Photo credit: Jo Freeman

A women’s march has become an annual event.  The first, and by far the largest march, took place in DC the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017.  The DC Mall was so packed with people that no one could march.  This year marching was easy through the streets south of Capitol Hill.

The first four marches were held in January.  The last two shifted to October, when the weather is warmer.  This has not had any impact on attendance, in part because it competes with other October demonstrations.

The theme of the 2017 march was pussy, a term popularized by President Trump.  The theme in 2022 was water.  Marchers want to see a feminist blue wave elect more pro-choice Democrats.  That was purely implicit as no one mentioned Democrats or the Democratic Party, though several signs castigated Republicans.  The Supreme Court’s decision that laws regulating abortion shall be left to the states has made that issue highly partisan.

In 2017 POTUS was the object of ire.  In 2022 it was SCOTUS.

DC Marchers gathered in Folger Park, just SE of the Capitol, at 11:00 a.m.

They came from many places.

A few printed signs were handed out.  Most were handmade.  

Some were very creative.

The night before, a dozen women gathered at a DC store to make signs for the march.  A table in Folger Park held poster boards and marking pens for those who wanted to make their own.  

Beginning at noon, speakers and singers addressed the crowd.  

At 1:30, roughly 20,000 people left the park, taking a circuitous route to the reflecting pool just west of the Capital.   Arriving over an hour later the march dissipated.

The only visible union was SEIU 1199.  

Emails to potential participants discouraged the use of coat-hangers or handmaiden imagery.  Pink pussy caps were not discouraged, but only a few were worn.  In the 2017 march, pink pussy hats were ubiquitous.

Demographically, ninety percent of the marchers were female.  More than ninety percent were white.  All of the security guards were Black.  They were employed by a private security firm which was hired by the march.  Many vendors brought buttons and shirts to sell to the crowd.  Most of those were Black men; a couple were Black women.

The age range was wide, though most participants were in their twenties or thirties.

It’s common for other groups to come to compatible marches to promote their own causes. This year over a dozen Iranians asked people to “Support the Iranian Women in their Fight for Freedom and Justice!

The DC chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence also joined in.  “The Sisters” got its start in San Francisco in 1979.  It’s been proliferating and protesting since then.  They never fail to attract attention.

Halfway through the speeches, a few pro-lifers showed up with signs saying “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart” They were quickly surrounded by pro-choicers who proceeded to drown them out.

There were different views on what is a woman, but there were no debates or confrontations.

Jo Freeman is a feminist scholar and author.
Copyright © 2022 Jo Freeman