“Show me what democracy looks like!” “This is what democracy looks like!” “Show me what a feminist looks like!” “This is what a feminist looks like!”
These were the first war cries heard outside of the Air and Space Museum, a few hours before the Women’s March on Washington was set to start. Women, men, children and gender non-conforming individuals flocked to D.C. and cities all over the world, wearing pink “pussy-cat” hats and brandishing signs reclaiming their feminism, their country and their genatalia from forces threatening them. We were all there for the same purpose — to march down Independence Avenue, to gather and feel inspired and loved, to send a message to our new president and his cabinet that we the people were here and we were strong. The atmosphere was really indescribable — women and men and everyone in between showed up in full force, some from as near as Alexandria and as far as Los Angeles. The love and comraderie was palpable; on crammed Metro rides, where you were chest to chest with your neighbor, you found yourself meeting your new best friend from Boston. From Chicago. From Austin. From Tallahassee. From everywhere, all different backgrounds, genders, ethnicities and pronouns –and yet we were all here for the same reason. We were there to be heard. We were there to march. We were there to show the next four years that we are ready for them, that we are not going to take any of this lying down.
We were not only there to march. The Women’s March on Washington was so, so much more than a large group of women who wanted to complain about the outcome of the election (I hope you’re listening, Tomi Lahren). The WMOW was the beginning of a movement, of the take back of our country from the hate and prejudice and lies that cause the seemingly uncrossable rift between our neighbors. We were there, not only for women, but for the defense of (this is not an all-inclusive list, so bear with me): LGBTQIA+ rights. The right to a safe and legal abortion. Affordable healthcare. Education. The Black Lives Matter movement. Climate change. The protection of people of color. The Dakota Access Pipeline. The rights and liberties of disabled people. Planned Parenthood. And so, so much more. There were signs of every color, size, shape and length — some as simple as “This sucks,” some as fitting as “This pussy has teeth,” some as self-aware as “I was going to put my opinion, but I think it’s time white men shut up for a little.”
This march, which had an estimated more than one million attendees, aimed to protect the rights that have so often been threatened by our newly elected officials. We were there not beacuse it looked good on our Instagrams, but to stand in solitude with those of us that had had rights our entire lives and our sisters who had to keep fighting a little harder, and were not born into privelege. We were there not because we were bored and wanted something to do on a Saturday, but because we wanted to harness our fear into something positive and learn how to become more active. Micahel Moore, in a speech to the demonstrators, told us that this was only the beginning, and we had so much more to do. He told us to “join, join, join,” and gave us the numbers to call our local representatives (which is (202) 225-3121, for my fellow nasty women). We needed to be reminded that going to a march did not make us activists, but the march was only the begining–we have a lot of work to do.
We all recognized the next four(ish) years were going to be hard, but we could do it. We were reminded that “when it gets harder to love, we love harder.” We marched and rallied and protested to recognize how hard and nasty the next four years were going to be, but that we were nastier. We, the men and women and children and others, are proud Nasty Women. We are going to take everything Trump and his cabinet throws at us and block it, make it hard, make it near impossible to do anything without our consent. We were taking back our vaginas, our rights, our lives and our country and showing him who he works for. From D.C. to Antarctica, women stood up and told him, under no uncertain terms, that this is our America. Not his America, one built on hatred, misogny, sexism, xenophobia, transphobia and all of the -phobias an elderly white man can have. No, this is our America, one built on freedoms, rights, love and protests. We marched for that, and days after the march we can still feel the echoes of the inspiration that Gloria Steinem, Sophie Cruz, America Ferarra, Scarlett Johannsen and so many other incredible speakers instilled in us. The march was not a one and done deal — this is only the beginning. Hope you’re ready.
All photos by Chelsea Schmidt.