Two Views of the Women’s March
Seattle Women’s March, 1.0
Like the name Black Lives Matter, the name Women’s March misleads some persons. These persons often see exclusivity only. But both groups have their names because society in so many ways throughout history has ignored what the speakers deem particularly important. Blacks and women have been here but for so long not represented on too many fronts; life, in varying degrees, is as if neither group was present. In response to someone who said he thought the march was for women only, I hastily responded that marchers represented many causes: voting rights, gun control, gerrymandering, money in politics, planned parenthood, education, housing, net neutrality, healthcare including drugs, alcoholism and mental health, Black Lives Matter, immigration, police brutality, climate change, LGBTQ rights, incarceration, environment. As soon as I finished, I wished I had taken longer because I wanted to add a few more causes.
The March is dubbed “Women’s March” because for so long women have been excluded from man-made decisions that affect women, the nation, the world. Consider that no women signed the Declaration of Independence nor helped write the Constitution of the United States. It took from 1776 until 1920, yes, 1920 for women to get the vote. Relying on Internet sources, I discovered the first woman to serve in Congress began her term in 1917; the first governors served in 1925; in 2006 and 2009, nine of our fifty governors were women; in 2018, 106 (79D, 27R) women hold seats in the United States Congress, comprising 19.8% of the 535 members; 22 women (22%) serve in the United States Senate.” (Depending on the source, women constitute 50.5% of the U. S. population.) Do you know how long Viagra has been covered by insurance? Do you know how long it took for insurance to cover birth control pills? Abortion? Who made these decisions? There was a time when the income of a woman of childbearing age was not considered when she and her husband attempted to purchase a house. (They had to purchase a less expensive house and, therefore, have less equity in that house now.) History books are filled with repression and suppression of women’s rights.
The intent of the March is to draw attention to these ills and correct them. The underrepresentation of women and their voices in local, state, and federal government accounts for the situation of women now. This holds true all over the world, some places obviously worse than others. A quick look at some of the many photographs and videos of the handmade and professionally made signs, some duplicates, some one of a kind on Facebook shows the many subjects for the protest. I have omitted signs containing profanity or obscene drawings.
Of course, there are signs speaking directly about and for women: “A woman’s place is in the House and the Senate”; “Women’s rights are not up for grabs”; “Females are strong as hell”; “Feminist is not a bad word”; “Phenomenal Woman”; “Oprah 2020”; “Well-behaved women rarely make history”; “Women of the World Unite”; “Stop violence against women, not because you have a sister, not because you have a mother, not because you have a daughter, because she is a person”; “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls and Women”; Little girls with big dreams become women with vision”; “Respect the sacred feminine”; “Still we rise”; “Nasty Women”; “Nasty Women Unite”; “Nevertheless, she persisted”; “Women’s rights are here to stay, ho, ho, hey, hey”; “Feminism without borders”; “Girls just want to have fundamental rights”; “I can’t feel my rights when I’m with you, and I hate it.”
One last sign, a sign I saw in the hands of only one person, says, “White women voted for Donald Trump 53%, Roy Moore, 63%, Mitt Romney 56% John McCain 53%, George Bush 55%.” I hope all marchers know about this sign. The Internet has copious theories about this phenomenon. Marches notwithstanding, we Americans will continue to have problems until we have a more balanced representation in each of our branches of government, until more of us are more informed about the candidates and the issues, until more of us value our right to vote and exercise that right whenever the opportunity is presented.
Monday, January 15th, was the day to march in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and be reminded of a quote that showed up often in the Women’s March: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Saturday’s marches, with the many different causes espoused by such diverse groups, reminded me of another of his quotes: “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
On January 22, many persons in Washington marched, lobbied, rallied, visited lawmakers in Olympia. These activities are good, but they last a day. They are the tip of the iceberg, a big tip, perhaps, but a tip. The work must take place throughout the year, after we lay down our signs. If we want to make Dr. King’s dream a reality in this fiftieth year after he was assassinated, this fiftieth year that so many of us still plead for much of what we asked for much longer than fifty years ago, we must work more than a day or two a year.
I believe more individuals—not enough—than ever before are more aware of the injustice in places near and far, and if all of us take seriously what we know and implement what we know, we can come closer to all of us enjoying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
~Georgia S. McDade, Ph. D.
Seattle Women’s March, 2.0
As we loped down E. Alder toward the lake on January 20, on our way to catch the #2, we caught the whiff of a happening. Folks came up Erie, and followed our path. Cars honked at my husband’s pink hat. And when we arrived at the bus turnaround at Lake Washington Boulevard and Denny, two women approached with signs that confirmed our instincts: Grab ‘Em by the Midterms and Screw Us and We Multiply.
As the bus made its way up Denny and onto 34th, individuals and families clambered aboard with signs, pink hats and enthusiasm. By Union and MLK, every seat was taken and it was standing room only. We arrived at Cal Anderson Park after 11am to witness the throngs at the rally that had gotten underway a good hour before. Cheers, impatience and barely contained energy ruled for the next hour.
Once underway, after a powerful and moving drumming- and fire-infused ceremony, the march was led by Native Americans representing missing and murdered Indigenous women. The marchers filed down Pine Street with signs and good spirits under the dark and occasionally spitting clouds. While the numbers were not on par with last year’s extraordinary turnout, the size of the crowd was impressive. KOMO reported some 100,000 turned out for what proved a glorious celebration of the First Amendment’s guarantee of fundamental rights: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly (there was also a counter-protest) and freedom to practice religion (the latter illustrated by two proclamations waving next to one another on Fourth Avenue: Jesus Died for our Sins and Jesus is Weed).
The creativity and determination of the participants were palpable. Some of our favorite signs included the serious: “Forget Princess—call me President” (flourished by a young female); “Man Up and Support Women’s Rights” (carried by a young male college student); “Keep Your Tiny Hands Off Medicare, Social Security” (hoisted by a ‘senior’); “I’m with Her and her and her and her...” (held up by many middle-aged men); “I’ll Take Some of His” (displayed by a woman seeking equal rights).
And then there were the inevitably irreverent: “Orange is the New Red” (featuring Trump and Putin); “Cheetos are for Breakfast, Not for the White House”; “Show Us Your Girther Certificate.” And the irony of marching past the Paramount sign promoting Hamilton was not lost on all.
While I’m not certain that young people were out in the same force as they were last year, among our group of six, we each ran into someone we knew from beyond our neighborhood, a welcome reminder that our city shares values of equality and justice.
After the march ended at Seattle Center, we hopped back on the #2 bus and were whisked back to 34th and Union. A shout out to public transport!