W&L Students Join Women’s March

By: Jackie Hacker, 2L
Online Editor

On January 21, hundreds of thousands of people drove, bussed, and flew into Washington D.C. to join the ranks of the nation’s largest single-day protest —the Women’s March on Washington. W&L law students were no exception.

W&L Law Students get ready to join the Women’s March in Washington.

W&L Law Students get ready to join the Women’s March in Washington. | Courtesy of Carroll Neale’s Facebook.

“Right when I heard the news that there was going to be a women’s march, I said: ‘I’m going to that thing,’” enthused Charu Kulkarni, 2L. “I think that the brazen misogyny of the winner of this election really motivated me to go.”

Other students, like Grimes Waybright, 2L, did not make the decision to go instantly. Grimes did not realize precisely what pulled her there until she encountered the protest herself, articulating that “part of it was just saying that an election with that type of rhetoric is not okay. It was saying that there are people who do not agree with it, and that no one is alone.”

Both Charu and Grimes also described similar experiences of feeling moved by seeing parents bring their small children to the march.

“Seeing people bring their kids, it was clear that this thing went beyond taking political positions,” Charu said. “It goes to how people live their lives and what they teach their children.”

When asked about her reasons for marching Chloe Bilodeau, 2L, predominantly cited her belief in advocating for women’s issues.

“It was a message to the new administration, and not just specifically Trump,” Chloe clarifies. “It was also a message to other people in this country, and to people watching us around the world—women have power. We are numerous and we have a voice.”

Indeed, the turnout for the march in D.C. far exceeded expectations. By the time the march was scheduled to start, the entire route was already filled with people.

“We shuffled,” Charu laughed.

Not only did protestors pour into Washington D.C., but also into hundreds of sister marches in cities across the United States and on all seven continents. Although the overarching theme of the protest was centered on women’s rights, the march also strived to be an umbrella for several other groups that felt threatened by the new administration: immigrants, Muslims, people of color, Native Americans, individuals with disabilities, those who identify as LGBTQIA+, and survivors of sexual assault.

Much of this intersectionality—and whether it was feasible or effective—became a topic of frequent debate. Many critics pointed out that the Women’s March was only as successful as it was because it featured predominantly white women and excluded or silenced other minority groups.

“Well, the committee that organized the protest was certainly very intersectional. The organization actually changed their leadership in response to criticisms that they were not diverse enough,” described Charu. “But the protest itself—I think that it takes time.”

“The problem is that my feelings on the Women’s March are more wrapped up in my feelings of white privilege than they were about being queer,” Sarah Stovall, 3L, reflects. Paraphrasing a tweet she had read from a prominent Black Lives Matter protester, Sarah quotes, “It’s been interesting to see how protesting has been reframed as a sign of true patriotism.”

Ultimately, however, many have responded that the March’s all-encompassing agenda is also a part of its strength.

Courtesy of Jess Fnb's Facebook.

Courtesy of Jess Fnb’s Facebook.

“At this stage, I think, being practical, it’s important to enlist as many people as possible,” said Charu. “I think the heterogeneity of it is actually a strong point because it enables people who might not agree with each other to be at the same protest.”

Sarah ultimately echoed a similar sentiment, “There is so much more that I have in common with this group of people marching than I have not in common with them. I march more in solidarity against what the new administration and the alt-right represent than the pro-stuff.”

Discussing her ultimate takeaway from the Women’s March, Charu concludes, “The stakes are higher right now. Your silence speaks something and so you want to add yourself to the list of people who are speaking out about this.”

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