The larger of two Women’s Marches held in Pittsburgh last weekend was only three blocks long, beginning at the City-County Building and ending a short walk west, at Market Square. The short parade route, however, seemed to concentrate the intensity with which more than 15,000 marchers protested a variety of issues. Unsurprisingly, issues of gender inequality and sexual violence formed the core of marcher’s complaints. There was the teenage girl whose sign declared that she would stand with sexual assault victims because she was one, and “I wouldn’t want to stand alone.” An older woman carried a sign reading “I used to have a uterus, and I vote.” There were men, too, explicitly standing in solidarity with wives, partners, and daughters, and one memorably carrying a sign that said, “I am too gay for this shit.” Their refrain, “Her body, her choice” to women’s calls of “My Body, My Choice” was among several powerful moments of solidarity in the short march.
Yet it was not only pussy hats and signs declaring that “Girls Just Want to Have Fun(Damental Human Rights).” Unlike the smaller sister march in the East Liberty neighborhood, organizers did not bill this march as explicitly committed to intersectionality — the notion that the fight against gender and sexual inequity inherently intersects with anti-racist, anti-poverty, and other social justice work — and the crowd was noticeably white. Nonetheless, marchers protested the Trump administration’s likely approach to a number of issues. There were calls, for example, to heed the reality of climate change — one woman wore a button declaring herself “Alarmed as a woman, alarmed as a scientist” in her demand that the new president address racial violence, and preserve the Affordable Care Act. And if an all-white church group’s Black Lives Matter banner highlighted the lack of diversity in the march, one of the most touching signs described how “The Affordable Care Act Saved My Life” and tallied the cost of his cancer treatments, all of which the law had covered.
Together, these marchers created a powerful feeling of solidarity, especially for those whom the Trump victory has left feeling marginalized and unsafe in their own communities. But the march was not only about anger, consciousness-raising, and solidarity building. More than this, marchers had messages for those in power.
One young boy carried one of the more touching signs, which simply read “Mr. Trump, please be kind.” Another, though, was more direct, cautioning Representative Tim Murphy, the region’s Republican congressman, that 2018 was just around the corner, and that the marchers had their eyes on him. In moment’s like this, the march was a reminder that the protest was not an end unto itself; rather, it was a reminder to many who are frustrated by and fearful of the Trump administration that thousands of others stand in solidarity with them, and that the concrete efforts of organizing and challenging those who would empower the administration had just begun.