Erin Monroe: I Marched on Washington

Name: Erin Monroe

Year: Sophomore

Major: Psychology

Hometown: Osteen, FL

Her Campus (HC): What inspired you to travel all the way to Washington D.C. and why did you decide to go?

Erin Monroe (EM): The Women’s March on Washington was an opportunity to represent all the things I care about! It’s important to me to help create a voice for issues you’re concerned about. If we don’t march for our rights, then who will? I wanted to be there to stand up for the environment, reproductive rights [and] LGBTQ rights.

HC: Who did you go with and how did you get there?

EM: I went with other Empowering Women Globally FSU members, which made for the perfect group of women to share the experience with. We applied for a sponsorship, which was organized and paid for by Florida State’s chapter of the Women’s March. The sponsorship granted each of us seats on buses heading for the March. Half of us got seats on a Tallahassee bus and my group drove to Gainesville to meet our bus.

HC: What was it like driving literally across the country?

EM: The drive was about 13 hours both ways. We drove through Friday night and then Saturday night. It was pretty uncomfortable and no one could sleep, but I don’t think that really bothered anyone. A woman named Susie baked like 50 muffins and handed them out at the beginning of the ride, which I think initially set the feeling that we were all there to care for one another. The bus was a combination of women who I would say ranged from early 20s to mid-60s and our bus driver brought her two younger boys who loved to talk to us through the bus driver’s speaker through[out] the drive. Around midnight, some of the women took turns standing at the front of the bus sharing their thoughts and feelings as we drove towards Washington—mostly about why they are marching. This was an impactful moment for me and everyone else I think. I think my body was exhausted before we even got to the rally, but my heart was so full that it didn’t matter!

HC: What personally were you marching for?

EM: I was marching for human rights! For myself specifically this was mainly about reproductive rights, the environment and LGBTQ rights. When Trump was inaugurated, the LGBTQ page was removed from the White House website, which terrified me. Queer people are finally gaining rights and we elected someone who is about to throw us back to the side. I also feel that Trump’s election will cause irreversible damage to our planet. Our environment is already facing issues and we just made the absolute worst move at a critical time in our nature’s health. And don’t even get me started on reproductive rights. You are not treated as a human if you do not have control over your own body. I don’t believe the government should have any say in what I do with my body. Mostly, to me, this march was less about personal reasons and more about supporting one another’s reasons for needing to march. As a person of privilege, it was my responsibility to march for those who either couldn’t or who needed support!

Courtesy: Newsday

 

HC: How do you think the D.C. Women’s March compared to others around the country? Did you keep tabs on the other ones going on?

EM: I was nervous that my phone might die and that I might get lost and left in D.C. so I rarely used my phone. I had no idea how huge the other marches were until I got back onto the bus that night. I think that I saw that San Francisco had more marchers than D.C., which is amazing! I heard that despite the rain, Tallahassee had an amazing turnout too! I don’t think it matters where you marched this past weekend [as long as] you showed up and added to the movement!

HC: Did you experience any counter protesting from people advocating against the Women’s March?

EM: I walked past a handful of Trump supporters, but they didn’t seem to be in a large collective. It was more like individuals who were decked out in “Make America Great Again” gear.

HC: What were the speakers like? Are there any specific moments that stuck out to you that you feel you’ll remember?

EM: Since there [were] so many people, I didn’t hear many of the speeches. I remember at one point suddenly being able to hear Gloria Steinem say, “If you force Muslims to register, we will all register as Muslim,” which added to the feeling of unity and strength as I stood in a crowd of thousands. At another point in her speech when she said, “We are at one with each other, we are looking at each other. No more asking daddy,” which was also inspiring. With that statement, she helped to legitimize our desire for equality.

HC: Did you meet any of the notable speakers or any particularly empowering protesters?

EM: We saw a surprising amount of celebrities Saturday: Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Alicia Keys, Amy Poehler and so on. We also saw some amazing activists: Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis and Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards.  My friends and I got to take a picture with Emma Watson. During the march, I spoke to a few other marchers. Many middle-aged women told me about other protests or marchers they went to as children, mainly anti-war protests. They also talked about not wanting to go “back” because they remember what it’s like. Susie from the bus told [me and] my friends that it wasn’t until a few years after she was out of high school that she could get a credit card exclusively under her own name. Prior, it would have had to have been under a husband’s name.

Courtesy: Fox News

 

HC: What do you think is important for the people who don’t support the Women’s March to know?

EM: It doesn’t make sense to me that anyone wouldn’t support it, but I have seen plenty of my high school friends trashing the march on Facebook. This march is simply for women to have control over their own bodies, to be treated as equal and to make the same amount of money a man can make. If it’s about having an issue with feminism, I think they should try to understand that even though the word “feminism” implies something feminine, it is not exclusive to women at all. Feminism is about wanting global human rights for every person! I think it’s important for someone who doesn’t support the march to do some research on potential rights they could lose, such as assistance from Planned Parenthood, which includes birth control, tests and treatments for STIs. [Planned Parenthood] sees people of all genders, not only women.

HC: What were some of the best signs you saw?

EM: I loved signs that were personal to the person’s experience such as: “I’m tired of marching to be treated like a human” or “I’m marching for my daughter/sister” and of course the classic “women’s rights are human rights” and “this is what a feminist looks like.” There were a few awesome ones that bashed Trump and had huge pictures of his face, which made the march more fun.

Courtesy: VOA News