Winsor Students and Faculty Attend Women’s March on Boston,, Boston Magazine

-By, Isabel Isselbacher

The day after the inauguration, the world witnessed the largest coordinated protest to date. People of all backgrounds gathered across seven continents on January 21, 2017, in support of one universal mission: women’s rights. The march was initially organized as a response to Donald Trump and his controversial behavior towards women – in a tape that surfaced early-october, he joked about sexual assault, which both Democrats and Republicans alike found to be misogynistic. According to the event committee, the mission in planning The Women’s March on Washington was that the demonstration “…[would] send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”

The epicenter of the protest naturally took place in Washington D.C., where a crowd of half a million rallied throughout the day. In fact, there was much buzz over the fact that the  number of attendees at the women’s march was significantly larger than that at the presidential inauguration. An impressive 673 sister marches occurred in all fifty U.S. states and more than 70 countries, ranging from Thailand to Norway to the South Pole. All in all, there were an estimated 5.5 million people who united that day across the globe in defense of women’s rights.

Here in Boston, Back Bay’s typical Saturday morning traffic was displaced by foot traffic as a sea of protesters clad in pink hats poured into the Common. Indeed, Beacon St., Arlington St., Clarendon St., Boylston St., and Commonwealth Ave. were all shut down to make way for 175,000 attendees. Winsor was well represented in the crowd, as several faculty– including Ms. Jackson, Ms. Wolf, and Ms. Blackburn–attended the Boston March, along with a host of students from the Upper School.

Although the protest itself was peaceful, the atmosphere was fiery and charged.  Simran K. ’18 reflected, “I attended the march in Boston because I am frankly tired of the overt violation of basic human rights that is so prevalent in America today…my personal goal of attending the march was to send a signal to our president that we as women, LGBTQ+ individuals, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, disabled individuals, and everyone else whose rights are being infringed upon will not sit idle in the face of injustice.” Iona G. ’18, who attended the march in Washington DC, stated: “I think the goal for me personally is not to protest our president’s legitimacy ….what I’m protesting is the fact that he doesn’t acknowledge anyone else’s viewpoint. He needs to realize that he’s the president of all of America, and there’s a range of views and perspectives that he’s not honoring…he needs to know that people like me who believe what I believe won’t be silent.”

On the subject of democratic engagement, Ms. Jackson explained, “It was important to me that my kids see democratic protest in action. We have been relatively complacent about our political involvement up until this point, but the recent election reminded me that a healthy democracy requires active and informed citizens.” Simran K. agreed, “I believe that a healthy democracy entails active citizens who speak their minds and stand up for their beliefs. Had I not marched, I feel that I personally would have done injustice to the democracy America prides itself on and also to myself as a daughter of immigrants and a woman of color.” One student remarked that this was the first time she became actively involved in the nation’s affairs.

The march had an air of gravity, but it certainly had a feel-good quality as well. Iona Gossage described her positive experience in the capital: “It was really powerful – I almost cried a couple of times – You really felt like you were making history. It was just such a huge event and I was so happy to be part of it. Obviously I was just one person among hundreds of thousands but I felt like I was making a difference and that was powerful.” According to Ms. Jackson, “Standing with fellow Bostonians for shared values, and looking out over the city I love was very moving. It was also overwhelming to think about how to take the next step beyond marching into making real change. So attending the local march helped remind me that starting small and local is a good way to begin.”

Perceptions of the march were not all positive, however. In fact, much of the opposition initially came from a feminist standpoint: When the event was still in its early stages, certain activists expressed concern that the march would be a manifestation of white feminism that failed to acknowledge the intersectionality of the movement. Candice Huber resigned as a march coordinator in Louisiana because of a lack of diversity in the event’s leadership, later writing “I cannot in good conscience attend a march led by white women who actively silence their opposition and use women of color as tokens when it’s convenient for them.” In response to this criticism, “the march eventually broadened to include people like author Janet Mock and developed a more intersectional platform” (Huffington Post). Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour, three women of color, became co-chairs and sought to make the Women’s March on Washington more inclusive. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Sarsour explained that she, Mallory, and Perez “made sure that our sisters, our native sisters, our Mexican sisters, our undocumented sisters, trans women of color, that we were in the march.”

While President Donald Trump’s response to the protest was lacking– Press Secretary Sean Spicer deliberately avoided the subject at the following press conference – the march has still left an undeniable mark on our collective attitude. The Women’s March on Washington has set a precedent for the next four years; if the government in any way fails its citizens, whether by violating women’s rights or by passing a discriminatory immigrant ban, we must become our own advocates. The American people must take a stand.