Women’s March on Washington, January 21, 2017
Following the 2016 Presidential election, having witnessed the winner’s strategy of divide by hate, conquer by fear, a loose affiliation of activist women leaders called a national day of resistance for January 21. What started as a women’s protest against the bigotry and hate-baited rhetoric of the Trump campaign- quickly morphed into a public re-dedication to America’s core democratic values (often espoused, rarely achieved): Equality, Fairness, Human Rights, Social Justice for all. Intersectionality and collaborative social media skills aligned for the staging of the largest global day of citizen activism in history. The Women’s March on Washington was the epicenter drawing more than 500,000 allies, with 400 cities around the world staging sister marches and 5 million global participants.
When the call for a women’s resistance to Trump emerged just hours after the election, it was fueled by anger at the sexist, racist, bigoted language and divisive tactics employed by Trump, (who lost the popular vote by three million, but won the archaic Electoral College-an instrument with a racist past undermining the will of the people’s vote.) Anger was righteous. Fear was endemic. Women began to participate in Facebook groups speaking of diminished rights, marginalization, inequity and victimization by the pervasive violent rape culture. What happened next is remarkable. Anger converted to action, and out of the momentum emerged an inclusive agenda of human rights and social justice reform.
On the drive from Cincinnati to D.C. Every rest stop and gas station was teeming with women in pink “pussy hats” variations of a knit cap with kitten ears. From gas pumps, to buses on the turnpike. From Union Station to The Mall- a massive wall of pink hats. We walked past the Canadian Embassy, toward the National Gallery, until we were stopped still by the crush. The march to the White House began at 1:00 pm, but our feet couldn’t move for a full hour- at which point we flowed off route, opening more streams, eventually rejoining the body of protesters. But this action was already beyond protest. It had morphed into an entity of political will, a movement not of partisan politics, but transcendent human power. Curiously missing were police, guns, security and obvious surveillance. No helicopters, no drone cameras. Consequently, we are missing the customary aerial angles of the entire march. Lacking that evidence it becomes much easier to diminish and dismiss. Trump’s tweets of the day embraces the false narrative of a small turnout. Administration spokesperson Kellyann Conway preferred the term “alternate truth” to describe Trump’s myopia. However the mute testimony of thousands of signs and posters left on the steps of Trump’s hotel, lining the Mall, stacked at the Metro stations bear witness to our presence and commitment to stand up and fight back.
Why we march…
Partisanship has failed us. Corruption and lack of credibility plagued the contest. One half of the citizenry declined to participate. We march for essential women’s rights to reproductive healthcare, the support and defense of Planned Parenthood, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, religious tolerance and critical reform of the racist oppressors of police and judicial violence. We have transcended partisan politics to achieve solidarity with women’s rights and human rights as the goal.
We made this happen locally- in where a handful of women, strangers to one another- accepted the call for a Sister March. Local response to a Facebook event page, was so rapid, that the need to organize a significant public event with framework of legal permits to march and rally in Washington Park, policing, insurance and staging- was imperative—and expensive. With a GOFUNDME page the money began to fill in- reassuring the organizers that they would be underwritten by their constituency. Each day the numbers of attendees multiplied by hundreds, then thousands. On the morning of the march, registered attendance was topping 10,000. Ultimately an estimated 14,000 marchers filled Washington Park and all streets leading in. The march was so long, the leaders at the head of the route, returned to the park before the last marchers could join the parade. In the largest mass protest in the history of Cincinnati, this women-lead, non-violent, non-partisan global action has become the rallying cry of unity on the most critical issues.
(On his first full day in office, President Trump reinstated a Reagan era ban on the use of U.S. foreign aid funds for abortions or abortion counseling. Guess he didn’t get the pink pussy hatted message. Perhaps he’s crafting “alternate facts”. Gloves off, resistance is imperative.)
Kate Gallion 1.23.17