What Democracy Looks Like // Dispatches from the Women's March on London, Washington, and These American Cities
On January 21st, 2017, millions of people around the globe marched in solidarity with women for a platform sparked by the guiding principles of the Women's March on Washington. Estimated to be the largest one-day march in U.S. history alone, with three times as many people in attendance than at Trump's inauguration, the Women's March on Washington and the many sister marches of the world unified people from all walks of life under this platform: a call for civil rights, immigrant rights, reproductive freedom, LGBTQIA rights, environmental justice, and against violence. Women, nonbinary folks, men, and children took to the streets of every continent [thanks, Antartica!] to demand intersectional liberties and justice for all.
Here we have gathered photos and stories from American cities: New York, Pittsburgh, Santa Cruz, Seattle, and Washington, D.C, and of London, England. Boshemia staff writers Q and L share their experiences of marching on London together, and E reflects her experiences of marching on Washington, D.C.
This handful of testimonies is only a sample of the diverse lives who took to the streets of the world yesterday. We are grateful to our friends of the blog who have shared their stories and photographs with us.
London, England || Boshemia staff Q & L
"God knows I hate early starts, but waking up at 4:00 somehow wasn’t that much of a chore (I mean it was a chore, it was 4 am, but it wasn’t that much of a chore). I was ready to wake up, do something, and actually make a difference, even if it meant spending a total of 8 hours on a coach; worth every second.
When we arrived in London, we saw the occasional sign and pink pussy hat peppered through the crowds of everyday Londoners and I immediately got more excited; this was an actual thing. It wasn’t one of those Facebook events where everyone says they’re going to go and no one does (aka, every birthday party I’ve ever hosted #tooreal). People were actually moved enough to make signs and wake up early and deal with the London … London-ness (I haven’t been to London in over five years and hoo boy does that city move quickly). Thankfully, despite a massive turnout, the day ran smoothly. Sure, we got stuck in Grosvenor Square for a while, but that’s just how large crowds and small exits work. It was inspiring to be walking around with men and women of all generations and backgrounds as we joined in chants, admired the signs, and participated in the Mexican Wave of cheers and whoops. The day went off without a hitch, and my paranoia about riots, looting and thefts were completely unfounded – major props to the team who organised, the day went off so smoothly.
January 21st was such a beautiful feat of female togetherness that even Antarctica felt the need to get involved; it wasn’t just about Donald Trump, it was about all women who have suffered under the toxic misogyny and jingoism that Trump stands for; it was about the sexist portrayal of Hillary Clinton in the media; it was about Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was mercilessly killed for daring to stand up against the hatred that was infecting British politics. It was about so much more than one fake tanned man, and it sends the message that we are watching. Just because Donald Trump was accidentally voted in doesn’t mean that the world has to be okay with his harmful policies and rhetoric. Just because Brexit barely won doesn’t mean we’re okay with the rise in nationalism and islamophobia. Just because “we lost,” doesn’t mean it’s over – it’s now our duty to hold our elected officials to a higher standard and make them understand that we’re watching. To the people who’ve felt forgotten or neglected or abused by the current status quo: rise up and let’s make history. It has just begun." - Q
"The Women’s March on London was perfect. Inclusive, passionate, peaceful, loud; an atmosphere of solidarity and sisterhood, and all-around positive vibes. The rage of 100,000 people was palpable, electric, and made the march feel very personal. We brought London to a standstill, and alongside millions of other women worldwide we demanded to be seen and heard.
There’s something very profound about getting a visual, immersive image of just how many humans share the same inclusive views as yourself. You know they’re out there, but there is so much shit in the world and so much negative news being thrown at us constantly that it is very easy to have your vision clouded, to get worn down, to feel as though there is no hope, and to forget the scale and strength of the feminist community. Days like yesterday give a reinvigorated sense of hope and vitality; they remind you that the fight is bigger than you can perceive in your day-to-day existence, that everywhere women are stirring on the cusp of feminist revolution.
Yesterday was just one day, though. When the streets have been cleared and the signs stowed away, we can’t be complacent and go back to the daily grind. Every single one of the several million people who marched on Saturday 21st January 2017 needs to take the flame that burned in them during their march and spread it around, tend to it and grow it into a worldwide inferno of feminist uprising.
March for women’s rights; march for people of colour; march for LGBTQ+; march for ALL WOMEN.
Take whatever privileges you have and use them for positive change. Don’t duck your head and pretend it isn’t happening.Do something.
Silence is not an option. By staying silent in the face of injustice you become no better than the Cheeto-in-Chief himself. Everyone needs to up their game. Everyone. Every. Damn. One." - L
New York, New York
"Yesterday I joined nearly half a million humans for the Women’s March on New York City. Back home in Portland, my community came together in the rain— mentors, professors, friends, and their puppies. A two-hour drive south of my hometown, four generations of my family stood in Denver under cold Colorado sunshine. Our proud matriarch, the daughter of polish emigrants, her children, her grandchildren and brand new great grandson. It’s difficult to describe this feeling of solidarity. Hard to find the words to draw it out, to make it sound unique. It feels unique. It is reassuring. It is warm and bright. Clear and strong. It is rooted deep in the core of me, full with the knowledge that every aspect of me is mirrored in others, respected, heard, upheld. There is momentum here, in my center— deep commitment to a return to community, the excitement of new beginnings. I feel grateful to stand on the shoulders of the giants that have cleared the way for me to stand today— queer, female, and powerful. All day, above everything, one of New York’s chants has echoed in my head 'welcome to the first day/we will not go away.' There are stories to be told. There are voices to be amplified. There is work to be done, and we have the people to do it." - Tyne Zewadski Clifton, Portland
"Still NOT asking for it!" -Maura Reiff, Pittsburgh
Santa Cruz, California
"Nasty women stand up." -Kelsey Stoneberger, Sacremento
"I was dressed as a suffragette in mourning. A bit political." - Ryan McAtee, Seattle
"It was an honor to march for equality with my fellow women surrounded by unity and love." -Aja Bailey, Charles Town
"Every voice from the deepest and loudest baritones to the most fragile whispers of young children proclaimed the names of Sandra Bland and Natasha McKenna, of India Monroe and Deeniquia Dodds, demanding that we protect and preserve the lives of women and trans* women of color, the demographics most likely to experience gender and sex-related hate crimes and violence. An overflowing crowd agreed to follow Gloria Steinem's proclamation that should a Muslim registry go into effect, we will ALL register." -Khristian Smith, Charlottesville
"In a sea of men, women, and children from all walks of life, today I marched [while proudly wearing a pink pussy hat knitted by a friend who couldn't attend the March herself] for what I believe in. I marched for issues like equal rights for everyone and anyone who has ever felt marginalized, marriage equality, reproductive rights, the environment, for immigrants like me, and for the future of these little women on my pin and then some!" -Pang Tubhirun, Shepherdstown
"Ryenne [my daughter] deserves the whole dollar as opposed to the 75 cents to man's whole dollar that she would actually earn if she were in the working field today. If we can't promise this by the time she's working age, what are we doing as a country? My child's gender does not negatively impact her extraordinary ability." - Elisha Carter, Martinsburg
"It was breathtaking. I had never felt such purpose, such pride in being an American woman. I felt like everything I had fought for had led to this day, to walk the streets of this city; to be in the company of women and their children marching for tomorrow; to be holding the hand of my friend's almost-three-year-old daughter as she sang songs and cheered cheers and smiled the whole way; to march in the January chill, in my city, with almost a million people from the corners of this country—it was an incredible honor.
The march ignited a light in me that will never go dark." -E, Washington D.C.
"I showed up and held up a sign. Showing up is important, and solidarity is important, but I'm also coming from a place of extreme privilege, and this is a pretty low-risk act. If I had to quantify it, the bulk of my respect lies with those who are truly in danger from this administration, who risk their safety merely by being who they are in public, who - despite those risks - showed up strong and exuberant and ready to fight for justice." - Rex Lee, Washington
"Peace is possible." -Kyra Soleil, Shepherdstown
To everyone who contributed to this post, and who marched with us and for us yesterday, thank you, a million times over.
To continue the work that has begun, look to the Women's March for 10 actions for the first 100 days of Trump's presidency. Boshemia will be watching and we are with you.