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Neighbors Growing Together | May 21, 2018

‘Today is just our warm-up’

The Women’s March on Washington one year later
Jan 19, 2018

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Stepping off the bus in D.C. last year, the first hint that something was different about that day was the line outside of the men’s restroom at the bus station. The absurdity wasn’t so much that there were women lined up outside the men’s restroom so much as the fact that there was a line for the men’s restroom, which hardly ever happens.

I was in the crowd of 500,000 people in Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March a year ago on Saturday, Jan. 21. (Disclaimer: I was present as a reporter, not a protester.) In fact, as the number of people grew to 200,000 more than march organizers expected, the march turned into a rally. There was nowhere to march to.

The early hours of the rally were hopeful — a sea of people pilgrimaging to D.C., actively doing something to show their disapproval of the new administration’s disrespect for women. Co-founder of the march, Tamika Mallory, said that the effort was not anti-Trump, but pro-women, an important distinction that empowers women to create change for themselves rather than playing the victim.

As the march moved forward, not all women agreed with the message the protest was sending. CNN political commentator Scottie Nell Hughes said that she doesn’t believe the “Founding Mothers of the 19th Amendment” pictured women wearing hats symbolizing “vulgar” body parts as a way toward gender equality. That being said, she did appreciate the large turnout of women’s involvement.

“I appreciate their engagement,” she said, while adding in the same breath, “I think they could have gotten their message across in a more tasteful manner.”

Other women weren’t as turned away by the anger of the crowd.

Social Justice Attorney Sandra Fluke said that she wants to see the Women’s March launch “the Decade of the Woman.” While discussing the Women’s March with her at a non-partisan conference in D.C. on Inauguration Day last year, Fluke pushed for an increase in women’s involvement in public service. Following the Nov. 8, 2016, election, Fluke was rejuvenated by the number of women coming forward who wanted to run for office.

“When I see campaigns or organizations that are active in the community, there are women just pouring [out] their hearts and souls and accomplishing so much,” Fluke said. “They can totally handle running for office.”

Last year was a historic year for women running for office. The number of female House candidates rose drastically and the number of women challenging incumbents is almost four times the number at the same period in 2015, the New York Times reported. In the Senate, there are almost double the number of female candidates than there were at this time in 2015, and 10 times the number in 2012 and 2014 elections.

In the past year, the Women’s March movement has proved it will not back down and it will not be silent. It is back in full force Saturday, Jan. 20, with more focus and renewed vigor: Power to the Polls. The Power to the Polls rally aims to mobilize more women to vote and to elect more women and progressive candidates to public office, according to the Women’s March website.

While the main march is in Las Vegas, Nev., marches are being held in Des Moines, Iowa City and even Washington tomorrow, as local legislators prepare for their first briefings Saturday at the county courthouse. March organizers chose Las Vegas as an epicenter of where women are facing some of the most pressing issues in the U.S. today, according to the march website.

“As a swing-state that will shape the Senate in 2018 and as home to a strong activist network, Nevada is the perfect place to commemorate the Women’s March and continue building our electoral power,” the Women’s March explained.

Back in D.C. the day after Inauguration, people flooded the streets carrying signs reading, “Women’s rights are human rights,” “Love trumps hate,” “Equality hurts no one. Love is love is love is love;” “We are fierce;” and my personal favorite, “Today is just our warm-up.”

The Women’s March movement is more than a fight for equality — it is a movement to fight deeply ingrained social norms to close the gender gap. These harmful social “norms” stereotype and limit expectations of what women can do.

A year ago when I was standing in the midst of the crowd at the Women’s March right outside our nation’s capitol, I wrote that just because a person finds fault with the movement doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. The momentum the Women’s March is gaining should not be ignored. The sheer number of women gathering across the U.S. and around the world should speak louder than words to what change still needs to happen for there to be true equality.

The most important thing to remember this weekend as women again gather across the country to fight for their voices to be heard is that the Women’s March movement is just beginning to take shape and it isn’t too late to get on board.

“We’re in a hell of a fight,” Mallory is quoted as saying in The Guardian. “Probably, for most of us, the fight of our lives — but we are seeing victories. We are seeing progress.”

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