Attending the Women’s March On Washington, DC was not an easy thing for me to do physically , but I will always be glad that I did it. I have never been in a crowd so large, and probably many other people can also say this. Everywhere I looked, there were people, many women, but also men. There were young people, old people, and everywhere in between. There were families with children. It was peaceful, positive, joyful, and I felt safe throughout the day, even when the crowd was crushing and my friends and I were pushed together, surrounded on all sides, with no room to move. As a fifty-five year old woman who grew up in a physically, emotionally, verbally abusive home, and as a sexual assault survivor who didn’t feel safe until I was forty-seven years old, to say that I felt safe in such a large crowd for the entire day, is amazing to me.
People bumped into each other often due to how crowed the streets were, but we would say we were sorry or excuse me and the other person would said that’s okay, in a friendly, kind manner, and we went on our way. There was no hostility or even impatience. It was a peaceful, wonderful day. I grew tired and started to lose my balance more often, even with the use of my cane, and as I bumped into people, and apologized, they were still kind and friendly. This was a crowd of peaceful people.
Due to the large crowd, many people couldn’t even get close to the rally or the march, and still people remained patient. My friends and I stood with many others, possibly thousands that stood and waited patiently on streets far away from the rally and hoped to get into the line to march eventually. People talked quietly. Others simply stood quietly. I opened up my cane that could be converted into a seat and sat down. A younger woman was lying on a bench behind me. I apologized when I realized I had put my bottom right down, several feet way, but still in front of her face and moved down. She told me I was fine and invited me to lean against the fence between us and up against her so I could rest my back. She told me hers hurt. I told her mine did too, so I did lean back. My Aunt looked over a few minutes later. The kind younger woman said, “We’re keeping each other warm.” We actually were, although the temperature was much milder than I had thought it might be and being from Florida, I was grateful for that. This seemed like a small thing, but it was a kindness and in the spirit of the day of people helping others. Sitting for a while helped me a great deal.
As we sat there a young woman, perhaps nineteen or twenty came through with a friend around the same age. She said to her other friends that she was going to try to walk through the crowd to the front. She said she would hate to come all that way and not be in it. One of my aunt’s friends, older than me looked her right in the eyes and told her, “We are in it, just being here, we are in it.” As a fifty-five year old woman, I knew exactly what she meant. I knew how important it was that we were all there.
I didn’t know if the young woman got it. I remember being twenty, and having all of that energy and drive and feeling like I knew everything. No one could tell me anything then. It was such a shame that you had to learn so many things the hard way. The young woman ended up walking away. I wondered if she ever got into the actual march, and if she would remember that moment years from now and finally understand what my friend was saying.
“We are in it, just being here, we are all in it.” We were all in it, slightly over one million of us. It sent a loud and clear message and as obtuse as Trump and every person who claims it did nothing wants to say the March was, slightly over a million people in Washington, DC marching in the city carrying signs that sent a clear message, even many messages. The fact that so many people traveled from all over the country to come to Washington DC for a march said that we were not happy with the election of Donald Trump, that we do not support him or anything that he stands for. All of the signs that people made and carried spoke for themselves with messages about the environment, equal rights for all people, keeping funding for Planned Parenthood, keeping abortion legal, keeping the Affordable Care Act, not discriminating against gay people, against any minorities, and so many concerns. An older woman held a sign saying, ,”My Arms Hurt From Holding This Sign Since 1970″. There are pictures of protest signs everywhere on the internet as are videos of speeches that were made at the rally that day, and they were enthusiastically cheered by the crowds.
The messages of the March are out there, and they are clear. There were slightly over one million people there that day, and we are not happy with the direction our country is taking. We will hold you, Donald Trump and Congress, accountable. We are watching you. We will not be silent. Woman and men are not afraid of you, Trump. We are united. We are strong. We are intelligent, educated, organized, and informed. We are speaking up.
Trump and his supporters can deny and claim alternative truths all they want, but the truth will always be real and one thing, based on facts. One million people cannot be ignored. I was there. We were there. It happened.
On the metro on the way back home, it was packed full of people, mostly women but also some men and families. At one point, we were all crushed together with no room to move. We got a little more room when a few people got off later on. A few young women started talking to me, my aunt, and our friends. We talked about our days and jobs. One young woman said something that will always stay with me. She said that, “I have never felt so safe on the metro. I’m not worried about being groped. I’m not anxious.” She talked about how nice if felt. It made me happy that she felt so safe, and it reminded me of how safe I had felt all day.
It also made me feel sad because as women, as human beings, we should have that feeling of safety every day. We should be able to leave our homes and feel safe every day, but we don’t. I don’t, and certainly she doesn’t. One in three women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. I was sexually assaulted when I was seven. It changed me forever. Boys and men are also sexually assaulted. If you don’t know anyone who has been sexually assaulted, then someone in your life hasn’t felt safe in telling you. Women, men,and children should have the ability to feel safe in the world all of the time, so that is just one of the many reasons the marches will need to continue. Political action will need to continue.
So yes, one million women marched in Washington, DC on January 20, 2017 because as a nation we elected a man who admitted by describing his actions that he was a sexual predator. I had a problem with that. Many women had a problem with that. We wore our pussyhats because he said, “Grab them by the pussy.” We were sending a message, many but also that specific one, that we do not support Donald Trump and his attitude towards women. It was a sea of pink hats. Many women and many men do not support Donald Trump. It wasn’t just words. It wasn’t “locker room” talk. Women and men do not accept his behavior or his attitude towards women. It is not acceptable.
“We are in it. Just being here, we are all in it.” My new friend, Peggy, said it well. The many American men and women who do not support Donald Trump and his supporters will continue to be here, and we are in it. We are not going away. We will continue to hold you, Donald Trump and Congress, accountable. We are here, and we are not going away.