Chief Culture Editor
On January 20, 2018, around 1.5 million people around the world took to the streets for the second annual Women’s March: The People Persist. Last year’s empowering march, a response primarily to President Trump’s derogatory comments about women and threats to defund Planned Parenthood, blossomed into a march that this year encompassed issues affecting all Americans. In addition to groups and signs representing women’s issues such as the #MeToo campaign and equal pay, this year’s marches represented a wider portion of the population than that of last year. Not only did marchers respond to gender inequality, they brought issues such as universal healthcare, DACA, and Black Lives Matter to the table. Last year’s marches garnered some criticism due to their focus on primarily white women and their causes. To rectify the exclusivity of the initial march, Women’s March coordinators this year went to greater lengths to create an environment that welcomed women of all backgrounds, races, sexual orientations, gender identities, and nationalities. While there is still far more work to be done to truly create an inclusive environment that is safe for all women to attend, this year’s marches were refreshingly representative of our population compared to last year’s marches.
I attended the March on Cambridge Common, along with 5,000 other attendees, and was moved by the passion and dedication of those around me. Organized by the January Coalition in only five weeks, the Cambridge Women’s March featured signs covering issues ranging from sexual assault, equal pay, and reproductive rights, to immigration, a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and natural disaster relief. Not only were attendees representative of those diverse issues, but the January Coalition featured guest speakers from all backgrounds who spoke across many groups of people present both at the march and in our country. Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey encouraged the crowd to vote in the 2018 midterm elections to take back the White House. Nichole Mossalam, an advisory board member for the Council of American Islamic Relations in Massachusetts, spoke of her experiences with Islamophobia, and its effects on her son. She urged us to teach our children love, not hate, so they can experience a better future where we are not pitted against each other based on religion or skin color. Liz DeSelm, the second openly transgender person to be elected in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, spoke of her experience advocating for gender identity to be included in Melrose’s non-discrimination ordinance. These are only a select few of the speakers present at the march, but every speaker delivered their words with such heart and power, that we were all deeply moved by their experiences and calls to action.
In emphasizing intersectionality this year, the Women’s Marches were able to appeal to a wider base of American women than last year’s marches. Feminism cannot be limited to only one subset of women; we must stand with all women across the board. We cannot separate economic, from racial, from gender justice, because a movement that does not focus on all of these issues in tandem ignores the oppression faced by different groups of women. While there is still a ways to go before the feminist movement is truly intersectional, the 2018 Women’s Marches were a step in the right direction in terms of encouraging women to run for office in order to address issues across the spectrum.