The American Capital was an ocean of pink yesterday as women, as well as men, from all over the continent decided to march on Washington. The intention was to speak out against the pussy grabbing Donald Trump the day after he was inaugurated as the 45th president.
Organizers said Saturday morning that they expected half a million people to attend the D.C. march, double their initial estimate and larger than Trump’s actual inauguration.
Thousands of people wearing pink “pussyhats” and carrying imaginative protest signs turned out for the Women’s March on Washington. But the other story was the more than six hundred sister demonstrations around the world.
If you were like me and couldn’t make the trip to Washington, or if you were like Sasha Dyck who got turned around at the border for being anti-Trump, you still had a place to take out your frustrations with other like minded people.
Like many major cities around the world, Montreal had their own Woman’s March on Washington. Roughly 5,000 people showed up at Place-des-Arts to denounce President Trump. They spoke out against misogyny and racism, and wanted to fight for the equal rights that many women think will be lost during Trump’s Presidency.
It all started and ended to the tune of Give Peace a Chance followed by some traditional native Canadian music and dancing. Place-des-Arts, after all was land never ceded by native mohawks.
The speakers were terrific. There were representatives from various organizations such as the Raging Grannies, #BlackLivesMatter and the Girls Action Foundation.
The adorable, but fierce, Raging Grannies of Montreal sang to the tune of Oh! Susanna: “Women’s power, we’re here to make a stir / Don’t mess around with women’s rights, we roar as well as purr.”
“The siren song of populism will be sung here as well as,” said speaker Élisabeth Vallet, a well-known professor of American studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal. “We have to be aware that we are at risk of returning to the model that our mothers and grandmothers knew.”
Speaker Sue Montgomery, a former Montreal Gazette reporter, created a hashtag (#BeenRapedNeverReported) that went viral. “We are stronger than all those who believe our bodies are for their taking, all those who believe they can grab our pussies.” She said.
What followed was the moment that hit me the hardest, it almost made me cry. She asked women in the crowd to put up their hands if they had ever been sexually assaulted or harassed. If I were to guess, I’d say one in every three women raised their hand.
“Look at those hands, it makes me so sad to see that. I’m here today for all the young girls out there. One day, I would love to stand before you and ask the same question and I’d like to see not one hand be raised,” she said.
For a progressive, the past six months has been one disappointment after another. Trump has now been sworn in, but after witnessing a crowd that size, all pumped and primed, who don’t even have a say in American Politics. I have to say, Saturday was a day of hope like no other, but the fight is just beginning.