My experience at the Women's March On NYC on Saturday, January 21 was a little unusual: I never did actually get into the march itself (😝) and I went with a bunch of women who were older, wiser, and more worldly than me.
But let me rewind a bit. As soon as I heard about the New York march, I wanted to go. But I was a little hesitant and to be honest, a little scared. I'd never marched for any kind of cause before. Then, when my friend Rosalie Calabrese (that's her on the far right above) told me she was going and invited me to join her and her friends, I knew I had to do it. (I met Rosalie last year at a GlamourGals event where I interviewed her for the Real Gals series on Galbraith. She was the first woman I profiled for the series, and we connected easily over our love for writing—she's a poet.) For some reason the idea of marching beside Rosalie sounded perfect (and much less scary). So I signed up.
The day of the march, we got to the start point and decided it would be too much to wait there (for what seemed like hours), so we walked to several different checkpoints to try and cut through, but couldn't get past the police barricades. I guess at that point in the day (we had a 3:45 p.m. start time, and the march was meant to end at about 4:30), entry points were being sectioned off. I was pretty frustrated (and disappointed), but Rosalie said, "Look, it's all around us. We're in it." And she was right, of course. Everywhere I looked there were handmade signs with clever messages carried by people of all ages, races, genders—even dogs had signs! It was such a thrill to take it all in.
I was worried it might be overwhelming being in and around such large crowds of people, but it was actually energizing and and uplifting. As Caroline Thomas (above, second from left) said, "It made me feel that I counted and was making myself useful." (Caroline was wearing an awesome hoodie that said, "Buckle up, Buttercup, I'm that nasty grandma Donald warned you about.") It was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life, not just because of the contagious excitement and hope all around me, but because of the people I was with. So here, four of the women I was with share a bit about why they marched:
Rosalie Calabrese, a poet, consultant, and writer based in Manhattan
"The last march I was in was to end the war in Vietnam. I marched with my mother, my son Chris in a baby carriage, and many hundreds of Upper West Siders... We all, men and women, in our right minds must stand together to fight the madness that is taking over our government today and endangering our lives."
Patricia Carragon, a poet, writer, and the host of the Brownstone Poets based in Brooklyn
"Being assaulted was one of the reasons I had to march. When I was in my teens, I was groped a few times at school and on the subway. I was never taught to fight back. Out of shame and fear, I kept it quiet from my parents. My last assault was on the Bedford Park Station platform. I was 19 and alone. A group of laughing young boys started touching me below my waist. I screamed and pushed them off. I escaped to the nearest exist. This time, I ran home and told my parents. Thanks to feminism, I was able to scream, cry, and rant to my parents. They gave me their support.
Women’s rights are everyone’s rights. No one is immune when discrimination wears many masks. It was refreshing to see so many women and men of all ages, colors, creeds, nationalities, religions, and sexual orientations march together. We need to support one another more than ever. I have a feeling that there will be another Women’s March in the near future."
Anna Michaels-Gaudreau, professor of behavioral science at NYIT, actor, drama coach, and poet based in Manhattan
"I began marching for causes during the Vietnam War and I've continued to march or do whatever is necessary to peacefully promote rights that are being stepped on or denied—especially [those having to do with] birth control, domestic violence, and rape. This march comes on the heels of a horrid candidate who won the presidency and has vowed to stop funding for women's rights in general, beginning with Planned Parenthood. If you vote, you should have a say for what your government is doing on your behalf. We the women are the people. We matter."
Marni Rice, a composer and playwright based in New York City
"Most recently I took part in Occupy Wall Street and since then have dedicated my efforts to direct community action where I can contribute to the change I'd like to see. I co-teach a weekly dance-theatre class for young girls (ages 4 to 12) in the Bronx. Many of our kids are from foster families and some were headed for 'special education' but are now are in 'Gifted and Talented' programs for youth. That's direct action.
I was glad to be at the women's march, and to see so many people—women and men of all ages and boys and girls from different communities—raising their voices and showing solidarity. I loved seeing the different signs and banners people created on recycled cardboard boxes and the t-shirts and handmade signs of all shapes and sizes, each with a unique message. My favorite t-shirt said: 'GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUNdamental Human Rights!'"
Thank you so much to Rosalie, Caroline, Anna, Marni, and Patricia for sharing their thoughts and for being such wonderful marching partners.