This Is What Happens When Women March

This is why women marched in 2017

Did you catch the women’s march last Saturday? Perhaps participate in it? Or see the television coverage or online?

Such extraordinary numbers for a grassroots event! An estimated 1 in 100 Americans marched, and though the numbers are difficult to tally, an estimated 4 million worldwide.

That’s a lot of women. And men.

And talk about inauspicious roots. Teresa Shook, a retired grandmother, told a local TV station, "I went to bed the night of the election just discouraged and woke up feeling worse the next day thinking, 'How could this be?' I was just sad and dumbfounded.”

She decided to do something about it.

Tell me again how one person can’t change the world?

On FB, she invited 40 of her friends to a March on Washington. By the next morning, 10,000 additional names had joined up.

From this grew the planning for the march on Washington. And then, worldwide sister marches sprung up of their own.

The very definition of grass roots.

Because apparently, one woman can change the world.

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We participated in the March on Austin, Texas.

And my, what an event it was. They expected 20,000, but as the weeks beforehand brought it closer, we knew it would be larger than that.

Because although not well-publicized, every time I mentioned it to someone, the response came: “Yes, I know about it. We’re going!”

And this from women of all ages, socio-economic groups, and ethnic bents.

So when we arrived to find the lawn of the Capitol building filled with laughing women and girls (and many men and boys!), with more streaming through the entrance in vast numbers, we were not surprised.

We marched with 50,000 of our Texas sisters and brothers.

Ah, such beautiful energy! From babies all the way to the marvelous crones among us, the spirit of camaraderie, of joining in community for a much higher purpose, wafted over us all.

And the posters! How fabulous. My favorite being held by a sparkling lady who was 90 if she was a day, opens this blog.

Even though this came into existence as an answer to the election, ours was not a march against something.

But rather, a march for women’s rights—sexual and work-place related. The rights of minorities, protection of our environment, people with disabilities and different faiths.

It was a march for unity.

And unified we were!

Women watch out for other women. Even though we were packed like the proverbial sardines for two hours before we took the first parade-route step (they just hadn’t planned for that many!), we did it singing, dancing, laughing, making sure those around us were okay.

It took that long for us to get going because they had to expand the parade route. Right then.

Women, when mobilized, stand up in enormous numbers.

Our belief is that women’s rights are human rights, and we voice this with our chants, our signs, our hats, our feet.

At least half of this country believes returning to the 1950s is not a good idea.

But then, now home and energized, what do we do with all of the momentum?

The official march website is launching a campaign to take 10 actions in the next 100 days.

It’s very simple, and they make it easy to participate.

My first action will be in the mail this week J

Are your beliefs different from mine? No problem! Your voice needs to be heard as well.

Only by opening up a real dialogue—one not based on sound bites and partisan rhetoric—can we ever hope to begin bridging the chasm between us.

As citizens of these United States, we all need to be involved.

What a joy as well to meet all of the next generation of committed, involved women! Made hope surge in my heart.

One vibrant young woman we met, Jana Lynne Sanchez, already works in our county to organize and promote these values. When I mentioned she’d undertaken quite a big mountain to climb (ultra-conservative is an understatement here), she responded:

“We have to start somewhere.”

Indeed.

I’ll be helping her as well.

Nothing can stop a movement of vivacious, committed women. Literally nothing.

Teresa Shook provides the most wonderful counter to the argument that what you do doesn’t matter.

Because apparently, one woman can change the world.

She just did.

What will you be doing to bring about the change you seek?

About the Author Susan Malone

Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.

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52 comments
Chastity says January 25, 2017

I am all for peaceful protests and standing up for what you feel is needed. However, as a woman I am embarrassed by these protest. Women around the world have ZERO rights and here in America so many participate in the protest and don’t even know why.

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    Susan Malone says January 25, 2017

    True that women in many countries have few rights, and that was a big part of these protests–bringing attention to that. I can tell you for a fact that the women we marched with in Austin new exactly why they were marching.

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valmg @ Mom Knows It All says January 25, 2017

I don’t discuss politics in public. I speak often and freely about issues related to people with Down syndrome, and the misuse and abuse of the word retarded. And yes, one person can make a difference. All it takes is for one person to listen to them and so it starts.

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    Susan Malone says January 25, 2017

    So perfectly stated: “All it takes is one person to listen . . .”

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Neely Moldovan says January 25, 2017

how awesome! I really wanted to march but I am 9 months pregnant. I did donate to planned parenthood and a few other causes I believe in.

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    Susan Malone says January 25, 2017

    We wouldn’t have wanted you delivering on the march, Neely! But you were represented well 🙂 And kudos to you for the donations!

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Tamuria says January 25, 2017

“Now you’ve pissed off Grandma’ – love that. There is such an incredible feeling of energy when a large group of people get together to peacefully stand up for what they believe in. I haven’t participated in a march for ages. The last one we took our then young sons to march in protest at the Australian government’s refusal to say ‘sorry’ to the Indigenous people for the many lousy things that have been done to them since the arrival of white people to this country – most notably, stealing their children. I remember the energy and feeling of camaraderie. Heartwarming to hear so many people, of both sexes, participated in the U.S. marches, Susan. Yes, one person can make a difference, for sure.

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    Susan Malone says January 25, 2017

    Oh, I love that you marched for indigenous people, Tami! That’s still happening here as well. And yep–we all can make a difference!

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Lori English says January 25, 2017

Susan,
This article and the whole subject on Women’s Rights is just where we need to be to make changed in our society, Thanks for having the guts for taking part in this affects all women and Our right to our own decisions. I know it is much more than that but we are in this together and change was made. Great Article!!!!

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    Susan Malone says January 26, 2017

    We are in this together, Lori! What can stop a force of women? 🙂

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maria @closetohome says January 25, 2017

I am glad you were able to express yourself. I choose not to discuss politics or religion on social media…

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Teresa Salhi says January 25, 2017

I love how you say women stand for unity. That itself was a wonderful outcome from the March. It is true and proof given that women do support one another.

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Reba Linker says January 25, 2017

As the sign in your photo said, “Never [but never] piss off Grandma!” I cannot believe what is happening. I will seek a way to participate. Your words are inspiring me, Susan.

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Richard McMaster says January 26, 2017

I have learned so much from you about writing. Thanks. Your blogging is not about writing. Will it return to writing? Is that ok on a website about a nonpolitical bausiness? Should anyone be concerned about alienating people trying to keep an open mind or who are not members of a particular political party?.

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    Susan Malone says January 26, 2017

    My editorial blog is all about writing, Rick, the nuts and bolts of it. Check it out at http://www.maloneeditorial.com/editorial-tips/
    This blog has always been about many other things–which is what my personal writing is about. And one thing I know for true–I can’t please everybody, and don’t strive to. 🙂

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Mary says January 26, 2017

I didn’t realize that this march was started by a grandma! New York was crazy and DC was even crazier (so I hear). Afterwards, I just passed out.

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Meghan says January 26, 2017

While I appreciate your passion and dedication, I’m still unclear as to what women’s rights are in jeopardy in the US due to Trump’s presidency? I live outside of Washington DC, so my local news was all about anti-Trump and abortion rights for days (if not months). I watched vulgar signs and listened to vulgar speeches from regular citizens to the likes of Madonna and Ashley Judd. Still, they didn’t do a good job to connect Trump with losing women’s rights. And if the march was to promote equal rights, why were pro-life feminists intentionally excluded? Certainly, in the world of equality and feminism, ALL women have a voice, do they not? And, were the protesters equally outraged at Mrs. Clinton’s support of Saudi Arabia and her husband as they were by Trump’s P-word comment? The treatment of women in Saudi Arabia and by Bill Clinton is shameful–if we’re looking at things fairly and without hypocrisy. I value the freedom to protest, but I’ll never understand what this march was really about. Of course, I admire your commitment to improving the world and mean no disrespect. Being part of a movement can be exciting, energizing, and moving. I also appreciate you welcoming different viewpoints.

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    Susan Malone says January 26, 2017

    I think a lot of people who weren’t part of this don’t really understand what this march was about, Meghan. I can just tell you why I marched:
    Planned Parenthood is being threatened with de-funding. For 100 years, it has supported women’s reproductive health, and it is the only place so many women have access to pap smears, birth control, and choice in pregnancy.
    The idea that women can be sexually harassed–by our now president–and people think that’s okay, is repugnant to those of us who fought for women’s rights. That’s where those “vulgar” signs came from.
    LGBT rights, those of Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, people with disabilities–ALL have been disparaged by this president. Now the overturning of many of those is occurring–as we speak.
    I could go on and on and on. Many of these aren’t about “me,” but I stand with my sisters and brothers who are being harmed. And will as long as I have breath.
    The “fake news” that pro-life feminists were intentionally excluded is a lie. I can tell you that for a fact–many of them marched with us in Austin! We welcomed all views, no matter if they differed.
    And I welcome your dissenting views here as well! Thank you for posting!

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Julia says January 26, 2017

It was so thrilling for me to learn from your article that the powerful movement of women seeking to have their voices heard all started with one woman on Facebook. How empowering is that! I also particularly loved your distinction of marching for women’s and human rights all over the world as opposed to marching in opposition to something. Thank you.

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    Susan Malone says January 26, 2017

    Isn’t that just an amazing story, Julia! One woman really DID change the world. Just gives me such a rush!
    And yep–we marched for women’s and human rights worldwide. The sense of unity was simply awe-inspiring.

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Roslyn Tanner Evans says January 26, 2017

I knew I could count on you to write exactly how I felt watching the March on TV FOR women’s rights. And now I have resources to take my frustration, shock & horror about the future for my granddaughters into 100 days of action. Thank you.

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    Susan Malone says January 26, 2017

    We won’t let your granddaughters down, will we, Roslyn 🙂 They deserve a better world.

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Vironika Tugaleva says January 26, 2017

We can all do our small part to change the world, and I am so glad that you recognize yours as well as encourage others to find their own. Great work, Susan.

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    Susan Malone says January 27, 2017

    And isn’t that what it takes, Vironika–us doing our small parts.

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Beverley Golden says January 26, 2017

Fabulous Susan! Love every word in this post! Yes, one person CAN change the world, especially when the time is ripe and people are actually willing to stand up and get involved. People have been asking if this was just a moment, or if it is a movement. I feel very deep in my soul that it is the beginning of a movement that has no bounds and will ultimately created lasting change to benefit many people. I’ve already heard there will be a Climate March on April 29th and many, many grassroots organizations have action plans to tap into and become active in. Although I live in Canada, the 60,000 people who showed up here in Toronto to march, show how there is solidarity around the world! Bravo…onward…

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    Susan Malone says January 27, 2017

    I SO agree, Beverley–this IS a movement. Just the amazing cross section of folks we marches with in Austin. All ages, colors, genders–all committed to making our world (and not just one’s own small piece of it) better. Onward is right! So excited about the Toronto march as well! Y’all rock!

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Sue Kearney says January 26, 2017

Susan, beautiful. I was marching in Oakland, with my daughter. Wow, what a day.

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    Susan Malone says January 27, 2017

    You know, Sue, that’s one of the beautiful things about the march worldwide–all the generations of women marching together! How cool that you did so in Oakland with your daughter!

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Natasha Botkin says January 26, 2017

Great sharing! Thanks! Xoxo

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Vatsala Shukla says January 27, 2017

I love the Hero photo ‘Now you’ve pissed off Grandma”, Susan. A lovely photo to go with a serious post. I saw the coverage on television and the global impact of the march was in our national newspaper the next morning.

So often people feel that something isn’t right, post it on social media and get on with life. I admire the Granny who decided she was taking it 1 step further and the Universe rewarded her desire to create a difference with people not only in the US but worldwide joining her in the march.

That is inspiring!

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    Susan Malone says January 27, 2017

    Isn’t she just an inspiration, Vatsala! She was SO happy to be there. And yep, by doing her part, just look what she’s done!

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Joan M Harrington says January 28, 2017

Hi Susan 🙂

It is amazing how us women can band together and do something (like marching) to unify not just women but everyone for such an important cause 🙂

Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

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Katarina Andersson says January 28, 2017

Great…yes, indeed, if nobody starts and take initiative nothing would ever happen…so many find excuses to do some small thing to in some way contribute because they think it would not lead anywhere. Though with the women march here it showed that everyone can make a difference.

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    Susan Malone says January 30, 2017

    We all really can make a difference, can’t we, Katarina. If not us, who?

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April Williams says January 30, 2017

I was not a woman who resonated with this march but appreciate your perspective. I live in College Station about 2.5 hours from Austin. I appreciate you sharing your view, perspective and passion in a respectful way as we all need to come together with compassion and empathy in the spirit of understanding one another xo

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    Susan Malone says January 30, 2017

    That’s it in a nutshell, April: “we all need to come together with compassion and empathy in the spirit of understanding one another.” Now, that truly would change the world!

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Apolline Adiju says January 30, 2017

I always believe in unity and togetherness in women who are striving for a standard course. Like you rightly mentioned, “nothing can stop a movement of vivacious, committed women.”

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Crystal says January 30, 2017

Oh yes, one woman can change the world and I believe that many women are receiving an education on how to band together to make their voices heard!

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Tandy Elisala says January 31, 2017

I saw the march on TV… on EVERY continent. It was so inspiring to see. “Women’s Rights are HUMAN RIGHTS” is exactly what we are fighting for (and then some). I applaud you for your work and dedication to this, Susan. I sincerely hope this grassroots movement rises up and continues to expand and influence the next election.

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    Susan Malone says February 1, 2017

    I do too, Tandy. Already women are standing up and getting involved! Since this posted, Jana Sanchez has filed to run for state congress!

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Joyce Hansen says January 31, 2017

Women had to fight for the right to vote against men who thought we shouldn’t worry our pretty heads about such things. Today we now lead the march for liberty and justice for all.

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Jennifer Q says February 1, 2017

I was so proud and moved by the marchers. I wasn’t able to march myself due to health reasons, but a friend took my name along in her pocket. I cried off and in all day that day because my heart swelled so many times with pride.

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    Susan Malone says February 1, 2017

    We were so moved, Jennifer–many tears and much laughter while marching! And how very cool that your friend took your name in her pocket! I just love that.

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