This weekend, though I live in Canada, I participated in the Women’s March with my mother and a few thousand others to stand up to negative rhetoric, hate, and the threat of loss of fundamental rights for women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and minorities in the United States. People keep asking what the point was; “What is everyone protesting?” My experience this weekend tells me that while nearly everyone was either protesting or supporting their own list of causes, we were all united by the common goal of equitable rights and respect and love.
That’s why out of over a million marchers, there were no arrests. Many people were angry and had valid reasons for their anger. But what was expressed was determination and passion and love. I saw little girls filled with potential and hope for the future beaming from ear to ear with signs saying “Girls Rock!” and “Love is better!” I saw the older women with the classic “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this shit” signs. I saw advocacy for reproductive health rights. I saw signs for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. I saw Black Lives Matter. I saw trans men and women and non-binary people advocating for their voices to be heard. I saw men supporting and believing in the voices of marchers. I also saw a ton of Princess Leia- I mean, General Organa.
The Women’s March may have been organized in part due to cuts to Planned Parenthood and funding for reproductive health, but I believe the reason it was not called The March for Planned Parenthood is because women’s issues are so much broader and more nuanced. At first, even I was a little confused. But then, I loved it. A Women’s March couldn’t only revolve around one issue, because there is not only one way to be a woman. Every person has their own voice and lived experience and every single one of those voices deserves to be heard and treated with respect. I admit, the world felt darker and colder on November 9th, 2016. There have been more than a few harsh reminders of what was decided in the United States. But there have been so many strong dissenters who have had the courage to stand up and say “this hate is wrong, we are better than it.” There has already been a strong effort to hold the new administration accountable.
While the Women’s March was undoubtedly a response to DJT’s persona, actions, words, and, well, Inauguration, the movement was a largely nonpartisan one. People of all backgrounds marched and supported all over the world. As Angela Davis put it,
This women’s march represents the promise of feminism as against the pernicious powers of state violence. An inclusive and intersectional feminism that calls upon all of us to join the resistance to racism, to Islamophobia, to anti-Semitism, to misogyny, to capitalist exploitation.
We are called to act against forces of hate and oppression, even if we ourselves do not experience those forces. Those of us who are fortunate to be in such a position have a responsibility to help those who are not. Being a white, middle classed, Canadian woman, I’ve had “equal rights” since 1916. While there are still strides to be made so that I can take away the quotation marks, the divides and gaps are much more pronounced for women of colour, and there are still so many ways the LGBTQ+ community is marginalized and oppressed. It’s so important to recognize these issues and injustices and work together to right them. To quote a WM poster, “Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it is not a problem for you personally.”
As our local March was chanting, “(Human Rights are Women’s Rights and) Women’s Rights are Human Rights” (thanks, HRC, circa 1995). And that means everyone.
— kisses, Kate.
(Here are some more signs from this weekend)