Andrew and I met my friend Melissa and her mom and sister to go out for the March for Women’s Lives today. I’ll admit that I’ve never gone out for a protest or march before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect; although, the reports were that the March was going to attract some million people, so I was expecting crowds 🙂
When we arrived, we promptly signed up on the official sign-in sheets, and then tried to make our way through the bottleneck in front of the Smithsonian Metro exit onto the Mall. There were tents set up near the Metro stop, and all along the Mall there were piles of signs to take and carry during the march. We weren’t sure where to go or what to do, so we headed to the opposite side of the Mall where things looked quieter (and where there was a row of port-a-potties).
Later, Melissa and I ventured back out on the Mall, because she had seen a sign that she wanted to carry — the “Vote like your live depended on it” sign from the Feminist Majority. I also wanted to find a pink pom-pom that I’d seen people carrying around. We threaded our way across the Mall to the tents, but saw none of the signs Mushi wanted. Finally, on our way back, we found one — just one! Someone had given us the hint to grab some extra stickers, and use those to tack the signs we wanted to carry onto the signs that came with sticks to hold them, so we each grabbed a sign with sticks, and got extra stickers, and got our signs ready. Thanks to the woman with the tip — that was a lot easier than carrying signs without sticks.
The March started a bit late, of course, since they wanted to get through all the speakers on their list before step-off. Then we took off, but soon hit several bottlenecks. That was great, though, because it spoke to the sheer numbers of people on the march.
Soon we hit our first batch of anti-protestors. They were creepy-looking men holding huge pictures of aborted fetuses. Don’t the anti-protestors know that men do not make a good picture for anti-choice protests? It’s like this picture of Bush signing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. Note all the smiling old men in the picture. It’s gross.
Mushi got caught up, without telling us, standing with her sign helping to block the anti-protestor’s signs. It was cool that she got caught up, but we got about half a block up before we noticed she was missing. I tried calling to see if we lost her in the crowd, but fortunately, Andrew and seen her run off. He went back to retrieve her, but got caught up himself for a while.
Where we were waiting for Mushi, there was another anti-choice protestor. It was interesting because there was a person with the March who was assigned to him, keeping the Marchers from engaging him. I didn’t envy her job.
The bottlenecks weren’t bad after that. We marched through the Ellipse in front of the White House, but of course Bush was off at Camp David, so our cries of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, George Bush has got to go” didn’t reach his ears.
After the White House, we started down Pennsylvania. That’s where the “real” anti-protestors were. I was, frankly, disappointed. The March has taken a year to plan, so you would think the anti-protestors would have had time to mobilize. There weren’t many of them, and since they wanted to stretch themselves as far as they could, their numbers looked really thin. And, again, most of them were creepy old men. Supposedly there were some women dressed in black as part of the anti-choice protests. These women had had abortions and now regretted it. These are the people who might actually make a good statement, but I didn’t see them at all — maybe I was just turned off to the anti-protests by then.
We made it back to the Mall, and crashed on the lawn for about 20 minutes. The whole time, there were still Marchers coming into the Mall.
I was struck by the range of ages represented at the march. I think we all tend to think of this as “our” fight, but it started long ago. Roe vs. Wade is now 31 years old. I saw women in their sixties at the march. I saw young women in their teens. There were mothers with babies. There were mothers and grandmothers — some marching together with their daughters and granddaughters. Pro-choice is not anti-family.
I certainly hope another march like this is not necessary, but I’ll be there for then next one, if there has to be one.
Check out my pictures from the march.