In one of the largest recorded protests in US history, a congregation gathered on the Washington Mall on January 21 to demonstrate their displeasure with the stances and promises of the recently sworn-in administration. Specifically regarding potential policies on abortion, health care, discrimination, civil rights, and legislation regarding Muslims, the nearly three million gathered in the nation’s capital made it clear that they wanted women’s issues addressed and not ignored or legislated over.
The march originally came under severe scrutiny when it became clear that the three women who were organizing the demonstration were all straight, white, and upper-middle class. Feminism itself has been criticized when it fails to incorporate issues for Women of color, LGBTQ+ women, women with disabilities, and women in poverty, as “white feminism,” or an ideology that only benefits straight, white, upper-middle class cis-gendered women. Its counterpart, “Intersectional Feminism,” is one that addresses the intersection of gender, race, income, sexuality, education, and other elements that contribute to a person’s identity and is generally considered a more inclusive, compassionate, and socially just.
To the end that the march did not want a reputation of supporting only “white feminism,” the three leaders stepped down and handed the torch to a black woman, a woman of latin american descent, and a Muslim woman who chooses to wear a hijab. These three young organizers worked hard to create and publicize a demonstration that drew attention to a smorgasbord of issues that afflict women of a wide slew of cultures. And publicize it did.
Crowd engineers estimate that the turnout at the Women’s March was about triple the turnout Donald Trump’s Inauguration, and that does not include the other movements that took place in cities as big as LA and as small as Lancaster, PA. Despite the size, the police didn’t make a single arrest, and there were no reports of property damage. Far from a riot, this demonstration was designed to celebrate American womanhood and make clear that Americans would fight to defend the progress made in women’s healthcare and public safety from assault.
The day of the event, hundreds and hundreds poured into the city, many clad in pink “pussy hats” whose proceeds benefited Planned Parenthood. People of all genders thronged to the streets holding signs declaring that women won’t stand idly by and watch their rights and healthcare erode without some backlash. Marchers carried signs that read “Pussy Grabs Back” in reference to a leaked Trump interview in which he said he would “grab [women] by the pussy.” Celebrities ranging from Madonna to Zendaya to John Legend to Scarlett Johansson attended the event to deliver speeches, perform, or just mingle with other protesters.
Overall, the march was meant to serve as a starter’s block for a long relationship among citizens to stand up against legislation and behavior that will put women in danger or purposefully make life more difficult for them. The march was imperfect for a number of reasons, including the language focused on reproductive organs that may have alienated some trans people, but on the whole, the movement demonstrated the power of numbers and the refusal of the public to take the promises of the incoming administration lying down.