What Comes after the March

There are only a select few days a year where walking around in a pink “pussy hat” and carrying a sign that says “Stay Vag-ilant” or “This pussy grabs back” won’t draw at least a few surprised glances from passerby on the street. But on this glorious day, January 20, both women and men, children and the elderly, people of all races and sexualities got the chance to display their best slogans and t-shirts in the fight against the patriarchy in the new year.

Women’s marches occurred all across the country last Saturday as protestors once again demanded equal rights, pay, and, following the explosion of the Time’s Up Movement, a renewed focus on the sexual violence that occurs every day against women everywhere. With the anniversary of last year’s march that occurred on January 21, this continued focus on these issues reminded the nation that women will no longer remain silent or patiently stand by and wait for justice. We are taking to the streets. We are rising up.

I was lucky enough to attend the Women’s Rally on Raleigh, which saw several thousand attendees, and included brilliant female speakers and performers. Lining the lawns just outside of North Carolina’s state legislature building were tables of groups advocating for issues of human rights, pro-choice, and more, offering sign-up sheets to protesters looking for more ways to lend support to this powerful movement. And while there certainly were many looking to sign up, it seemed to me as though many people showed up to the rally, listened to the speakers attentively, chanted and waved signs along with everyone else, and then simply left. This has to change if we want to truly accomplish the goals written across so many posters and woven into so many speeches.

Don’t get me wrong, raising awareness and voicing dissatisfaction with the way women are treated today is quintessential to this movement, and I applaud everyone who gave up their day in solidarity of all women. There is so much power in claiming your voice and no longer remaining silent; this is especially clear in the wake of the #MeToo movement. But we cannot stop here if we want to achieve meaning change in our laws, in our society, and in our world.

There are steps beyond giving up one day to protest gender inequality, or posting a single photo to Instagram with the hashtag #TogetherWeRise or #WomensMarch2018. Instead of just saying #PowerToThePolls, we need to make sure that we actually get to the voting booth. We need to call our representatives and make our voices heard on policies that affect the women where we live. We need to volunteer at Planned Parenthood, or donate to local shelters for women and children facing domestic violence. We need to run for office.

While I wish that words were enough, in today’s world, we need action. Marching is the first step. It’s time that we all follow through on the second. That is how we will change the world.