook and she’s the grandma of four girls and a retired attorney from Hawaii, she made a Facebook post after the election asking, “What if women marched on Washington around Inauguration Day en masse?” Then she created an event page and shared it with her friends, when she went to bed that night 40 women had already RSVPed. When she woke up the next morning that number was surpassing 10,000.
Fast forward to January 21, 2017, when millions of women worldwide were in the streets and OG activists like Melanie Campbell, Linda Sardour, and Jane Fonda were speaking to those crowds alongside the new guard of young celeb activists like America Ferrera and Miley Cyrus. Now this movement, started by an ordinary person, has enlisted the expertise of those experienced activists to design and execute a plan of action, and the Women’s March network is now the mouthpiece issuing marching orders to the millions of people who are ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the liberties we’ve taken for granted in America for so long.
Enjoy this Disposables gallery of beautiful faces stoked to be fighting the good fight with and for the people they love, all we can do is hope for the best, plan for the worst, and make sure we have a killer soundtrack on tap regardless.