Voices Raised in Protest: Women’s Marches, Part 2.2

Voices Raised in Protest: Women’s Marches, Part 2.2

This is Part 2.2. These voices were first heard in Part 2.1.

You might also like to read Part 1.2 and Part 2.2.

We asked friends and readers who attended the January 21, 2017 Women’s March on Washington, and sister marches around and beyond the US to share their experiences with us. Here is some of what you told us:

DC March: The Planning Mom arrived with her children right on time.  My friend, an Unplanning mom (another white suburban higher upper class woman who was bringing her 17 year old daughter) texted me and called me trying to figure out how to get in.  I didn't do the planning, and I had little to offer after we learned Vienna was overrun and closed.  She was quite stressed and irritated, especially since "[her] daughter's version of feminism requires a lot of time consuming makeup."  We parked a mile or so away from the metro and followed the pussy hats to get into the line to get into the metro.  Clergy were passing out snacks and water.  Cars passing by honked with excitement and approval.  - Annie M. Noble

DC March: I was most surprised by the wide variety of age groups represented. I saw many women with walkers, in wheelchairs, who possibly had difficulty moving but they were PRESENT. A local DC high school had opened its doors to marchers so they could pee and charge their phones, and I met a woman from Minnesota who had come with her granddaughter. It was a 22 hour bus ride, each way! Everyone that I saw was so polite and thoughtful and just happy to be there. Even at the end of the day, when people were exhausted, there was a real consideration for others. - Marli

Portland, OR March: I read/listened in to a number of conversations that were taking place on the Portland march Facebook group pertaining to white feminism and intersectionality. There was a lot of participation and some conflict, but also a lot of real conversations and learning that were taking place. - Megan Newell-Ching

Portland, OR March: My son and I got on the Max (Portland's light rail) about seven stops away. There were so many people downtown that the trains were delayed - what would have usually been a 15 minute trip took almost an hour. But knowing that the reason we were delayed was because the crowds were so big was oddly kind of joyous. - Matt Newell-Ching

DC March: Walking 2 miles to the march, a few hours before it was to begin, and watching so many people streaming in the same direction.  Amazing - International Development Worker

London March: There was this hum in the air in the local art supply store on the High Street; everyone in there, on what was American inauguration day, was buying stacks of posterboar, big pens, glue, and paint, and you knew absolutely that it was all in preparation for the march. The art store's tagline here is "Let's fill this town with artists," and the neighborhood where I'm living used to be known for its bohemian quality. That's long been lost amidst pricey boutiques, but there was a glimmer of that other district and the air of possibility and artistic protest. - Christy Zink

(Image by Nick Ferrari, NY March)

(Image by Nick Ferrari, NY March)

Who you saw

DC March: I work at a public school so lots of my colleagues were there.  Quite a few of my personal friends were there but I went with my twin sister and sister in law. - Katie

DC March: Where I was standing, there some diversity in terms of race, gender and age, but the vast majority of those in my vicinity I would guess were white women between the ages of 20-30. We were more diverse in terms of male representation (I would guess about 30% of the people standing around me were men). The signage around me was slightly more diverse. I saw a few signs not promoting not only "women's rights issues" (I'll explain the quotes shortly), but other things like Black Lives Matter, the environment, and immigration rights. The reason for my quotes around women's rights goes back to one of my early answers of why I attended. Ask a group of women how they define women's rights and you'll probably get a different answer from each woman; particularly if you're asking a woman of color. Many of the speakers touched on that point, including Kamala Harris. For many women, particularly those in other protected groups, women's rights isn't centered around just reproductive rights or equal pay. Race relations, immigration rights, LGBTQ issues are just as high on the list. So whenever a speaker mentioned pro-choice or equal pay, the group around me went wild. But when some of the other topics came up, there was a marked difference in terms of the enthusiasm and there were a lot of confused looks as to why this was being brought up at a women's rights event. - @CAndrewsDC

London March: So many people. If I say it felt like all of London was there, it wasn't just because of numbers. That, of course, was astounding--how very many people came together, beyond expectations (estimates beforehand were at 29,000; the attendance count ended up being 100,000). But also "all of London," because there really was strong representation of so many communities and causes. While we had our fair share of pussy hats, there were also lots of couples of all combinations, members of different religious affiliations (judging by their signs). Loads of people protesting racism and supporting immigration. Queer and LGBTQ signs aplenty. Many, many people with babies and children. And dogs! Equipped with their own placards, even: "Grrrr!" More men than I would have expected, in a culture that can feel segmented by gender. And, because it's London, plenty of Brits with wry humor, Peppa Pig for President supporters, and a "Free the Nipple" contingent who, god bless them, had to be freezing for their topless cause. Socialists, anti-Tories ("Tories eat children" read one sign), and anti-capitalists also made their presence known. I was touched by the number of times I saw reference to Jo Cox, an MP here who was murdered by a member of the far-right, associated with the Neo-Nazis, because it was a reminder to me about the ways that women in public can face risks just by nature of their support for women and human rights, and that there are international repercussions for the uptick in violence and hatred we're seeing in the US and UK alike. - Christy Zink

Portland, OR March: Many city blocks of people. Definitely very white, but not obscenely white by Portland standards. - Matt Newell-Ching

Portland, OR March: It seemed like a pretty representative cross-section of Portland. Lots of white folks. Families. Groups of young folks. Old folks. Church folks. POCs. Queer folks. They were all out there. It was kind of an amazing mass of humanity. - Megan Newell-Ching

DC March: I feel like I saw everybody.  We ran into the portion of the march being set aside for differently abled people, and everybody who passed in a wheelchair/with crutches/walkers/etc. was cheered: "you go girl!"  I saw gay men and straight men with "What she said" signs pointing all over the place.  I saw a man wearing a dapper hat and carrying American flags who said the left needs to reclaim the flag because the right likes to call us unpatriotic while they're the ones selling out to the Kremlin.  I saw a woman in full cosplay Vagina.  I saw large groups of Muslim women wearing pink hijabs.  I saw a young hot lady I thought I recognized from Tinder but who knows. - Annie M. Noble

Madison March: Our bus (with some exceptions) was predominantly white, middle class, late 30's to mid 50's, educated, and female. The crowd in Madison was more diverse racially and by age, but it was a predominantly white and middle class event. I am concerned about a sustainable movement that can also be intersectional. - Jessica Fox

DC March: I was impressed with the overall diversity - yes there were lots of white women, but I saw a lot of Hispanic and Black, Asian, Native American, and everything in between.  Lots of men, which made me very happy.  Good age range. - International Development Worker

Your encounters with law enforcement or Trump supporters

DC March: I saw very few policeman. The ones I saw were polite to me. There were some national guard members who were straight up supportive, which was nice. I didn't see any counter-protestors, though some people on our bus had an encounter with a group that said they were from Planned Parenthood, but were actually collecting email addresses for an anti-choice org (not sure which one). - Marli

Madison March: Because of the crowd demographics (and because it was Madison) there was a very light and generally positive police presence. I saw no counter protesters. - Jessica Fox

Portland, OR March: Law enforcement looked like they were having a good time. They tweeted out afterward that it was "100% peaceful." The previous night there were some problems with anarchists, but Saturday happened without incident. - Matt Newell-Ching

London March: I just realized I didn't even see a policeman or policewoman OR a counter-protestor.  Of course they must have been there, especially law enforcement. The closest thing to "counter" was a woman who leaned down and told my daughter to ignore all the bad words on the signs around us. (And oh, there were plenty of bad words, because, well, England.) - Christy Zink

DC March: None at all!  It was the most peaceful day ever.  Such a love fest! - Katie

(Image by Nick Ferrari, NY March)

(Image by Nick Ferrari, NY March)

DC March: It was eerie.  In DC, there are ALWAYS cop copters, there are always sirens, there are always police.  Just a walk at night along the mall on a weekday would yield more police encounters than I experienced on the march.  It was like they told the cops to leave us alone.  One National Guard officer on top of a military van was using his mobile phone to take panaramics of the crowds while smiling.  Security officers in government buildings were looking through the entrances and waving and giving us thumbs up.  But otherwise - no cops.  Two ambulances which crowds parted for respectfully.  And that's it.  The sky was eerily silent. Other protesters: I saw three, all of them the typical white man with the sign saying we were all gonna burn in hell.  They were pretty much ignored by the crowds, or had a woman who stationed herself near him with a counter-message sign. - Annie M. Noble

DC March: I had no interaction with law enforcement nor did I witness any encounters. I was pleasantly surprised how calm and orderly a crowd that size was (despite some hiccups in the program). - @CAndrewsDC

DC March: Limited. I think the police were mostly a few blocks away, but the few times there was an ambulance or whatever going through, people made way.  There were a few randoms that seemed to just want to go to museums.  I heard of a few counter protesters, but can't speak to that first hand - International Development Worker

What you ate and where you peed (at The Scold, we ask the important questions)

DC March: I'm a protest/march/sit-in veteran, so I know how to plan my meals and pee breaks. I brought a bottle of water with me along with two small bags of trail mix. I wanted to have enough in my system to be nourished, but not enough that I would need bathroom breaks. You will NEVER catch me in a porta potty and I avoid public bathrooms as much as I can. So when it was time to march, my friend and I took a detour to go to his office to go to the bathroom. Once we were done we rejoined the festivities.  - @CAndrewsDC

Portland, OR March: Ha! We ate clif bars and PBJ sandwiches. Peed at the mall. Long lines. - Matt Newell-Ching

Portland, OR March: Like the mother of young children that I am, I packed sandwiches, fruit leather, oranges, nuts and granola bars and brought a water bottle. We munched on those things all afternoon. Potty breaks happened at the Pioneer Place mall. - Megan Newell-Ching

DC March: We all packed snacks, like trail mix and whatnot.  But peeing - that was an impossible mission that we made possible!  Frenemy Friend was in an urgent need after our three hour trek into the city, but after two hours of seeking porta potties (we saw THREE during that time, and we could finally see one row of them but they were across a barricade we couldn't cross, and also, Frenemy Friend was interviewed by NBC during this time) we resigned ourselves to finding another way.  After some jovial talk, women around us agreed to use our protest signs and our bodies to make a private stall for her to pee on a tree.  During the peeing, we sang America the Beautiful.  It was BEAUTIFUL.  When somebody else needed to go, we did it again and sang "You are my sunshine." - Annie M. Noble

DC March: We packed plenty of hearty snacks- thank goodness!  It was a long day and I'm pregnant, so I was glad I stuffed my bag with food! - Katie

Madison March: I brought snacks and food in my bag and I peed on our bus (there was a bathroom) before getting off. After the march, we found a Mexican restaurant off of State Street to eat and pee. - Jessica Fox

DC March: I had to run out for an hour partway through for a work thing, so grabbed a bagel nearby (and peed).  Otherwise, i mostly ate a few snacks I brought, but tried to limit my water intake to avoid having to pee. There were still a lot of porta poties, I used one and it was fine, although others had long lines. - International Development Worker

DC March: I ate aforementioned energy bars. Also, women being socialized to nurture and share, every women brought too much food and also shared, so I ate some other people's food as well. I peed on the bus before I got off, in a port o potty (at 6am it was nearly full already), at a bar, and at the high school. I had been worried about it and didn't drink too much. - Marli

(Photo by Megan Newell-Ching, Portland, OR)

(Photo by Megan Newell-Ching, Portland, OR)

The road home

DC March: After the march, we walked to Georgetown and had a huge dinner! The day after, I was tired and still so emotional. I cried reading the coverage and looking at the pictures.  It was just such a powerful, life-affirming day- I'll never forget it. - Katie

Madison March: We drove back on the bus. I got home and I began parenting again, since my 5 year old spent all day at home with dad. (HE WAS NOT BABYSITTING, BECAUSE HE WAS PARENTING, BECAUSE HE HAS BEEN THE PRIMARY PARENT FOR 5 YEARS. Sorry to shout, but this is very important to me.) - Jessica Fox

London March: Overwhelm of the tube stations and closure of entry to the Charing Cross station meant that we gave up trying to get home and had an early dinner at a lovely Japanese restaurant a few blocks from the end of the march. That actually turned out to be precious time to talk with my daughter over sushi and bento boxes and endamame and hot tea--to warm our very cold hands--about what we'd seen, how she felt, what it meant to be Americans living in a different country, with an end-date in returning home. e finally worked our way back home on the underground and performed an important feminist action by watching two episodes of the original Gilmore Girls. - Christy Zink

DC March: I met my friend and had a drink and caught up. He's a scientist and is as concerned as I am. I got home on the same bus as I came down on. I left NYC at 1:45 am and came back that same day at 11:30 pm. - Marli

DC March: I went right home after the march. We walked about a mile further than needed to ensure we could get on the metro and the crashed when we got home. - @CAndrewsDC

DC March: Met up with family and friends who had marched and had dinner - everybody was on a high. We walked, due to the massive lines at metro stations. Checked in with friends - everybody felt good about it. - International Development Worker

Portland, OR March: We took the MAX train (light rail) to/from the march. It was so crowded and there were lots of delays, but people were overwhelmingly patient and kind and we made jokes and ate sandwiches and it was fine. We took warm baths and ate pizza for dinner, and conducted most of the rest of our evening in a series of call and response chants (the kids were into it!). - Megan Newell-Ching

Portland, OR March: We took the light rail to where we parked our car. First train when we got to the station was completely full, but we were able to get on the second. - Matt Newell-Ching

DC March: Around 5 we really had to admit we were feeling worse for wear.  Started towards a metro, ended up at the one across from Trump's hotel, where people had festooned the boundary with the protest signs while a straggle of what could have possibly been private security people looked on.  We trudged onto the metro tired and satisfied.  I moved a fellow from a seat so our 70 year old fellow marcher could sit.  He was apologetic but friendly, had come with his 8 yo daughter who was melting down and his wife and his sister and his teenage son.  When we got to East Falls Church, Planning Mom grabbed an uber, got to our car (parked a couple of miles from the station), and then came back to get us.  We headed home without incident. - Annie M. Noble

What now?

London March: or what it's worth--or not--I'm going to send a letter to Theresa May, who is scheduled to meet with Trump. (Note: I refuse to address him as President.) I'm also drafting letters to Senators, such as Sen. Franken, who've been asking ecessary, pressing questions of unfit cabinet nominees such as Betsy DeVos. I'm a DC resident, so direct channels to democratic representation are seriously limited; at times, the best I can do is to thank people who are doing the good hard work, from the tops of the legislative branch to taking every opportunity I can to cheer on friends who are swallowing the difficulty of getting on the phone and encountering unhappy staffers to register their opposition to harmful agendas being forwarded in the US. - Christy Zink

DC March: I sent postcards to my Senator and representatives, as per the 10 actions, 100 days. I'll continue to do as many of those as I can.  I and several friends all noted how the next day we felt super motivated to do SOMETHING more; it was such a positive day that we felt we needed it to continue  - International Development Worker

DC March: I'm really focusing on making changes at the local and possibly state levels. I think this is a more realistic goal. One of the things I've been working on with a group in my area is passing a law to make it illegal to ask for salary history. I'll continue working on that and I'll be looking to join one of the grassroots groups who spoke at the march. I started donating as much as possible to groups like Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and the NAACP right after the election. I want to expand on that in the coming months/year. - @CAndrewsDC

Portland, OR March: Part of my job is policy work and mobilizing. It's so encouraging that so many people are getting active politically for the first time, and there is a lot of work that needs to be done. On a personal level, I wrote six letters today - two to my representative and 2 to each senator - one about protecting DACA, and the other about protecting safety net programs. Our 7-yo wrote his first letter to Congress today. It said, "treat everyone equally." - Matt Newell-Ching

Portland, OR March: Today we wrote letters to our elected officials in support of the BRIDGE act and asking them to fight the block granting of social safety net programs like SNAP and Medicaid. I plan to stay vigilant, to speak up and out for folks in our community who are vulnerable and to talk to my kids about what's going on in the world. One day at a time. - Megan Newell-Ching

DC March: I signed up to be a rape crisis advocate, so I plan on continuing with that work. Everyone in my class is incredible and reminds me that there are good people in the world, even if our president is a selfish bag of shit. - Marli

DC March: I've signed up for various organizations regarding upcoming elections.  We're making a monthly contribution to Planned Parenthood and I plan on making regular phone calls to my state and local government to continue to make my voice be heard. - Katie

DC March: I plan to send those goddamned postcards (I need to find a good app for that - maybe one of those thank you card apps with pictures of my children will work).  I plan to march again with the next SURJ march.  I plan to push the envelope a little further at my next march.  I plan to try to dismantle the vestiges of patriarchy in my domestic life (I foresee further arguing and "why are you so angry" conversations).  I plan to make art.  I plan to introduce my children to the "bad words" they're going to hear at the next protest march, having been inspired by all the children who were brought to this one (another item for the dismantle the patriarchy at home checklist). - Annie M. Noble

Madison March: I am joining a chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, I am modding a group of predominantly white, female people who are doing a read along of the Syllabus to Educate White People, and I am committing to doing 1 Fight Trump action per week, as suggested by the Fight Trump mailing list. - Jessica Fox

***

Editors’ note: All respondents were identified according to their wishes. Responses were lightly edited for obvious typographical errors. If you responded and don’t see your words here, STAY TUNED! We’ll be running more responses over the next couple weeks. Want to tell us your story? You can still take our survey!

Main Image: Photo by Christy Zink, Lions at Trafalgar Square (with editorial comment), at the Women’s March in London

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