The day after they took office following an election cycle fraught with racist, sexist, homophobic rhetoric, millions of women and allies gathered around the nation to demonstrate their resistance against the new government. Among these demonstrators were numerous Bates students, who traveled to D.C, New York, Boston, and various towns around Maine to stand in solidarity with the women of our nation. Here are some snippets of their experiences:
It was empowering and beautiful to be surrounded by so many strong, loving and feisty woman after an incredibly bruising campaign. I hope that this marks the beginning of a movement and not a moment in time. The day was not only a rallying call for women, but an opportunity for everyone who believes in equality and democracy.
– Honor Moshay ‘17
I know that the march was not ever meant to be anti-Trump; rather an affirmation of belief in the worth of individuals who have been marginalized by patriarchal systems—women, men, LGBTQ+, Latino/a, Muslim, Black, refugee etc. Even so, I was marching because it I needed to physically demonstrate my contempt and resistance against everything that he and the people that support him believe in. I truly believe that good has come out of this election, if only to make people feel the need to mobilize against hatred on a scale I have never seen before in my lifetime. Do I think that it is enough? Absolutely not. However, I am hopeful after seeing the turnout at the march, and the love that I saw among protesters that had never met each other, that we could finally start seeing actual consistent activism from people that chose to be silent before.
– Anna Luiza Mendonça ‘18
I attended the Women’s March in Boston. One of the things that struck me about the experience was the ages of the marchers. The college-aged marchers were alongside young parents with children in strollers, alongside elementary age children with their handmade signs, next to older women telling stories of all the marches they have been to throughout their lives, among college aged marchers and elderly marchers and every age in between. Nobody was too young or too old to get out there and stand in solidarity of their beliefs. The atmosphere was serious but joyful, with people laughing with delight at each others signs and pointing out unique ones to their friends. At points there was underlying tension due to the extreme crowdedness during the speeches, but people were respectful and made sure friends and families did not get separated in the moving throngs. We had been warned there would be poor cell service, but we were shocked by just how real that was. At the march there was almost no cell service: calls were impossible, and only about every hour or so would texts come through, with very limited ability to send texts out. When my group first arrived to Boston Commons my friend saw two women with maybe 6 or 7 signs. She thought they might be selling them, so she went over and asked. They replied that they were not selling them, they had just made them for themselves and their friends, but they gave my friend one of their signs for free. It was such a powerful experience to be in the midst of the crowd on the backside of the hill in Boston Common, not even able to see the stage or the speakers but hearing Elizabeth Warren’s voice ring out over the crowds, which responded to her words with cheers and claps. The older women around me would shout “YES” when they particularly agreed with her, though the crowds were surprisingly quiet, all straining our ears to listen to someone we could not see.
– Chandler Ryan ‘17
I felt completely safe and supported. There was no violence. An older woman who was trying to march fainted and a little boy gave her his jacket as a pillow and waited with her until an Ambulance arrived. The atmosphere was one of mutual support for many voices and campaigns for social justice. I felt very calm even though crowds usually make me uncomfortable.
– Kate McNally ‘17
I went to the march in Augusta. While it would have been awesome to attend a march in a bigger city, I thought that at least some representation from many smaller cities across the US was just as important as one huge one in DC. I also think it is important to allow people who do not have the means to get to DC the opportunity to be able to participate in the March. The one in Augusta was very safe, I felt, but somewhat exclusive to white cis-norm females; “this pussy grabs back” signs, pictures of ovaries, and the pink pussy hats were dominating. I could not hear the speakers very well but I remember hearing many of their goals surrounded putting women in office and keeping abortions legal, which I very much believe in and respect, but these goals are not a priority for women of color or women of other marginalized groups. I think the speakers definitely knew they were speaking to a majority white community; however that could have altered what they chose their agenda to be. I would have liked to see and hear more signs and speeches that were POC, LGBTQ, immigrant, Trans/gender non-binary and (dis)abled inclusive (although I understand that is a lot to ask for). Protesting, I think, is important, not necessarily to change things but to evoke, energize, and encourage the desire for change. I know I at least felt stuck and helpless after election day and just knowing that this many women showed up made me feel less stuck. Although it is a tiny change, it is a change regardless.
– Monata Song ‘17
The Women’s March in DC was amazing: being in a majority female crowd listening to politicians, activists, celebrities and feminist icons express their anger and determination was incredibly inspiring. It was kind of like a group therapy session, where hundreds of thousands of people came together to scream to the world (and especially at the White House) that we will not allow bigotry and ignorance to divide us. The march created a really strong sense of community and passion that I hope only gets stronger over the next 4 years.
– Haley Crim ‘20
I have never heard the words pussy, cunt, or bitch used with such pride and positivity as I did on Saturday. The women’s march in D.C. was an experience like no other and demonstrated just how much strength and courage it takes to be a woman. My sisters and I were surrounded by women of all backgrounds and yet our message was the same. We were all honored to represent pussy power on Trump’s first day in office. The crowds took up what seemed to be the entirety of D.C. and the message we spread was loud and clear, women want change. Now.
– Julia Panepinto ‘20
The women’s march was more than just a 7 or 8 hour gathering in DC, it was also the travel to and from being surrounded with overwhelming positivity and love. On the drive down cars packed with people waved and honked at us with smiles plastered on everyone’s faces and rest stops were packed with march-goers in pussy hats. One of the most amazing sights was the metro that morning packed with people holding signs high and waves of chants and cheering spreading through the crowd. The crowd on the streets above were beyond anything I (or the organizers) had ever expected. The entire experience was an outpouring of support of people of all races, religions, genders, abilities, sexual orientation, and ages and a motivational force for future action.
– Ella Livesay ‘17