Sunday, Jan. 20, marked the date of the second annual Women’s March, where chants of “Remember, remember to vote in November” and “Vote, vote, vote,” resonated across the San Diego harbor and worldwide in the hopes of gearing more women to the poll booths during midterms and senatorial elections this year. According to TIME, a record-breaking 79 women across the nation are running for governorship this year, and the number of Democratic House of Representative challengers has increased by 350% since 2016. The fitting message of this year’s march was “Power to the Polls.”
The march was scheduled to overlap Trump’s first year in office; for many marchers, the rally was the perfect place to protest the President while supporting gender equality. At the San Diego march, a woman with a towering puppet of Trump, replete with Cheetos in his pocket and paper-mache mouth and “Putin’s Puppet” scrawled in red on his back, generated a sizable, mirthful crowd. Another woman was accompanied by a caricatured Trump piñata that she had bought in Tijuana. When I asked what brought her to the march, she had no hesitation in her response.
“Definite protest to Donald Trump,” the woman said. “[I’m] hoping for big numbers to finally get the message to him that we just don’t like him. Women are gonna vote, and women are gonna take back the House. You’re gonna be impeached.”
The woman was certainly not alone in her anti-Trump rhetoric. Along with chants demanding gender equality, there were lines that kindled full-blown furnaces in marchers’ eyes. “Show Trump what democracy looks like,” “Can’t build a wall– hands too small,” and “We want a leader, not a creepy Tweeter” were among the more roaring cries.
Amid the fire and fury however, were signs of peace. A vividly painted, flower-decked sign read “If you are reading this, you matter” in curved handwriting, and the woman carrying it was beaming.
“We just need to come together, support each other, and uplift each other,” she said. “I definitely think that if we have more women in office, that we can have our voice heard, and even more men who are understanding and know that just because you support a woman, it doesn’t mean that it’s gonna affect your statute. We’re all equal.”
Messages directed at both genders, like this, remind not just female marchers, but also American men and politicians, that feminism is not a gender-exclusive title. Many men were spotted by the harbor, adorned with signs proudly announcing that “I’m with her” and an arrow pointing to their wives and daughters beside them.
An old, caucasian man parading his anti-Trump sign is just one example of a swelling number of men now displaying support for the Pink Wave, or the rush of women running for office this year .
“To me, the women’s march is an opportunity to come together against bigotry and sexism, so [being a man at a women’s march] doesn’t matter at all,” he said.
Younger generations are, tentatively but with agnate fervor, responding similarly. Senior Nick Kazaoka marched with Social Justice Club, which he wishes, like the march, had more male members.
“A lot of guys have a tendency to avoid this sort of political activism,” Kazaoka said. “I don’t know if this will change, but I certainly hope so.”
This change among the youth may begin with a mother-daughter duo at the march, the former with a sign denouncing Trump’s administration and the latter with one reading “Viva la vagina.”
The daughter, however, declared indifference to the boldness of her sign.
“She wants to advance her liberal agenda, so she needs someone to come with her– a fresh young face like mine,” the daughter said.
The daughter seemed blatantly apathetic towards the march’s meaning, but her mother had, apparently, dragged her there to chip away at the indifference.
“I’m here to teach her about the future and the reality and that you have to be involved,” the mother said. “If you want changes, you have to start by being part of the change. As my husband likes to say, ‘Good parenting travels to child.’”
Perhaps simply being present at the march and serving as a connection between generations could make an impact on how age groups and genders respond to one another on a national governmental level.
Even the man with the Trump sign, which read “sexist,” “idiot,” and “racist” in all-caps black text, believes that togetherness is key to progressing the country towards understanding on divisive issues such as gender equity.
“I’m a Democrat, but unity, as opposed to the divisiveness– that’s the problem,” he said. “They just keep driving a wedge between the so-called conservatives and liberals, etc. We all are human beings, we’re all the same. Almost everybody wants the same thing for their families and our country.”
This man and the one with the megaphone and “Turn or burn” sign at the end of the march’s course may have difficulty finding any common ground, but the marcher has a point: we all want confirmation that our voices are heard. The march is just one way of making this known.