Real Perspectives from the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

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A Note From the Editor: At Darling, we think that Saturday, January 21, 2017 was a historic moment. Not because a specific agenda or political side “won.” Not because certain politicians were revered or reviled. But because so many individuals came together for something larger than themselves. We hope that the Women’s March will be remembered as more than an event, but truly the beginning of building bridges to opposite sides. We want to approach the coming weeks and months believing the best about our fellow women and men, and we want to actually take the time to understand where different perspectives are coming from. 

We all have something to say in regards to what it means to be a woman, a feminist, a pursuer of equality, and below is our attempt at creating the space to hear it.

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Written by Mikki Brammer:

On a crisp Saturday morning in Washington, D.C., a sea of pink hats radiated against the muted grays of the winter sky. From across the country, more than half a million women, men and children of all ages gathered together in solidarity.

So many people had shown up to lend their voice to the Women’s March on Washington, in fact, that crowds soon began to overflow far beyond the original planned route. By early afternoon, everywhere you looked, the streets, sidewalks and even monuments were brimming with people standing side-by-side in their shared vision for gender equality.

Admittedly, it was a tight squeeze, and for many the trek to the march itself was tiring and arduous – an excruciatingly early morning, long bus ride, and hours spent waiting in line. And yet there was an unmistakable vibe that permeated the entire event: love, positivity and passion for empowered change. There were infectious smiles in every direction, laughter, singing, and spontaneous cheers in densely crowded metro stations. (In one marcher’s words, “I’m not usually a cheerer, but today’s an exception.”)

As we stood together in spirited celebration, alongside old friends and new, one thing was clear – we must keep this passion for change alive long after this inspiring, historic day. Or as America Ferrera, co-chair of the march’s Artist Table, put it,  “This is only day one of our united movement.”

We asked marchers in D.C. what feminism means to them. Here’s what they told us:

“I’m still learning about feminism, having had so many wonderful women step into my life over the years. But as I am wrapping my mind around it, my understanding of it is that it’s the power that I, as a woman, hold to protect and influence others in speech, action and care.” Lindsey S., 26, Charleston, South Carolina.

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“Feminism is bigger than equal rights. It’s about equal respect – respect for both women’s minds and bodies. Our foremothers started our fight and now it’s our responsibility to keep the battle going.” Shannon S., 38, New York, New York

“I think feminism is about allowing people to be fully realized individuals, regardless of gender. That means educating people about gender disparity and gender stereotypes, both those that negatively impact women – the pay gap, unfair beauty standards, lack of representation in positions of power – and also those that negatively impact men, like warped views of ‘masculinity’ or pressures to be the financial providers for their families. My hope is that as we break down barriers for women, we do the same for men, so that we can all live up to our highest potential. I very proudly wear the label ‘feminist’ and believe that to fully embody that label, I have a responsibility to speak up about gender disparity. If you don’t see the inequality, you can’t fix it.” Liz R., 31, Brooklyn, New York

… we must keep this passion for change alive long after this inspiring, historic day.

“It means lifting people up and making sure that they all have the same advantages as you do, and keeping people empowered together.” Blair H., 26, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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“Our children innocently enter into this world, not by choice, but by nature. They’re not born feeling prejudice against others or feeling superior to others – those concepts are taught to them, absorbed by them, tragically. Until that ceases, it’s my responsibility to be a feminist – an active one – and teach my two young sons to be feminists to make sexism obsolete.” Leila R., 42, Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina

It means being pro-woman, which does not mean being ‘anti’ anything else. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being ‘pro’ a group of people, so for me feminism is a very positive and empowering thing because there are plenty of anti-women and anti-other forces in the world.” Vicky A., 48, Washington, DC

“To me the term, philosophy – whatever you want to call it – is simple and it has been needlessly and, in some cases, maliciously misrepresented by people who are scared of it. To me, feminism means women should have all the same rights, privileges and respect that men enjoy, and that’s it. It means not being objectified, marginalized or commodified. It shouldn’t be a controversial concept and yet the idea of women truly being treated equal is profoundly upsetting to people – sadly, in both genders – who want to preserve the status quo.” Adam H., 34,  Brooklyn, New York

“For me, feminism represents power and opportunity for my daughter.” Betsy D., 52, Nashville, Tennessee

“It’s about being able to have my own say in everything that matters in my life and in the lives of the sisterhood around the world. We matter.” Venetta K., 55, The Bronx, New York

“In my lifetime, I’ve been tremendously influenced by the creativity and action of iconoclastic female feminists – like Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith, Alice Waters, Louise Bourgeois, and Maya Angelou. I’ve never identified myself as a practicing feminist culturally or academically but I’ve been quietly drawn to its fundamental principles and driven to express my own personal freedoms and equality.” Tara D., 49, McClellanville, South Carolina

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“It’s a recognition that there’s no real difference between what men and women can do – we’re partners in life and we need to share that experience and help each other out. Anything that suggests that there’s some kind of distinction to prevent that is to be opposed. Feminism represents living that philosophy.” Peter G., 63, Alexandria, Virginia

“I knew this was going to be a historic moment and I want my body here to be counted. Feminism to me is very simple: Women are equal to men and men are equal to women.” Julia F., 53, Boston, Massachusetts

“Being of the older generation, I see feminism as an opportunity for the younger generations. People before me had to fight a lot harder than I did and I’m hoping you guys will have to fight a lot less.” Angie M., 69, Manchester, Maryland

What does feminism mean to you?

Images via Orion Pahl

This post is brought to you by the Darling Team! To learn more about who we are, please visit our Meet Our Team page.

6 COMMENTS
  • LaVerne Brown January 24, 2017

    It is time to realize and admit that feminism has harmed our country. Women trying to have children when they are in their forties when it would have been easier in their twenties. Women who desire to stay home at least until their children are in primary school (70%) cannot because of laws which have removed support out from under women by feminist and no fault divorce lawyers. Children who are having more emotional problems due to not having one consistent person with whom they can bond, It is time for feminist to confess that their theories have not worked and that they have harmed America. It is time to return to two parent families where one parent can chose to stay home. To discourage divorce since children with both their biological parents have higher self esteem and are at a much lower risk of being abused physically, emotionally or sexually.

  • LaVerne Brown January 24, 2017

    How can feminist say that they are pro women when they have put in place laws which prevent women from feeling financially safe to leave the workforce and stay with their children. When they feminize boys and drug them when they act unruly and won’t sit in their chairs. When they are taught to give their body’s to men for sex when the men have no interest in them but only in their bodies. Feminism has done more harm than good. It is time to look at the science that shows that men and women are different, that most women would prefer to be at home with their children at least before primary school and that children do better and are less likely to be abused physically, sexually and otherwise in a two parent home. It is time for feminist to apologize to American and let us return to respecting and promoting staying married, two parent families where the mother has the option of staying home and raising her children.

    • Teri Bradford January 26, 2017

      Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of equality. Part of feminism is encouraging women to what they would like to do. So if there are many women who want to be stay at home mothers (I have many feminist friends who cannot wait to have children and stay home with them), then that’s their right. You are correct that it is proven that children who have more time with their parents are affected positively by this. That’s why part of the feminist movement is actually trying to extend regulations such as the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act of 1993) so that parents of any gender are able to have more paid leave so they can be at home with their children. This is goes along with having access to family planning so those ready to be parents can do so in a way that is smart for them and their future children. There has been a publicized debate in the past 20 or so years that pit stay at home moms against working moms, particularly from Hillary Clinton’s “stay home and bake cookies” quote from 1992. However, this was mostly instigated by media, and many women commented and stated there was no actual war. I can’t say much about feminizing and drugging boys because I don’t know your experiences, but I do know that feminism creates a space for gender expression. There are many causes to the very valid issues you bring up, and I think feminism is trying to create solutions to these issues, not create them. I’d love an open dialogue about it!

  • Incredible women for an incredible cause!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • Terri January 23, 2017

    I am embarrassed to admit that the thought to attend a march locally never crossed my mind. I am the mother of two daughters and I have two granddaughters and their place in the world is of utmost importance to me, as well as other children, boys and girls. Upon self-reflection I realized that I felt powerless to make a difference Thank you to all the women and men who understood what individuals coming together can accomplish.

  • Westley January 23, 2017

    Ah, I love this article!! I was part of the 100,000 in attendance at Saturday’s march in Portland, OR; it was beautiful, inspiring, encouraging, motivating, magical. Thank you for adding another log to my internal fire. May we all continue to offer light to our society, the planet and to our future generations.

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