Last weekend, alongside hundreds of thousands of others, I marched on Washington to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump.
When I first signed up to go (I went with my University) I did so with a glowing sense of pride. After all, Alice Paul marched on Washington in the suffrage parade that she organized in 1913. At that time women did not have the right to vote, and were basically thought of as inconsequential. While we do now have the right to vote, unfortunately the way in which our society views women has not changed much. By marching in Washington D.C. I would be following in Alice Paul's footsteps, something that caused me a great deal of happiness whenever I thought about it. I'll admit though, as it began to get closer and closer to the actual date, I started to become somewhat terrified. I had never done anything like this before. What if things got out of control? Would the atmosphere be as positive as I hoped it would be? Would I be safe? What could I expect?
It was absolutely glorious.
They were anticipating around 200,000 people to attend, and I think by the end they estimated that there were over 600,000 people that ended up going. Think about that for a minute. 600,000 people all in one city, united in their hopes, dreams, and positive energy.
And that positive energy did flow.
The National Guard was there, as well as numerous police officers and fire officials, and they couldn't be more accommodating. I felt safe, completely so. There wasn't any time during the day where I felt as if I were in any sort of danger.
How can I describe what that day was like?
At the rally we were all crammed up against each other, at some moments so tightly that you couldn't even turn around, or bend over, without bumping into someone. And yet I didn't at any point feel cramped or confined, despite my anxiety in crowds. The protesters (at least all the ones that I talked to, and those who were near me) were amiable, funny, and kind. The whole day was just an overabundance of sensory stimulation, but in a good way. The colorful messages on the signs that people carried, the sea of pink hats, the endless range of ages and ethnicities, the deafening roar of the crowd, the laughter, the tears, the empowerment. It was a day of vibrant emotions and sisterhood as I have never before experienced.
I am honored, proud, and still brimming over with happiness that I got to participate in such a historic event.
I know Donald Trump is now our President and that's likely not going to change, despite the success of the march.
But I do feel much better about the situation because I now fully understand that I am not alone. There are tons and tons of others who feel exactly the same way I do. And we're not going to stand idly by and have our rights trampled on.
We have a long, long way to go.
But this was a great first step.
Since the women's march, I have seen an outpouring of anger and resentment from other women towards myself and my sisters that participated that day, which saddens and confuses me as I'm not exactly sure why our protest was so offensive to some. If you yourself have never felt the wounds from discrimination in any form based on your gender, then you are very lucky and I am glad for you. But there are hundreds of thousands of women who feel otherwise. Last weekend proved that. Respect us and we'll respect you. Because really, when it comes down to it, that is what this whole thing is about. Respect for each other, even if you don't see eye to eye. We'll never be able to move forward if we don't work together and respect each other as human beings. As Marvin Ashton once said, “If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.”