To March or Not To March?

Stretching for miles, hundreds of thousands of pink hats were visible throughout the mall in downtown Washington D.C. this past Saturday. People were squeezed throughout the streets, at times unable to move due to the size of the crowd. Signs that said “My Body, My Rights,” “Accept my Existence or Expect Resistance,” “Protect Planned Parenthood” and a host of others were on proud display. This was the scene of the Washington D.C. Women’s March, one of the many that took place around the world January 21.

The sheer size of the DC march just after a presidential inauguration made it a historic moment, one that members of the GDS community were actively able to experience. The march united nearly 500,000 people in trying to send a powerful message to the new administration, and many different social issues were vocalized; indeed, so many that it is impossible to say that the march was solely centered around one central issue. The GDS community had a variety of reactions to the march, as well as reasons for why they did or didn’t attend.

Sophomore Shira Minsk went to the march to advocate for the issues that were most important to her, though it was difficult for her to choose just one. “I don’t want to say I was marching for everything, but I was marching for a few issues that are more close to home for me, like women’s health care, equal pay, and against Trump’s proposed policies on race, immigration, and disability,” said Minsk. For her, the march was a liberating experience.“The march was beautiful and energizing, and it made me feel okay about the future. It felt like there was camaraderie.” Minsk was so motivated by the march that she continues to protest as often as she can. “I call Paul Ryan’s office daily to express my opinions about the Affordable Care Act,” said Minsk, “I’ve been calling and sending emails to oppose Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education as well.”

Others had a different perspective. Manning Martus, a senior, did not attend. “I didn’t feel like I was included in those who were marching,” said Martus. “And as someone who’s a conservative woman in D.C., that’s really hard. I’m pro-women, but I’m also a conservative, and I didn’t feel like there was a place for that in the march.” Additionally, Martus felt the march was not fully inclusive. “There were some pro-life groups that weren’t allowed to participate, which I thought was interesting because the point of the march was to be inclusive, but that didn’t include women who disagreed on abortion or other issues.” While Martus won’t likely attend any protests against the new administration, she does hope that America ceases to be a nation divided.  “I think at this point going forward we really need to focus on unifying the country, because we have a lot of work to do in terms of healing, and that includes not excluding different groups of women,” said Martus.

In contrast, history teacher Julie Stein was in support of the exclusion of pro-life organizations from the march. “I loved the fact that they were saying that in order to support women and in order to support people, you need to be supporting LGBTQ rights, you need to be supporting the pro-choice movement, you need to be supporting labor rights, and to me it felt like a recognition of how intersectional all of these different issues were.” Julie felt a certain responsibility to attend the march. “As a white person, me and other white people confront and deal with the fact that it was white people who elected Trump,” said Stein. Like many others, Julie wants to continue to move forward with the ideals of the march. “To me it’s also about just showing up. If this many people show up to a women’s march, are we going to show up to the next Black Lives Matter protest? I think the answer should be yes.”

With so many different issues being raised and so many conflicting opinions, it seems that it is up to each member of the GDS community to decide how they want to move forward as an individual. Will they continue to attend protests, try to fix the divide between Democrats and Republicans, or educate others on matters important to them?

By: Lucy Walker