An estimated 680,000 individuals — most women, most donning pink knitted pussy hats and holding handmade signs — filled the streets of Washington D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington.
Many of the signs, with slogans such as “Cheetos are my snack, not my president,” “Trump = Traitor” and “Grab ‘em by the toupe” were later deposited in front of the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue — a message to the man who had sparked it all.
The hotel is down the street from its owners new home: the White House. The rally fell a day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, though the outrage expressed by the women had been in the works long before his election and the march itself sprouted shortly after Nov. 8. Women across the country were dissuaded not only by the loss of the prospective first female president, but by Trump’s rhetoric and policies.
Trump has repeatedly stated misogynistic comments throughout the campaign. The pinnacle for many was the released “hot mike” tape where Trump was overheard saying he can “grab (women) by the pussy.” In his statement following the release of the 2005 tape, Trump initially dismissed it all as “locker room banter.”
On Saturday, the marchers were clear in their chants: “Pussy grabs back.”
For four hours before the march officially began, speakers such as activists Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis; Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards; congresswomen; and actresses Scarlett Johansson and America Ferrera, all spoke to the crowd on injustices they were marching in response to.
Steinem, who grew to be a leader in the feminist movement in the 1960s, called on the women in Washington and across the country to look at the turnout of the march and lean on other women moving forward.
“God may be in the details, but the goddess is in connections,” Steinem said. “We are at one with each other, we are looking at each other, not up. No more asking daddy. We are linked. We are not ranked. And this is a day that will change us forever because we are together. Each of us individually and collectively will never be the same again.”
Johansson told the story of her first trip to the gynecologist at a Planned Parenthood facility and expressed her support for the organization and women’s rights overall — invoking her own daughter’s future, saying she hopes women will have the same opportunities that his daughter, Ivanka Trump, has been provided.
“President Trump, I did not vote for you,” Johansson said. “I want to be able to support you. But first I ask that you support me. Support my sister. Support my mother. Support my best friend and all of our girlfriends.”
Support, not only for women’s health care, but for issues like immigration. At one point in the speeches, six-year-old activist Sophie Cruz was invited on stage with her parents and sister to confront Trump’s immigration policies.
“We are here together making a chain of love, to protect our families,” Cruz said. “Let us fight with love, faith and courage so that our families will not be destroyed.”
After she completed her speech in English, Cruz gave the same speech to the crowd in Spanish.
Women from all parties said they were motivated to attend for a variety of reasons, though the overall message was opposing Trump. In the Michigan group, reasons for coming included concerns over health care, climate change and immigration. The group for the state of Michigan as a whole was spearheaded by Traverse City resident Phoebe Hopps.
“After the election I wanted to turn fear and sadness into hope and action,” Hoops said.
Hoops said about 5,100 Michiganders made it to the rally — 92 riding by bus.
LSA sophomore Renae Lyons came on a bus of 50 University of Michigan students — despite not knowing anyone else on the bus beforehand — because she said she was appalled by Trump’s election.
“I don’t agree with many of the things that Donald Trump says,” Lyons said. “But his policies are particularly egregious. I think everyone deserves health care, everyone deserves an equal chance to come to America, if people have homes here they shouldn’t be deported. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, you belong here.”
LSA junior Nicole Kubera drove to D.C. with her roommates for the march. She said Trump’s rhetoric was overwhelming for her: “the way he refers to women, it’s unacceptable.”
“When we found out this was happening, it just felt like we had to go,” Kubera said. “This is a great way to kick off the activism for this presidency, so we just kinda felt like: How could we sit at home when we had the opportunity to get out there and march for the people who may not.”
The Washington rally was the largest, but more than 670 others were held across the globe — including a handful in Michigan. U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D–Dearborn) met in Hancock Park with the rest of the women who had come to the march from the state, but left it early to ultimately attend the one in Ann Arbor.
“How could I not come to the rally?” Dingell said. “It’s women pulling together and that sense of community, trying to be positive about the future of this country. It’s multi-generations of women coming together; my generation of women coming together and sharing our stories with younger generations of women. We’re all going to come together to make sure we’re fighting for justice for all. ”
Both Michigan senators — U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D) and Debbie Stabenow (D) — met with the Michigan group as well.
“The most powerful role we have in our country is being a citizen — and now’s the time to speak up and be heard,” Stabenow said. “All of the issues that are so important that make America great right now are being threatened by a group of folks that are truly out of touch the majority of people.”
The officials all stated they intend to continue on with the movement’s goals long after the march. Ypsilanti Mayor Amanda Edmonds attended the rally with the Michigan group and said she felt all should attend.
“It’s really important for anyone to be here,” Edmonds said. “We are standing behind them. We are going to make people safe, and cared for, and not discriminated against in every way we possibly can.”
This has been a goal for Edmonds since long before the rally. Two weeks ago, Ypsilanti passed an updated civil rights ordinance that included immigration status and gender identity under those protected. Next week, Edmonds said, Ypsilanti will vote on a measure to prevent profiling in the city.
In Washington, though, there remains a sense of uncertainty for the future, despite the assurances of the congresswomen in the rally. One sentiment stays true though: It’s not over after the march. As protesters chanted outside of Trump’s hotel: “We will not go away, welcome to your first day.”