We Went to the Women's March: Washington D.C.

**Disclaimer: All views expressed in this article represent the views of the individual author and not Her Campus UConn as a whole.**

This is the second in a series about the Women's Marches around the nation in response to President Trump's inauguration earlier this year.

 

Washington D.C. 

I was a part of something. On January 20th, 2017, only four nights back in my dorm after winter break, I packed up a small bag with one change of clothes, my iPhone, a portable charger, and some Advil. I was headed back to my hometown with my father in the driver's seat. Going home was against his wishes, going to D.C. was against his better judgement. But for my mom, my sister, and me, what my father wants isn’t always what goes. We’re lucky like that.

Riding home in the passenger side of my dad’s over-filled pick-up truck, with various screw drivers, hammers, drop cloths, and banged-up tool boxes from his blue-collar job, we listened to endless Donald Trump news. It was inauguration day, and to say I was just unhappy would be an understatement.

I was terrified, I was lonely, and I was embarrassed.

I was terrified because I now knew I lived in a country where it was okay, even normal, for a man to “grab [a woman] by the pussy.” All you have to do is check the internet using hashtags like #yesallwomen or #notokay to see how commonplace sexual assault is. I was terrified that the rights and equalities that generations before me had fought for were again under assault.

I was lonely because while I love my dad and I know he loves me, I knew he’d never understand the fear that ran through my veins. I’ll admit it; all I wanted in that moment was my mom, because I knew she got me. I wanted to be able to turn to the person next to me on this somber day and see someone who understood. My dad, stubborn in his privilege, laughed and told me to “get over it” when I asked him to turn off the radio because I just needed a break.

I was embarrassed because many women – 53 percent of white women, I’m told - had voted for a man who doesn’t support them, doesn’t respect them, and doesn’t have their best interests at heart. I was embarrassed someone could look at me with my white skin and think maybe I was one of that 53 percent.

My dad was sympathetic enough to take me to McDonald’s for some comfort food, and once home, I flipped on the television to binge-watch some trashy shows. But I couldn’t escape my feelings.

The man that I had previously reassured people would never actually become President had been inaugurated that morning. There he was shaking hands in a peaceful transition of power with my president, Barack Obama, who I had admired since sitting crisscross applesauce in my 5th-grade classroom learning what a primary is. It was to be Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, first African-American presidential nominee or first woman presidential nominee. Either way, it was monumental. Even a 5th grader could feel it. On the worn out blue carpet of my classroom, I felt like I was a part of something - something big.

In February 2008, my parents took my sister and me to see Barack Obama on the campaign trail at the Hartford Civic Center. We squeezed into one of the top rows of the packed coliseum, chanting “Yes, We Can” alongside thousands of people of all races, ages, and genders – people like Caroline Kennedy, a woman my sister and I were captivated by, mostly because she shared a name with my sister. As I stood cheering on my chair in that basketball stadium with Caroline Kennedy, my family, and everything that’s good about America, it felt right.

Finally on election night in November 2008, I cuddled up in front of the TV with my family and we colored in blank maps of the United States with blue and red crayons as each state’s election results were announced. I went to bed not knowing for sure who won, but I still felt like I was a part of something.

Then came November 8, 2016. I woke up in the morning eager and excited to cast my vote – my first presidential vote – for the first woman president of the United States. By the time I went to bed that night, the wind was knocked out of me. I didn’t feel like I was a part of anything at all. I felt adrift.  

And so I sat on my couch and watched my trashy reality TV on inauguration day. Donald Trump was moving into a big white house full of helpful staff, with comforting smiles, who filled the place up with decorations every holiday season, and took care of the bowling alley, the basketball court, and everything else anyone needed. Donald Trump was moving into a home that was every child’s dream, but, at least for me, it no longer felt like a dream. It felt like a nightmare.

Donald Trump, pussy grabber, was being sworn into an office I once wanted to protect. I remember telling my second grade boyfriend – who wanted to be a pediatrician – that I wanted to be a secret service agent. I think it was because I thought they got to change wigs in elevators like the mom from Spy Kids, but it no longer felt like a job I ever would have wanted. Again, I no longer felt like I was a part of something.

But I needed to be, now more than ever.

I was missing the first weekend of spring semester. My mom and I fell asleep after playing through all our lives on Candy Crush and woke up to my alarm at 12:15 a.m. on January 21st. It was time to get ready for our bus ride to Washington D.C.

We were picked up by two women from my mother’s work, who I did not know but seemed to know me from the all the pictures scattered around my mother’s otherwise very organized office. In the middle of the night, we four women drove to a nearby commuter lot and got out into the drizzly, cold weather and waited in line with a crowd of people to board a packed double decker bus. There were four other buses in that lot. I thought about the dozens of lots just like it across Connecticut, and hundreds of others across the country. And I began to feel like I might be a part of something.

The women on the bus shared things. I was offered socks embroidered with the words “Mother Fucking Girl Power,” heart-shaped pins engraved with the word “kind”, hand-made capes with taped-on designs of feminine fists being raised towards the sky in a gesture of defiance, and easily knitted pussy hats in all shades of pink.

About 8 hours later, we stepped off the bus at RFK Stadium in Washington, into a sea of women drenched in the color pink. Getting anywhere near the mobbed Metro seemed futile, so we walked the couple miles from the parking lot to the National Mall. We walked with the women from our bus and several thousand more. The streets weren’t closed to traffic but we walked in them anyway, the sidewalks too crowded to stay on. We walked by young couples standing outside their homes, day-drinking in pink onesies, offering bathrooms and water. We walked by grandmothers hanging out of upstairs windows shouting encouragement in their pink bathrobes. We walked past a little girl dressed in an Ariel mermaid costume waving from her front steps as her parents watched from inside. We walked past a whole block of neighbors with a Martin Luther King quote displayed on each one of their lawns. The whole city seemed to turn out to greet us, to cheer us on, to thank us for coming. I no longer felt scared. I looked around and saw thousands of people who I knew had my back, who I knew stood for the same things I do. I no longer felt lonely.

Finally reaching the National Mall, the crowds were overwhelming. We did not see or hear any speakers – we couldn’t get anywhere near them. But our trip was a success.  We were two of the many, and I knew we were a part of something.

My fear and my loneliness had subsided, but going home I still felt embarrassed. I read articles about the March’s emphasis on white feminism, and I couldn’t help but see the truth in them. My father challenged my commitment to resistance, asking me what I, a privileged kid, think I am going to lose with Donald Trump in office. I snapped back that it’s not always about me. My mom and dad both laughed. I don’t think they ever expected to hear something like that out of me.  But that is the truth. It’s not always about me.

I know what’s in my heart and I’m no longer embarrassed. But I do feel sad, and I feel committed. I feel sad and committed for every woman who thinks she is equal, thinks she is living in a post-feminist world. I walk for them. I walk for every man of color, and every woman of color, who has more to lose than I do. I walk for every Muslim, immigrant, refugee, Mexican, for the LGBTQ community, for the mentally ill, the disabled, for veterans, for the planet. I march for us all. I am no longer embarrassed that I might look like the women who voted for Donald Trump. And I am blessed that I have the freedom and strength to walk for them too. I’ll keep marching. It feels better when you’re part of something.

 

Photos courtesy of Molly Crafts