NYC Womens March 2018
I know that I'm a bit late talking about the Women's March, but I couldn't not share my experiences and images from the day. I'll be honest, when I first started hearing that a second march was in the planning I was a little worried. The 2017 Women's March was so much bigger and so much more emotional than I had ever expected. It was overwhelming to be in NYC with hundreds of thousands of people exercising their right to take to the streets to express their anger, their solidarity, and their desire for change. And even more incredible to see women across the globe in cities big and small do the same, each with their own messages of what challenges affected them most. At the beginning of 2017, it felt like the backlash against the march, and against women rocking the social boat was already swelling and that a second annual march might be met with a mediocre turnout and more belittling from opponents. Then Weinstein happened, and #metoo, and #timesup, and the Alabama special election. And that anger that swelled so publicly with last year's march, grew into a wave that completely disrupted the nation and some of our most high profile industries (Hollywood, fashion, Broadway, journalism, and the government) and it doesn't look like it'll be stopping anytime soon (I hope).
So in light of everything that 2017 was, I'm not entirely sure why I was worried about this year's turnout, and thinking I'd be walking the streets of NYC alone. While the march was not as big as last year (200,000 in NYC, down from over 400,000 last year), it started the same for me: walking down into the subway and seeing small groups of women of all ages and the families with their young children (and babies) and their signs. Each train that went by was full of marchers, all of us together making our way uptown. The press of the people was the same too, thousands of people standing in the cold inching down packed side streets waiting to make it into the main flow of the march, like the clogged tributaries of a dense and slow-moving river winding it's way downtown. The proximity and delays offered ample opportunities to talk to the people surrounding me about what brought each of them to the march. Many of them were alumni of last year's marches in NYC, DC, and LA. We talked about our experiences at the first march, what it meant to us then and how things had changed. Last year seemed to be about reminding the world that we are here, that half the population of this country doesn't feel represented or respected by our elected officials and the laws they sponsor. It was as though we were waking each other up and reminding ourselves that we need to participate to prevent a worrisome future.
For me, this year was angrier. We weren't saying "be careful, we won't be underestimated" this year the message was "get in line and get to work.' If we learned anything from 2017 it's that marching isn't enough. You need to get out there and do the work. You need to vote, and badger your local and national representatives, and use your financial power to boycott the institutions that are harboring predators or in general getting it wrong and support the ones that are taking steps towards an equitable future. 2017 was a year of record numbers of women and LGBTQ and trans people running for office and winning. If in January of 2017 we were banding together against our fears of the future, this year those fears are looking more like realities as marchers addressed the issues that have boiled to the surface during Trump's first year in office, namely sexual harassment and assault. immigration, racism (both individual and institutional), and healthcare. But this march also called out some women within the movement for perpetuating feminism's racist history, while simultaneously applauding women of color's contributions to political activism and upholding the vital importance of intersectional feminism. Women spoke openly about their experiences as survivors of sexual assault and the experiences of being underrepresented and unsupported as well as their plans to actively change systems in their communities to support and prevent future . From my corner of the march I was in, no one was interested in platitudes, only in change and progress.
Following the march I attended an event by VoteRunLead.org to warm up and for some much-needed sandwiches, wine, and an incredible panel discussion about where we go post-#metoo. VoteRunLead is a bipartisan organization that helps to train women to run for office regardless of their past experiences. To date, 34 alumni of the program successfully won their last campaign (27 are first-time candidates) at various levels of government in 12 different states. Listening to the panelists speak made it even more apparent how crucial it is that women take leadership positions to ensure our equal representation in this country, and how shutting half the population out of the decision-making process isn't actually helping anyone or moving us forward.
Here are some of my images from throughout the day, I hope you enjoy them. I'd love to hear your experiences at the march, your feelings about the movement and how you are making changes in your community.