Gretchen Klinedinst Furst is a writer, blogger (The G-Note), teacher, actress, and mom.
The Women's March: A Reflection
What I remember most about the Women’s March of 2017 was a feeling of sustained astonishment. The feeling that something big was happening and I was there to witness it, yet it was nearly incomprehensible. Leading up to the march, we’d been given a rough estimate of how many people to expect: 250,000. By the time our buses arrived in D.C., the streets overflowed. The people we passed as we walked from the bus parking lots toward the march waved and cheered us on. At that point, we were all sort of straggling in. But before long, we bumped right up against a wall of people, a sea of the infamous pink hats and signs and peaceful, yet fired up, protesters.
The numbers were unfathomable and everywhere we looked, there were more people. It blew my mind. Now, I’m terribly directionally impaired, so I can’t tell you from what vantage point I give you my observations, just know that in every direction, there were people. No matter how far away I could see, there were people. And the air vibrated with the energy of astonishment, awe, strength, and gratitude. Truly one of the most important days of my life.
Just a little over a month before, I’d ordered my tickets to travel to D.C. with two of my friends. We’d done all sorts of preparation, packed our supplies for any kind of weather, geared up. Before I left my house that morning, I wrote a note to my daughters, a note of love and an explanation of why I marched. Perhaps it was a tad melodramatic, but there existed in me just a little bit of angst over the possibility that the day might turn scary, that we might meet up with some of the not so peaceful fellow citizens who’d made their voices heard (quite loudly) over the past 18 months. So I left a note, just in case and to make sure they understood the significance of the day as it pertained to them and their futures.
We boarded our Emmaus Rally Bus pre-dawn. The frenetic energy, even in the dark early morning, might have fueled that bus alone. These participants weren’t beaten down by one of the ugliest presidential campaigns in history. To the contrary: we were (and still are) very much fired up! Not sure what lay ahead, but determined to be part of it.
It wasn’t until we needed to stop for gas that every expectation I had about the size of this march changed. Every single rest stop for miles was full. Nowhere to park. Lines ridiculously long. I remember as we’d pass each rest stop, the anticipation and exuberance on the bus escalated. So did the fear that we’d maybe run out of gas! All those buses, so many buses! So much bigger than we’d imagined. Awesome.
When we arrived in D.C., our fearless bus leader gave us each a fabulous sash to wear, we grabbed our signs, and set out. I carried Carrie Fisher, my childhood friend and lifelong heroine: my rebel princess who ultimately became a symbol of the resistance. She was everywhere that day, not only on signs but because of everything she stood for both in and out of character: independence, smarts, strength, fiery wit, female power. The energy of princess warriors took to the streets and it was a beautiful thing.
The entire day was beautiful. A long day of walking in unity with a fervor of pride and a feeling that this was really something, that it would make a difference.
Cell service was spotty at best. We wanted to know: just how many people were here? We couldn’t tell on the ground. All we saw were people on all sides of us and for blocks long. A giant traffic jam of protesters in pink hats. After speakers/the rally, we moved started the actual march. Slow at first, packed in like sardines moving en masse, but eventually to the White House. One of the most inspiring events of my life.
When we made it back to the bus at the end of the day, I called my husband again. Anything? The numbers of people at the inauguration of D.T. (just one day prior to the march) and how inaccurate they were seemed to be the news of the day. Not the numbers (millions by the way) marching around the world.
At the time, that was infuriating. But a year later, it’s OK. And it’s also OK that there were many Americans who dismissed, scoffed at, and even admonished the march. For those who thought the march ridiculous and meaningless, here are just a few words symbolizing the success of the march that continues to be a movement: #metoo, #timesup, #sheshouldrun.
The culture is being turned on its head. For women, by women. And it started with the march. The political makeup of our country, for the first time ever, is being challenged by thousands of women now running for office. The “good old boys” club is being dismantled. Prick by prick. By truth. By courage. By WOMEN. By the unstoppable force that rose up and revealed itself to the world on this day one year ago. And it started with the march.
In every state and on every continent, we marched. In Washington, D.C. alone: approximately 500,000 of us. Across the globe: millions. On every single continent, even Antarctica! We were there. We marched, and it meant something. For women. For all humanity. For the world. For its past and its future. The march meant something then and now.
The force is strong with this one. It’s a force to be reckoned with. Keep marching. Move forward.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2018 Gretchen Klinedinst Furst