The Women’s March completely dominated both headlines and news feeds all day yesterday – and continues to today.
It’s literally everywhere.
It began as The Women’s March on Washington and became something much, much bigger than America’s capital, uniting more than 2 million passionate protestors of all races, ages and religions in cities around the world.
For those living under a rock (or just choosing to ignore the news), the movement protested the first full day of President Trump’s tenure yesterday. But it much more than that.
Here are six things we can learn from it:
1. Social media plays a role like no other in modern day mobilization.
When it comes to the mobilization of the masses, social media is the driving force in doing so in today’s world. That’s because everyone from your 10-year-old nephew to your grandma is on it. Not only did it play a key role in spreading the word of city gatherings, a major movement happened online to accompany the physical one, with women – and men – of all backgrounds taking to social media platforms to share inspirational quotes, thoughts and photos before, during and after the marches. It’s still happening as we speak. For some people – like the ill, physically disabled or elderly – social media was the only way they could, and can continue to, participate.
— Elsa Waithe (@elsajustelsa) January 22, 2017
2. The size of the marches demonstrates the importance of real-life connectivity.
While social media played a central role in this massive movement, the physical enormity and scope of the gatherings proved that the power of physical, real-life human contact and unity isn’t a thing of the past. Not even close. Anyone who participated will tell you that the infectious energy of the crowd was truly empowering, liberating and lasting (as in, all night long). They say there’s power in numbers and – while something can be said for Facebook ‘likes’ or Instagram followers – the images of the incredible scope of this event globally demonstrate more than anything of the power of the united voice of the physical masses.
3. A rapidly growing number of men are becoming feminists.
Something else was glaringly clear in the coverage of the Women’s Marches: It wasn’t just about the women. Not in 2017. Like Prime Minister Trudeau, a growing number of men are calling themselves feminists, proudly standing beside their wives, sisters, daughters and friends, waving their own signs and rocking their own pro-female empowerment t-shirts. Starting them young, many dads also brought their sons along for the experience. And yes – many were shamelessly wearing pink.
4. Sometimes children can be the most powerful players.
A slew of celebrities – from Alicia Keys and Scarlett Johansson to Michael Moore and Madonna – took the stage in Washington yesterday. With Johansson’s revelation that she used Planned Parenthood at the age of 15 and Moore’s tearing up of a copy of the Washington Post newspaper, they were pretty powerful. But one of the most moving speeches came from a less recognizable face – and that of a six-year-old girl. Sophie Cruz, a (very) young immigration activist urged people to continue to fight for the rights of immigrants. Seriously, just watch it for yourself.
5. It proves you can simultaneously address multiple issues with one platform.
While gender equality and female empowerment were front and centre of the march, it was very much a multi-layered protest in its roots. That’s because “women’s issues” aren’t as simple as things like equal pay and access to birth control. Women’s issues are also race issues, immigration issues, sexuality issues and unique issues faced by women of minority groups. While the intersectional nature of the march has been criticized for its potential to dilute a saturation diverse causes, in my opinion, it’s the intersectional nature of the march that made it so important. In order to fight for true equality, we need to not only elevate historically marginalized groups, but also understand their struggle. A massive, global platform like this one offers a chance for their voices to be heard and their signs to be read (and shared on social media).
6. It’s possible to find humour in trying times.
While there were no doubt some angry and upset protestors, there were also some pretty freakin’ hilarious signs (regardless of your political stance, you have to admit this is true) seen at marches around the globe – many of which have made their way to social media. (Case-in-point: the elderly woman with a sign that read, “I can’t believe I still have to protest this fucking shit.”). Others were wittier than award-winning advertising campaigns. Point being, you don’t have to be driven solely by anger. In fact, you can use your political activism as a chance to get those creative juices flowing.
Whether you chimed in on social media, attended your city’s local protest, hit the road for Washington or witnessed the enormity of what the Women’s March on Washington became at home on TV, it’s same to say that the entire thing will go down in history as one of North America’s most significant protests.
It’s also safe to say that it’s far from over.