Women’s Marches Persist!

Photo credit: Sharayah Bower

I often find myself reminiscing about (and reflecting on) the women’s marches that took place last year.  Being in D.C. alongside my closest friends was truly an unforgettable experience! Never in my life have I felt so supported by the people surrounding me. And most of those people were strangers—though in that moment, they didn’t feel like strangers. It was a unifying experience, which I believe is why so many people have, and continue to, attack and degrade our efforts.

What people like Tomi Lahren do not understand is that we didn’t march that day only to protest Trump’s Presidential win. We marched to protest lifetimes of injustices against women.

What we did that day was good. We showed love and support for each other. We chanted. We demanded more respect from our newly elected President. We celebrated ourselves. We laughed. We cried out in anger. We expressed our intersectionality. We demonstrated that when we come together, we are a brilliant and powerful force. We inspired the world. And that is not an understatement!

That day will always mean a great deal to me. That day gave me hope as a woman who has been abused, harassed, raped, and neglected by her society. No snarky, ignorant comments will take away what that day meant for so many of us.

***

About a month ago, my fiancé—Jaron—and I signed up to help the Philly Women Who Rally plan and execute a second Philadelphia women’s march. We were excited to be volunteers especially after realizing how much work and preparation goes into making these marches possible, inclusive, and safe.

About a  week before the march, we were assigned our roles and time slots. Around the same time, rumors began circulating via social media that police would be setting up checkpoints and frisking people. It turns out those rumors were untrue:

Deputy Police Commissioner Dennis Wilson said rumors that police would be ‘stopping and frisking’ attendees were not accurate, adding: ‘We’re not infringing on anyone’s First Amendment rights in any way.’”

While attending the march, I did not see police stop anyone, nor did I see police frisk people. I’m not sure if the rumors were created by people who wanted to sabotage the march or by people who have every right to be genuinely concerned about police involvement. Whatever the reason, I’m glad the march turned out to be a safe place for many women, and I’m happy for those who stayed home to be safe.

***

When I woke up early Saturday, January 20th, I was nervous about the rumors and police involvement (in the same sense I was worried when my friends and I marched last year), but I signed up for a volunteer shift and wanted to keep my word. So Jaron and I dressed in on our favorite feminist gear, grabbed some caffeine, and headed to the meeting spot located near the Philly Art Museum. Initially, I felt pretty sluggish since I was trying to fight off a cold of some sort, but I was excited to immerse myself in good company.

When we arrived, there was already a buzz of volunteers eager to organize. Lanyards and paperwork were passed out. The smells of coffee and fresh pens filled my nose. It was chilly outside but the sun began peeking through whisked clouds. It was shaping to be a beautiful, warm day.

While we waited for our orders and directions, the pep rally stage was being built at the foot of the Art Museum steps, porta-potties were placed, police began blocking off streets, directional signs were being hung to guide women to breastfeeding tents, voter registration areas and more.

There is a lot of invisible labor that happens to make these events possible. This was a process I did not have the opportunity to see last year when I marched in D.C. I’m thankful for all the work these people put in to make marchers safe and comfortable.

***

The Philly Women Who Rally organizers assigned Jaron and me a four-hour shift designated to help register people to vote and to make sure marchers had their voter information up-to-date/the info they needed in order to prepare for the midterms elections. In general, we were encouraged to engage in meaningful conversations about voting. That’s exactly what we found ourselves doing.

While marchers began arriving at the designated meeting spot, Logan Square, we made sure to be visible. Between 7:00am-8: 30 am we spoke with many people, both marchers and local news reporters, who were relieved to have survived a year of Trump. We talked about getting to the polls. We discussed the many injustices that happen in the polling place. We spoke about the midterms elections. And we talked about the huge breakthrough in the PA gerrymandering case.

We also encouraged young people to be excited about registering to vote. I mean, they should be excited to vote! Our culture needs to inspire younger generations to be more involved in their communities. Seeing so many young people march is certainly a great start, but as many of us know, demonstrating is only one aspect of political involvement.

Overall, Jaron and I had a great time meeting and speaking with the people attending the march about voting. We were also thanked by so many kind and energetic people for simply being out there with our pens and voter registration forms. I didn’t expect to feel so appreciated. Similar to last year’s women’s march, we were treated entirely with respect and kindness. It made me feel great, but unfortunately, I started coming down with a fever soon after our shift ended.  We ended heading home, so I could lay down. I was bummed, but I knew the march would carry on without me.

***

It didn’t take long for conservative commentators like Tomi to trash talk our women’s march again, but I was shocked to see Trump try to take credit for our efforts.

Fox news also celebrated Trump’s supposed milestone…

But when it comes down to the facts, he has not established any sort of milestone for women workers. According to Eugene Kiely’s article, “A Misleading Talking Point on Women Workers,” via FactCheck.org:

“It’s true that 863,000 women joined the workforce during the president’s first 11 months in office, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But that’s 34 percent less than the number of women workers that were added over the same period, from January to December, in each of the last two years.”

Nice try Trump! But no worries, the reason so many of us march in protest is that WE plan to change that statistic.We are not depending on you.

Not surprisingly, Trump also tried to take credit for the lowest black unemployment rate in a tweet response to famous rap and hip-hop artist, JZ. But when we look at the facts, Trump is clearly not the person to thank:

“While it’s true that the black unemployment rate recently reached its lowest level in decades, the rate has been in steady decline for about the last seven years. A similar drop of 1 percentage point was recorded during the same 11-month period in 2016. The drop was even more pronounced in each of the three years before that. It fell 1.9 percentage points in 2015, 1.5 percentage points in 2014 and 1.8 percentage points in 2013.

 

In other words, the downward trend has continued under Trump, albeit at a slower pace than in recent years.”

So #thanksObama! Simple math shows that Obama has served as our President for the past eight years… while Trump has been in office for one (somehow). Trump is literally taking credit for work that our black president and administration did… for our black working communities!

 

It disgusting how Trump is attempting to take credit for successful people he openly oppresses. No Trump, we are not doing better for ourselves because you grab women by their pussies or call other countries shitholes. We are great because we know we have so much work to do as long as people think and act like you.

***

What I must often remind myself is that Trump’s absurd tweets, nor Tomi’s hateful Youtube videos, will never ruin or negate our efforts.

All and all I’m glad I attended the march this year, but I am sorry I couldn’t stay to rally. As I said above, I needed some rest so I could sweat out my fever. But when I woke up from my sick nap—in that dazed, drool crusted face state—I was delighted to see how our momentum persists!  Women’s marches across the globe (again) hit every social media outlet. I had so many pleasant flashbacks to last year. Despite this awful year, we still can come together to create something powerful and positive.

We are strong.

Thank you, everyone, who demonstrated this past year! Thank you to everyone who demonstrates every single day. Your positivity and strength continue to give hope that we can change the world to be a better place where ALL women can live and thrive.

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About Sharayah Bower 12 Articles
Sharayah Bower is a Kutztown University alumni with a Master's degree in English. She has focused closely on African American and Indigenous feminine texts and plans to pursue a PhD program where she can further her studying, knowledge, and awareness about these cultures and their contemporary issues (especially those regarding gender and rape culture). In the near future, she intends to teach English and Composition by focusing closely on narrative writing as an attempt to more effectively educate others about--and counter--rape culture. She also enjoys tutoring others with their writing because it has only helped to improve her own.