The Women's March, As Told By A First Time Protester
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The Women's March, As Told By A First Time Protester

We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. –Malala Yousafzai

The Women's March, As Told By A First Time Protester
WikiMedia Commons, Mark Dixon

You've no doubt heard about the Women's March on Washington, and odds are, you've seen a billion different opinions and viewpoints from all sides of the political spectrum. Your Facebook feed is probably cluttered with long rants about the very subject, from some girl you knew in high school sharing an article about how she, as a woman, does not need feminism, or from your left wing uncle who is vehemently for it. I'm going to contribute to this clutter now as I express how I felt participating in that March as someone who had never been able to participate in concrete political action before.

I was not able to vote in the 2016 presidential election due to my late birthday. Knowing that I would not be able to voice my opinion in the polls during such a crucial election crushed my spirits, and I did my very best to express my opinions vocally and on social media. The election soon became too much for my anxiety, and I eventually gave up on trying to convince others to do the right thing. Seeing the election results was devastating. I felt the country had just told me, a hispanic young woman from a lower-income background, that my safety and wellbeing did not matter, because they would rather have a man who used openly hateful dialect towards Mexicans, Muslims, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and many others while also openly bragging about his ability to commit sexual assault than a woman with actual political experience, because of emails and other things that should not have been a deal breaker, considering her opponent. But I digress.

I used the time in between the election and the inauguration to ignore politics and attempt to heal the great anxiety the election season had caused me. That bubble I had formed was burst, however, when the very campus that has become my home over the past semester was vandalized with phrases like "TRUMP BABY!" and "#DeportSpanos." The piece of the Berlin wall on campus, a symbol of the ending of the suppression of human rights, was also vandalized with "Trump 16!" I had never felt unsafe on Rice's campus, but when I saw the graffiti and vandalism that morning, my post-election anxiety rushed back in a wave. I had the privilege to push my anxiety away for a good amount of time, but many marginalized groups live with that all consuming fear and anxiety every day.

I decided to march in the Houston Women's March, a sister march to the Women's March on Washington, a day or two before the march itself. I remember texting my mom around one in the morning to let her know I was going to do it, not because I felt I needed her permission, but because I was worried about safety thanks to the often violent outcomes of other protests, and I knew if she expressed discomfort, I would not have marched. She was fully supportive of me, however, and told me to march, but be safe.

Two amazing friends joined me in the march. We made signs that read "when they go low, we go high," "hate does not make America great," and (the crowd favorite) "pu**y power" with cute cats. The Metro ride to the march site was filled with women, young and old, carrying signs of their own and talking about their reasons for marching with strangers they had just met. It was one of the best, most powerful experiences of girl power I had ever experienced.

Well, until the march itself.

The march was peaceful and civil and supportive. Not for one single moment did I feel afraid or worried or scared. I felt empowered, I felt wanted, I felt loved, and I felt love for these total strangers who marched by my side. There were women and men from all walks of life. There were black girls, gay girls, trans girls, young girls, old girls, male allies, all marching for different things, but with one goal in mind. They were demonstrating their commitment to fighting for ending violence, for reproductive rights, for LGBTQIA rights, for worker's rights, for civil rights, for the rights of those with disabilities, for immigrant rights, and for environmental justice–all things President Trump had campaigned against and attacked in his first ten days in office. It was a beautiful way to participate in a protest, to exercise our first amendment rights, and to let the President know that if he was going to threaten our livelihoods, we will push back. We will yell and scream and whisper and shout and write and type and text and tweet and donate and volunteer and we will not be silenced.

To those who do not understand why women marched or what rights we feel are being attacked, I implore you to research the platform that our president ran on, to read his words and the way he talks about marginalized groups. To those who marched or continue to be proponents of the unity principles of the march itself, I implore you to not become complacent. Protesting once is not enough. In fact, whether you agreed with the march or not, it is absolutely imperative that you contact your representatives, support organizations that support and uphold human rights, and be active participants in the democratic system. This country is beautiful when the people are in charge, not when we let congressmen and executives decide what we need without listening to their constituents.

So march on. Write on. Protest. Pray. Write. Assemble. Your voice is crucial to the system working the way it should. "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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