An opinion piece by Annie Bennett '19
I recently attended my third Women’s March in Washington D.C. While protesting, I couldn’t help but wonder what comes after today. Is there even a point to marching? I’ve gone for three years and it seems as though nothing has really changed. A certain someone is still President, the Equal Rights Amendment hasn’t been passed, and women are still being oppressed systematically. No matter the cause, there seems to be little tangible change that directly results from a rally.
In fact, the day after the protest, the adrenaline has usually worn off, the posters have been recycled, and it seems as though the only signs that the march even happened are the pictures on Instagram and the sore throat you’ve acquired. So, why do it at all? Well, I believe that marches are dual purpose. The first is for the benefit of the protestors themselves. The community of support that a rally provides is unmatchable. In a seemingly hopeless cycle of persecution, the mere position of being surrounded by those who want a better and more equal future is extremely powerful. The second reason to march is for the opposition. Even if no feasible change occurs, having thousands of strong, powerful feminists uniting against prejudice and marching on the nation’s capital sends a very clear message. We will not stand for bigotry. We will not go down without a fight. We will not allow the government or citizenry to create more hate. We demand equality. These messages are important, and having protests projects those goals in a way that cannot be ignored.
However, it is just a message. It’s not a law or anything palpable. That does not mean that marches are not important. It just means that they are not enough. One cannot just attend the Women’s March and call themselves an ally or an activist. While it is a good start, people must go further. How? Well, I suggest becoming a monthly donator to an organization such as Earth Justice, the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, or the Human Rights Campaign. Don’t have money? Volunteer your time. Don’t have time? Join an inclusion club and set aside one Admiral Hour a month to listen and discuss important issues. Take a topic you were interested in from Unity Day and learn more about it. Call your Congress member and tell them your opinion on an issue. Or attend a local, political forum. Most of all, stand up against acts of oppression, listen when mistakes are made, and vote. This is not supposed to be a lecture about what you have to do, but rather some suggestions that will allow the protest to go on after it’s over. This is how we create longevity in important movements.
When it really comes down to it, protests are important and necessary. However, alone, they are simply not enough. Rather, they should work to inspire people to take further action. So, what does happen after the march? Well, that’s up to each and every one of us.