This post won’t be as positive as I would have hoped, but I want to give my honest and real opinion on the subject matter which is that I am disappointed with the Women March this year.
I think the main thing is that it just didn’t “feel” the same as last year. I don’t know why exactly (though I will try to process it here) since I love the March and what it stands for. It wasn’t all bad and I will discuss this in more detail during this post.
To start, I want to say that before going to the March I was really excited. I was up at 6 am because I couldn’t sleep and I was playing the song “I Can’t Keep Quiet” (link here:) as well as a girl power playlist on repeat. I got there and there was a good atmosphere but by the time the March started that energy was almost gone and by the time the March was over I didn’t feel motivated or ready to fight harder than ever for gender equality. It was a bit of a let down, very anti-climatic (which was the opposite of last year).
First, let’s look at some of my main thoughts on the March which will answer in more detail why it was disappointing but also a good experience.
1. The hate.
I made the mistake of following social media all day and the hashtag #womensmarch2018. While some messages were positive, the amount of people, mostly men but a few girls too, with so much hate speech toward the March, is astounding to me. I usually ignore these things but sometimes you have to stop and think, what is going on in the world^ Are there really people who thrive on making other people, angry, sad and upset?
For example, if I hated let’s say a political figure. I have a right to say I dislike “blank” because of “blank” but I should also have a responsibility to say it in a respectful way so that people who like “blank” understand my point but don’t feel attacked by it.
Some posts are just nasty and they were not only about “I hate the Women’s March” but attacked everyone who supports it. Because of this, looking at these posts gave me a fire to work even harder to make positive change in this world and spread kindness and understanding. I am determined to not let these people make me sad (like they did for the two days after the March) but serve as reminder of why I am working so hard on making a Powered Crowd that supports one another and strives for kindness and understanding even if you don’t agree with someone else. Having said this, here are some posts that I saw. I am not putting those posts here to give a spotlight to hate speech, but to demonstrate why it needs to change. I have covered the names to keep the identities secret. Like I said, I am doing this to show why we need to change the way we express our opinions and things we don’t like not to get the people who tweeted these things in trouble.
*** SOME OF THESE PICTURES MIGHT UPSET SOME PEOPLE
2. Fighting hate with hate
There was so much hate speech about hate speech this year it was ridiculous. Now how does that make sense you might ask? Hate speech about hate speech? Yes it’s a real thing (at least in my opinion). Let me give you an example. If you support for example LGBTQ2 rights (which I do support even thought I am not a member of the community) or are a member of the LGBTQ2 community and you want to see more representation of your group and not often represented in the community of events. This is a great goal and I think everyone should have equal rights to be represented. The problem is I have been seeing people who comment hateful things, on for example, the event page or social media like “You guys are stupid, you are marching for gender equality but not all genders are present. You guys are laughable and not very educated. We want more LGBTQ2 representation!”. I see their point and agree 100% that they should be given equal representation. Also, obviously, this is just one example and the majority of people seem to be respectful when defending their point and their right to be represented. However, I have been seeing this kind of post coming up more and more. If you don’t like when people direct hate speech at you (which of course is wrong) use a language that is kind to prove your point don’t hate speech the hate speech. Here is an example “I was looking at your website and find there is not enough representation of the LGBTQ2 community. Could you please elaborate on what you are doing to represent the LGBTQ2 community more this year. My suggestions would be …..” in this case it’s saying your point but also saying it in a respectful way, a way where anger is not seeping through the lines. The difference between examples number one and number two are fairly obvious in the first example, someone is frustrated, upset, angry and in the second example, someone might be feeling these same emotions but is saying it in a way that will be much better understood and accepted from the person(s) it was addressed to. I know that personally, as a human being, I make mistakes. I might have the best intentions but sometimes I might represent someone wrongfully by accident or forget to include someone who should be included. But I would like the people who notice this mistake to tell me kindly what I did and how it affected them and not assume I did this to spite them.
So to summarize all this, I didn’t like the backlash I saw when a) some people bashed on the March organizers without considering all the information and, b) bashed on the organizers when they made an honest mistake and were quick to apologize and try to change it. I know from speaking to the organizers, they did a lot of work to make things inclusive for everyone and I am sure that the comments that where hateful did nothing to prove their point.
Fight hate with love. Not more hate (and again I want to clarify that not everyone uses hate speech when talking about hate speech. The LGBTQ2 example was just an example. I could have chosen many different ones.)
3. How the March was organized.
Now I want to start by saying I have nothing but respect for the organizers. I actually met them because I got to the March early and offered to help out. However, there was some logistics issues that kind of made this March fall flat.
For example, the intro to the March. This intro was so long that I estimated 1/2 to 3/4 of the people left before the March even began. How do I know this? Like I mentioned before, I offered to help out and one of my jobs was asking the crowd to leave a lane way open in order for people to be able to walk up to Parliament (which is where we started the March in Ottawa) as well as to let the drummers pass when they were set to start the March.
At one point, there was so many people that the volunteers gave up making a lane way because there was no more space. As the intro dragged on, it got to the point where we didn’t have to do our job of clearing the lane because so many people left that there was A LOT of free space.
I understand that from the organizers point of view they had some speakers that represented different groups. They wanted all of them to speak so that the theme of equality and inclusion were present. They were also interrupted by the Parliament bells countless times which wasted time. There might also have been some other problems that I wasn’t aware of that made the intro so long but as someone who was wearing a volunteer vest, I had people come up to me and ask “Are we still marching or is this event just speakers?” All the volunteers experienced these same type of questions.
The intro was actually so long that we were supposed to arrive at 12:00 and leave to march at 12:30 but instead the March left closer to 1:20 which was 5 minutes after we were supposed to have arrived at our end destination.
Towards the end, the organizer went up and said I will do a last speech to get everyone pumped up. Now personally I would have seen how late we were time wise and how the crowd was getting smaller by the second and made it a short speech. This speech however was really really long and 3/4 of the people could not hear her. Not to mention that the speech wasn’t very motivating and most people didn’t seem more excited or “pumped” during or after the speech. The speech made by the organizer mostly did the opposite of it’s intent and only got the crowd even more antsy and angry.
A woman even started chanting “Let us march, let us march.” which was picked up by some other people saying “We want to march” in another chant. These same people came up to us (the volunteers) angry saying we lost a lot of people. Which again I realized earlier and I was as upset as them about it too.
I think if the March left when it was supposed to, we would have surpassed last year’s crowd by leaps and bounds but as it stood, the photo’s of the crowd marching this year look small compared to the ones of last year.
When we finally started the March it was like a ghost town. Everyone’s energy had kind of left them after that really long intro (me included). Everyone was just walking in silence with their posters while some participants tried starting chants which sometimes worked but most often fell flat. I feel like there should have been much more effort in having loud speakers or something to get the crowd going before and during the March. Also, as I mentioned, the timing of the beginning could have been greatly improved.
I will reiterate. The organizers are lovely women who made all possible measures to be prepared but things don’t always go as planned and I think, in this case, it really hurt the March.
4. Confusion/ Mixed Messages
People were confused as to what we were marching for. The reason for marching was on the website but not mentioned at the really long intro (if it was I didn’t hear it), apart from the speeches that covered global issues.
During the March we had people chanting against Trump. Some were chanting about how sex work is real work. Basically it was all over the place. I know everyone has different causes that they are passionate about, but when you are a large group and everyone is fractured in the reasons they are there it’s hard to show a united front or start chants, as I mentioned. The theme was supposed to be women’s rights, inclusivity, gender equality, and women in politics, but again they were not often mentioned.
5.Wrap up/ The good!
Now to wrap this up. There was some GOOD. I loved seeing people marching for a cause. As a semi-volunteer I talked to some wonderful people and everyone in the crowd (not counting towards the end when people got impatient and angry), who were very nice! There were some awesome posters and I could hear some interesting discussions, which is so great because change comes from working together and having those discussions on various opinions and how we can work together to make this world a better place for all.
The BAD? It didn’t feel empowering and kind of fell flat, leaving me disappointed. Now, was it just me? Maybe. I could have built it up too big, romanticizing my experience from last year. But to me those two marches didn’t compare. It was like people forgot what we were marching about and only wanted to be there because they heard about it being a good experience or saw it on TV. It lacked the energy of people passionate and ready for change. All this is odd because, like I said, most people there were passionate about the subject.
At first I felt angry with myself. Why didn’t I enjoy it? What is going on? I support this cause but the March, supporting this same cause, didn’t motivate me like it did last year. This doesn’t seem normal.
These thoughts troubled me but I realized liking or not liking the March doesn’t make me a good advocate or a bad one. There could have been many factors that made it so the March was not as motivating this year, many of which I already touched on. Also, just because it was disappointing doesn’t mean I will stop supporting gender equality and equality in general. I am still as motivated as ever, even if the Women’s March didn’t play as big a part in that motivation this year as it did last year (which by the way was my first ever march! That could definitely have made it more impressive than this year when I have done a couple.)
So what do I take away from this march? I want to continue working towards gender equality and equality for all in general. I have no doubt in that fact at all. I also learned that I want to work on making a difference in this community to and encourage people to not speak from hate but kindness, to try to be understanding, even if they oppose or disagree with something. The biggest lesson I learned is that a march is a march. It is a great way to get motivated, to make a visual demonstration of the number of people who support the same cause. But what is important is the work that is done the other 364 days in the year. It doesn’t end with the march, it starts with the march. Whatever you feel about the March, motivated or slightly dissapointed, let’s all strive to make those other 364 days count as much as that one day a year were we gather together for a visual demonstration.
Let’s work together towards positive change. Remember to be kind to others and understanding even if you don’t agree with something. Let’s be a Powered Crowd that supports each other. Motivated or not after the Women’s March let’s make those 364 days count so that at the next Women’s march we can have more things to celebrate.
Last but not least I want to mention that this post is a collaboration with Step Up Magazine. Step Up is an Online magazine that promotes positive change much like Powered Crowd. In their own words “Step Up is an online destination whose content is created by and for young professionals, high school, and college students who aspire to be the next generation of founders, innovators, philanthropists, changemakers, and leaders. Step Up is their platform to tell their story, and inspire their peers. Our ultimate mission is to deliver material that motivates young people to step it up and make the world a better place.” Go check out their website here for all the details and to read some great content.