Recently and very frequently, I lay in bed, eyes wide open, still wondering what happened (or what didn’t happen) to us on the night of November 8, 2016.
There are feelings of hopelessness, anger, and frustration. A part of me thought there was a chance we’d have our first female Commander-in-Chief. But there was another part of me.
The part that I don’t like to listen to, the part that holds my confidence with a firm grip, that puts doubt into any and all of my ideas.
The part that gnaws into my soul, and holds the memories of constantly being overlooked because of my gender and/or race, that holds the memories of men not listening to my ideas at work, told me that it wasn’t going to happen.
As my high school male teacher said a decade ago, “people have a hard time listening to a woman.” On that fateful night, like a predator ready to attack, the knife dug deeper into my soul, twisted its ugliness into my being, and almost took my breath away.
However, like many, many, many women, along with our broken hearts and humility, we got up. We made sure our children were fed, our significant others loved, we met our deadlines. We held our composure, in between, we may have cried, but we continued to rise.
We went to work, fed our families, paid our bills on time, kept our loved ones close to heart and we moved on. We will continue to move on, and move forward.
On January 21st, we will march forth in unison, as one, to remind the world we will not be dismissed, ridiculed or silenced, to show we will not be slighted. In the face of defeat and humility, we will continue to move forward.
We may have not done it yet, but we will continue to push forth, and keep on marching on so that we will shatter that almighty high and stubborn glass ceiling.
We do this for ourselves, for our mothers and grandmothers and ancestors, we do it for our daughters and nieces. To let them know, as Hillary Clinton so beautifully said,
“We are valuable, we are powerful, and we deserve this chance and every opportunity to achieve our dreams”.
In that spirit, Empress asked women of all ages what the Women’s March signifies and what being a woman in 2017 means to them.
*Introduction contributed by Rhodora LaRochelle, 33.
Jessica Robles, 28
A few days ago someone asked me, why I was joining thousands of demonstrators for the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. My response was simple, “because Audre Lorde taught me that my silence will not protect me.”
As an educated, Latina woman from the Bronx, I am aware of my simultaneous privilege and oppression, and quite honestly, all of my intersecting identities were attacked in this recent presidential election.
My people have been silenced, ignored, and abused by U.S. policy and experimentation for centuries, but we are resilient and enough is enough. I am marching for reproductive justice, not to be confused with reproductive rights.
Reproductive justice is an intersectional framework that centers health and sexuality in a social justice paradigm. RJ includes a myriad of factors, including but not limited, to race, class, gender identity, immigration status, police brutality, mass incarceration, and environmental dangers that impact our bodily autonomy.
Women of color have historically carried the burden of reproductive oppression, our circumstances will only worsen if we do not actively resist this administration.
Adrienne Ng, 29
To be a woman in 2017 is to recognize that all this time while we thought we were locked out of the world stage patiently waiting for someone to let us in, there’s been a key underneath the doormat.
It’s time to get creative in our problem solving; when we decide to opt out of the paradigms presented to us, society has no choice but to follow. This is why the Women’s March is so monumental at this time in history.
It represents women (and men) taking a stand in solidarity for choosing love over hate, freedom over restriction. Personally, I will be marching with the intent of standing up for reproductive freedom and equality.
There is an old adage, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.” The Women’s March is all of us, grabbing seats at the table.
Christina Amazan, 27
As a woman, this march on Washington is a movement against the rolling tide of oppressive change.
We have worked so hard to get the rights we do have, and the hate-filled rhetoric of Trump, Pence, and the GOP has called us to arms in order to protect them. As a black female, I’m even more involved.
I feel as if both my sex and my race are under attack. But instead of cowering in fear, I intend to rise up to this challenge and meet it head on. I left my fears in 2016.
Chrisalys De Jesus, 25
First and foremost, I march as a resilient Latina-American woman, directly impacted by the inconsistencies and injustices of this government.
I march understanding I hold a responsibility to myself — and this world — to build, motivate, and inspire political change ridiculed as unpatriotic in the eyes of the content.
I march in love with the contributions of my gender. I march as a visionary able to foresee the outcomes of this revolution, and I march in an effort to challenge our world’s definition of equality.
Lastly, but certainty not least, I march so that my presence may speak louder the assumption that woman long empowerment in some sort of antagonistic effort to fight against our country.
We march because we love our country.
We march in hopes of balance, not fight, and one day soon, the world will have to acknowledge our cry and message that we are in fact, “Women for balance, not fight.”
Zerline Alvarez, 23
Marching on Washington for me is about educating myself and being among fierce women (and men) who are working towards equality.
When I was younger I would naively say, “I don’t do politics.” Now, a bit older and wiser I understand that some aspects of politics affect my everyday life.
Looking back at the election and Trump’s agenda as president, I think it’s extremely important for women, and anyone willing to be involved in the fight for protecting our rights, to attend the march.
I hope the march sparks continuous efforts in fighting against inequality and educating the public, not just on inauguration weekend.
Katie Livornese, 25
2017 is a really exciting time for women – we are in the fourth wave of feminism and women are realizing their power across all aspects of life (spending, social media, workforce).
It is our responsibility to continue the movement that women before us fought for. Last year’s election results served as a catalyst women needed to mobilize and there is no longer any doubt that inequality is still embedded in our society.
I am marching to reinvigorate this fourth wave and to demonstrate to the new administration that the power of women’s voices should not be underestimated.
I hope, collectively, we can accelerate progress to reach gender equality because we cannot succeed as a community, nation, or world while half of us are held back.
Joshel Melgarejo, 22
The Women’s March means taking a stand against, and moving towards, dismantling the patriarchal system that is in place in society.
Women make up over half of the world’s population, yet women all over the globe are disproportionately affected by issues such as poverty, armed conflict, human trafficking, sexual violence, lack of adequate healthcare, and being denied reproductive autonomy.
We have faced oppression throughout history, but have constantly fought for our human rights. Today is no different. We have a responsibility to rebel against a regime that threatens to destroy all the progress that has been made by women’s power movements.
We must uphold the legacy of women activists before us, especially women of color such as Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, and Yuri Kochiyama, and continue our struggle for liberation. Women hold up half the sky.
Melody Weir, 64
The March has many meanings to me. First and foremost it is a message to the men that run our country that we as women MATTER. I marched for the E.R.A. in the 70’s and 80’s and was a loud voice for the National Organization for Women (NOW).
This March is about making a statement that we as women have the right to decide what we do with our bodies and our voices. I firmly believe reproductive rights are Human rights. Our voices make the change we want to have happen. That is why I am marching.
Being a woman in 2017 is exciting. In this new era in this country, we are working with people that are not on our page.
From the right to choose, the environment, equality for women, and civil rights, we have digressed. I feel that all of us in 2017, no matter our sex, creed, or ethnicity, have to get out of our comfort zones and get active.
As a woman I feel strongly this is our year to to lead and set examples. This year is an exciting time to use our voices to roar and be heard.
It is our year to listen to others less fortunate and help them live better lives. It is a year of intersectional progression.
It is a year to have more vigilant background checks for gun purchases.
Listening to our muslim and black sisterhood and understanding their concerns. Making sure that the oil giants stop polluting our Native American lands and waterways, as well as polluting our drinking water.
It is an opportunity for all of us as women to make change happen and we can do it with action, love, and compassion.
Hayley Nerenberg, 25
I am humbled that this event is happening in the prime of my lifetime. I am older and wiser to know what it means to be woman of 2017 and proudly support the message this march will send on Saturday January 21.
I feel an even closer tie to the date that this historical March will take place. It will be my 25th birthday, a quarter of my life lived, and lived fully thanks to all the courageous woman who came before me to pave the way.
To know that my country and my sex is out there fighting for our rights together peacefully makes me proud. I hope that tomorrow is a day everyone will remember and that the domino effect triggers more positive change for not just woman but all underrepresented groups in society over all.
We should celebrate our differences and come together to lift each other up, that is how we will make America great again!
Julia Ismail, 24
I’m from the Middle East, and I’m a Muslim woman from what was formerly known as Palestine. Growing up, I’d sheltered myself from the harsh realities of politics, wanting no part in liberal movements.
Gender equality was another a battle I fought, watching it affect several of my relationships. Years later, I finally have the chance to understand myself and my culture.
The Women’s March means so much more to me than a group rebelling against our current political agendas. The Women’s March shows me how far we’ve come as a movement. This march is a powerful advance in gender relations.
Feminism is at it’s strongest, and I am proud to be living in a time where women have the opportunity to speak up against battles that directly affect us, and our community as a whole.
Theresa Maloco, 21
Strength, unity, and passion are all words that I would use describe the Women’s March on Washington and the sister marches happening around the world.
Strong because when we heard the news that Donald Trump was going to be our president, we didn’t cry and stand around, we came together and planned a reaction.
Unity because our voices will only be heard if we march together. And passion because regardless of our skin color, religion, or gender we all believe in human rights.
In 2017, we are stronger than ever and we are taking advantage of it.
Let’s keep marching on! If you’d like to contribute and share what the march signifies to you, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org