Women Take to The Streets

Crowds gather at Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park on Jan. 20 for the second annual Women’s March to protect social injustice.

As crowds of people march together through the streets of downtown Seattle, a singular woman yells into the air, “What does democracy look like?” and a throng of voices respond, “This is what democracy looks like!”

People brandish signs that illustrate their beliefs in equality for all races, sexes, ages, religions, and genders as they express their right to peacefully demonstrate.

    Tens of thousands gathered in Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park on Saturday, Jan. 20 to participate in the second annual Women’s March. This year’s march was put on by Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women of Seattle, an organization dedicated to spreading awareness of the common violence against indigenous women. Before the march began, members of the organization and many other speakers, including Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, talked to the crowds about their stories of fighting social injustice.

    Deputy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, ACLU, Michele Storms spoke of the many issues her organization is working on today. Privacy and surveillance, access to reproductive healthcare, ending mass incarceration, and the travel ban on Muslim countries, and the importance of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, are just a few of the many issues that ACLU fights for.

    “It’s really powerful for people to show up and demonstrate that they believe in democracy and in the freedoms that our Constitution has promised us,” Storms said. “Right now, all of that is very much at risk.”

    Storms emphasized how important it is for young people today to understand the contents of the Constitution and our rights as people. She believes that understanding your rights is the first step to fighting for them.

    “Young people are everything,” Storms said. “Even before you can vote, you can do voter registration and volunteer with organizations that are fighting on behalf of whatever you believe in. And, of course, once you can vote, you should be voting!”

    Youth participation was significant at the 2018 Women’s March, with some children as young as five years old holding signs high over their heads that read “Girl Power” and “My body, my choice.”

    There has been some outcry this year against feminists who wear pussyhats and use signs with references to female body parts on them, as some believe that this excludes transgender women from the narrative.

    Hale alumni and transgender woman Jace MacKenzie-Rowlan disagrees with this opinion and believes that references to the female body during the Women’s March are not meant to be offensive.

   “I don’t think that it’s exclusive, it’s a way to show that you’re proud of your body,” MacKenzie-Rowland said. “I think the Women’s March is important to all women, regardless of being transgender or cisgender. We are all women.”

    Although MacKenzie-Rowland believes that the pussyhats and anatomical references are not excluding transgender women, she does think that people could be more involved with the transgender community around them.

    “Don’t be afraid to get to know a transgender group at a march. Check out a transgender support group at [the Pride Parade] or other organizations,” MacKenzie-Rowland said. “It’s time to be proud to be a woman and to bring light to the injustice women face in their lives.”

Hale parent Lhorna Murray worked as a co-organizer of the Women’s March as a part of the Be the Change Network, an organization that promotes nonviolent action. Murray’s responsibilities for the march included managing all of the speakers for the event and keeping everyone on schedule.

    “When I come to the march, I’m coming for the solidarity and to lift each other up as women,” Murray said. “I also want to stay aware of what other people’s causes are and this intersectionality we share.”

    Murray became involved in the community organizing for the 2018 Women’s March after participating in the last Women’s March and deciding that she wanted to do more.

    “Right now, we have a lot of systems that are working against us and are trying to take back the progress that has taken hundreds of years for our country to make,” Murray said. “That’s why it’s important that everyone has a voice and uses it.”

    The march was roughly two and a half miles long, starting at Cal Anderson Park at 11:30 a.m. and moving past Westlake Center to conclude at Seattle Center by midafternoon.

The 2018 Women’s March had tens of thousands of participants in Seattle, according to an estimate by the Seattle police. There were also large turnouts in New York City and Los Angeles. Last year, an estimated 120,000 people took to the streets of Seattle to protest at the Women’s March the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Over a year later, the movement is still going strong and Storms advises youth to put their energy into social justice issues they care about.

“Stay on fire!” Storms said. “You high school students, don’t get apathetic or despairing, we can’t give up. Have compassion and keeping working.”

Photo By: Zach Heffron

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