To Join Or Not To Join: Reflections On The Women's March
One year ago, this country entered into new terrain: a Trump presidency. We were not sure what was ahead of us. We had no idea what our day-to-day lives would look like, and a lot of us were terrified. This country entered into an era where with a simple Twitter post, lives could be changed in an instant (remember the Transgender Ban in the military?), war could possibly be waged, and a text alert could signal a nuclear missile heading straight for us. There's been a change in the air, and it hasn't really settled with a lot of us yet. But, the day after the inauguration, a lot of us set out to do one thing: march. And, we did. More than a million people showed up to march in Washington, DC and thousands upon thousands marched in the streets of cities all across this country, and this world. In a lot of ways, it was an outpouring and a necessary coming together of all of us who felt lost and confused. What would happen to the rights of people of color? Anyone who has been marginalized? Reproductive freedom? What about science? Our earth? It was a time of extreme uncertainty, and we have not made our way out of it yet. But, on January 21st, 2017, we could do one thing, so we marched.
While it was a great day, the march was not without its issues. The march was initially supposed to be a march for women, but when one says women, that leaves out a whole lot of people who are angry and want to be heard. There was discussion about intersectionalism, as well as inclusivity, and how this should be a march for all, and not for a select few. To some, the Women's March wasn't for them, and didn't include them. So, not everyone marched, and not everyone needed to. Some people can't protest. Some can't get off work, and for some, crowds are an issue. But, it does remain a day that will go down in the books as a day when the collective voices of quite a lot of people were heard. And, it galvanized those of us who wanted to push through and keep making a difference.
With that in mind, here are some of the stories of why we at Cushy did and didn't march. We previously shared Andrea's story with her reasons for marching, but there are more stories to tell. Our stories are not your stories, so please, if you have one, we want to hear it.
I'll never forget that day because it was one of the only times I've felt that close to so many people I didn't know. We were all cheering for each other on the bus over to the march, and everyone was commenting on signs and outfits and whatnot. A close friend of mine who isn't into crowds came out because she really wanted to be there, and to share that day with her was pretty magical. It rained on us the entire time, but it didn't stop the thousands upon thousands of people from coming out to chant, march, sing, shout and cry in the rain. The feeling of solidarity was incredible, though I know the Portland march wasn't without it's issues. Lots of arguments and infighting took place since it wasn't a march aimed, in the beginning, at anyone but women. Thankfully, when the day came, it seemed peaceful overall. My favorite memory, though, was from the before I'd left for the march. I wanted to make a sign, so I walked over to the grocery store and tried to buy posterboard, but every single piece of it was gone. A few other women came over trying to do the same thing and we all laughed and said: "We're too late!" My city was electric that day. My heart was on fire, burning with joy and pride. And, I will never be able to replicate that feeling of togetherness and feeling like I really was being heard. I have learned so much since that day, and I have carried the weight of what marching really represented. It was a moment in my life I will never forget.--Liz Haebe
I didn't march because I had a therapy appointment that I desperately needed to keep. But I felt like I was missing out and kept thinking I should rearrange everything and attend the Houston march, to feel like I was DOING something and was a part of the energy and movement I was seeing. I watched part of the live feed of the D.C. march in a parking garage in Houston, not far from the local march there, as I waited for my appointment, and I just cried. I wished I had less anxiety. I wished I had brought my daughters and my son and made a more active statement to them and myself by joining those who marched. But I eventually just had to accept that I wasn't in the right place to do that. Instead, I started making resistance embroidery and donated the proceeds, and that made me feel like I was taking a more active role in everything. I was so energized and heartened by the inundation of my social media feeds of friends who attended their local and D.C. marches.--Melanie Sweeney Bowen
The morning of the march felt odd, different, strange. We were in a new state of mind as a people, at the start of a revolution in many eyes. The march signified the backlash to the jeopardization of human rights; it was our call to arms, to fight. Our voices, united, would be amplified.
I walked with a friend from SE Portland west over the Hawthorne Bridge to the meeting place along the Willamette River. Quickly we saw crowds accumulating from the bridge down to the waterfront. It was cloudy that January day, as are many NW winter days, and it started to rain. Not a downpour, but a constant, peaceful drizzle. People were dressed accordingly, decked with waterproof jackets with hoods and some scattered umbrellas.
We searched for other people we knew, but ended up alone, together, amidst the sea of people streaming in the streets. The crowd felt like an ocean. A mass of bodies huddled together, though stalled, until the floodgates - so to speak - released. Being in a crowd that large can induce claustrophobia for some. It would have for me years ago, but I’ve learned tricks along the way, besides staying on the side lines. There’s gotta be two streams going, one in each direction, that allows people to pass. We helped people that needed through, a person in a wheelchair, people just needing to get to the other side. And we took turns when the crowd was too packed- we switched places with the people trying to get to the other side, and kept doing this until passage cleared. We gently informed people of our presence- never pushing or being rude, always saying “excuse me” and that we just needed to pass. Most obliged, some resisted, as we do. People were getting anxious though, not enjoying standing around when we all came here to march and scream for equality and peace.
As we got to the center of the crowd, something amazing happened. We happened upon people with instruments in their hands. One person wearing a drum on their chest was over with the waiting and decided it was time to start the march. We stuck with them as they began to play, moving forward and making way for the rest of us to follow. “Let’s march!” We screamed. And we moved our way through the crowd, encouraging others to move with us. “Come on, let’s march!” People cheered us on, and some joined us in the line, agreeing we’d been waiting too long. We made it toward the front and the crowd started moving. People cheered, chanted, laughed, screamed for equity. People of all ages held up hand-made signs:
“Brains are the new tits”
“Keep your hands and your laws off my pussy”
“Our bodies, our minds, our power”
“Feminism is another word for equality”
“Find your heart America”
“Your body, your choice”
“The system is not your ally”
“Viva la vulva”
“Give a damn”
It was powerful to march in a city such as Portland. Thousands of people showed up. Bridges and streets were packed. To see that many people physically showing up was moving. The energy stayed with me; I felt ignited by its force.
It wasn’t a question to march or not. I marched because it’s unacceptable to live in a country that claims to be united while intentionally dividing.
I showed up to march over oppression. I thought we’d be passed this bigoted shit by now. I’m not going back in time.
I marched because I hate the thought of the last 50 years being a waste. We’re better than this.
The march represented the force that is to be reckoned with by white supremacists. We are great in number, power, and drive. The march represented the push for freedom, for equity. My body is not for anyone but myself. My body is my own. No one else dictates how I use it. I am determined to use it to stand up in defense of the freedom to choose one’s own life and not be brought down by fear or manipulation.
Leaving the march felt hopeful, inspiring, somber, and grateful. There is much to be done still, but the march reflected the work that has already been put in to grant us the freedom we have, and acted as a reminder to never stop fighting for equity and freedom for all.--Nat Davis
I didn't march, for a lot of weird reasons, but primarily because I didn't have the support to make it happen. I was in Kansas City for a work trip, and staying at my parents' home. My dad voted for "You Know Who", and my mom voted for Jill Stein. I felt betrayed and let down by both of them, and still struggled to process the emotion of the election. I had one local friend who did go march, but the logistics of parking and finding her on my own felt overwhelming. I was sick (with an anxiety-induced cold, as I like to call them), and I knew that trying to leave the house that day would result in a confrontation with my parents, which I wasn't up for. Instead, I laid in bed and watched updates from marches all over the world flood Pantsuit Nation and my newsfeed. I remember feeling so hopeful that so many people around the world were able to show up and be seen/heard.--Marina Daldalian
I marched with my husband in ABQ at the Plaza Civic Center. I marched because I was heartbroken at the results of the election, and felt naive and complacent in my political activism during the last 8 years of the glorious Obama administration. We were surrounded by our fellow New Mexicans, young and old, children everywhere, a beautiful and plentiful spectrum of brown and white bodies, able and handi-capable, joined in solidarity. I came to know some the problems and issues with other Marches, and the hegemonic nature of the March itself after the fact. While I found joy and resilience and community pride in the March I participated in, I’m glad for the honest sharing of other stories and experiences to continue to make acts of resistance like this inclusive and supportive for all who want to be involved.--Erin Barrio
I did not because I was scheduled to volunteer at the Friends for the Public Library bookshop that day, otherwise, I would have gone.--Dani Adams
I marched in Austin because I felt powerless and wanted to be surrounded by people who were horrified by the results of the election. I walked a way with a renewed sense of optimism at the amount of people who were willing to take a stand and protest. No march was without its problems, but it was better than inaction.--Adriana Wilson
So I was actually, like, flattened out by grief and loss that day. I had spent the previous four years connecting the entire community of women in Las Cruces that were leading that March there and I was feeling so devastated not to be there celebrating with them - but also had experienced a lot of bullying by the national organization of women I worked with and was just beginning to accept what had occurred. So I wasn't functionally able to go, but it also felt important to honor myself and practice self care as a woman on that day. I've been organizing, canvassing, leading social justice work since I was 13. I really wanted to feel a part of what was occurring with the marches but it felt essential to be able to acknowledge myself for the contributions I’ve made without having to show up on one of the most "seen" days. I gave myself permission to stay home and found both inspiration and sadness in all that was occurring.--Carli Romero