WASHINGTON, D.C.—One day after Donald Trump was inaugurated, more than half a million people flowed onto the streets of D.C. under a cloud of knitted pink pussy hats to participate in the Women’s March on Washington—a number far beyond organizers’ estimates, and one that embarrassed the shit out of the decidedly less-popular Donald Trump. Despite the massive crowd, not a single arrest was made.
We spoke to women throughout the march to find out why they showed up.
“I came with a small delegation of indigenous women. I’m following in the footsteps of my ancestors—I’m Seminole, Creek, Pawnee, Omaha, and Iowa. We’re here representing our indigenous sisters, our indigenous mothers, our indigenous daughters.
I’m here to make sure that our Mother is protected, I’m here to make sure that our women are protected—Native women experience the highest rates of sexual violence, 56% of Native women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. We’ve been struggling through a systemic genocide imposed on us.”
Jackie: “We’re most concerned about health care. So many people don’t take the time to know exactly what they’re losing, they don’t know the proper names of things—they just assume they’re going to keep their [health care] coverage, and they’re not.”
Lois: “My whole neighborhood voted for Trump, I’m from Trump territory. I think that each person has a right to their own opinion, and I’m not offended by it, as long as I don’t see their attitudes change.”
“I’m a Christian, and all Christians are on the same team—we hope. But the reason I’m a part of the United Church of Christ denomination is because they got on the wagon early with gay rights; they support all human rights. I wear this to show people that Christians support human rights, even if some Christians have not gotten Jesus’s memo on that yet.”
“I don’t think [Trump] understands what he got himself into. That’s what concerns me. But as a black woman, I don’t really think there’s ever been a president who has looked out for my best interests maybe until President Obama, so it’s something that I was raised to be aware of anyway. I don’t think I’m as hurt as some others are.”
“I’m marching for my daughter, my granddaughters. I want to see a very different world when they get to be my age. Our lives are at stake, their lives are at stake. The beautiful-ness of America has just been shit all over. Okay? And I can’t tolerate that any longer, I’m done!
One of my friends in book club had this costume, and I said, I’m ferocious right now, like a tiger, and I’m—what do you call it? I’m protecting my pride. And if I’ve gotta make a fool out of myself to show how serious I am, then that’s what I have to do.”
Jenna: “Once Trump got elected, I was like, I’m going to be here—and comments I got from other people in my life that voted for him, like ‘I don’t understand why you’re even going, it’s not like you can change the presidency.’ And I was like, okay, thank you, because now I know for sure that I’m going.”
“I mostly came in solidarity with Planned Parenthood, in hopes that they continue receiving federal funds, so women all over America can receive quality health care. [Today] was really tiring! I think there were too many people to even attempt to be organized, but it was an amazing experience just being around this many people who are all so open and welcoming.”
“I brought my three daughters with me—one is lost at the moment, so I’m looking for her—because they need to live in a world where they can be who they are. Two of my children are gay, and one is disabled. They need their voices to be heard, no matter what. These [tags] are for women who couldn’t come, and wanted their voices heard too, so these are the reasons they would have marched if they could’ve.”
“[I’m concerned about] Planned Parenthood, tax cuts, or whatever they’re gonna do with the tax cuts... The military; two of us are former military and the administration just made a lot of negative remarks about the military.”
“I’m here with a feminist organization called The Ripple [“Formation” starts playing]—oh my god, Beyoncé, sorry. I’m glad they’re playing this. Okay, so the big thing is that 53% of white women voted for Trump, which is so fucking upsetting. I felt as a white woman, I needed to be here and show solidarity, show that I care about protecting everyone else.”
“I wanted to come here because I’m the oldest of three girls, so I have to set an example. This protest has been very powerful to me, because I feel warmth and love and care. It shines a light on the amazing people that the world also has to offer, versus the people that Donald Trump was bringing anger out of.
Wearing a hijab, it’s like you’re a visible target for Islamophobia. When [Trump became] the President-Elect, I had two days where I was like, I can’t believe this is happening, but everything has been pretty positive for me; I know it’s not easy for everyone.”
“I’m worried about authoritarians in office and the people that he’s putting into the cabinet. They’re all grossly unqualified for all of their offices and it seems like their goal is to just dismantle the agencies for which they’re working so they can say, “Oh see? Government doesn’t work after all.” And then who knows what happens after that. So, I’m here in support of first amendment rights to have my voice heard and march with a million people of like mind who also feel like our democracy is in trouble.
This is not my first rodeo. I’ve been voting since 1968 and this is very different from all of the other elections. Even when I didn’t support the person elected president, I didn’t fear for my country.”
Additional reporting by Prachi Gupta and Julianne Escobedo Shepherd.