Sewanee students march in solidarity for gender equality

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Lebreshia Pactor (left), (C’20) and Cotie San (C’18) (right). Photo by Lucy Wimmer (C’20).

Ivana Porashka
Staff Writer

On January 20, more than 20 Sewanee students drove to Chattanooga and Nashville to join the Women’s March, which involved demonstrations across the country to protest current politics and gender inequality.

The Women’s March encourages women to register to vote and to run for public office to provide representation for women in a new movement called Power to the Polls, a national voter registration tour.

In Nashville, the Women’s March Tennessee state-chapter Power Together created a morning conference with workshops on citizen involvement. Topics of interest included grassroots organizing, getting more representation in government, and other activism-related classes.

At 6 a.m., two vans carrying students from all class years left campus to attend the full-day event of both the conference and march. Organized independently by students and faculty, the trip to Nashville allowed students and faculty to learn more about how to organize and make their voices heard.

Amanda Bell (C’21) attended a workshop about women in spiritual texts that served to highlight the roles of strong women in religion. “It was liberating to see such a diverse group of women put their differences aside to come together and educate one another,” said Bell.

Charlotte Moffett (C’21) recalled her own excitement over the sense of unity amongst participants for the shared cause. “The Women’s March was such an incredible experience! It included a rally and a march in the downtown area… it was so beautiful to see people of all ages, races, and genders come together to march for change!”

More than 15,000 men and women came out and participated in the event in Nashville, Tennessee. Molly Hoeffler (C’21) explained that it was a wonderful experience because of the welcoming environment: “Seeing peaceful protests go so well and seeing women talking to counter-protestors in a respectful manner… I went with my mom, who has raised me to stand up for what I believe in and fight for what is right.”

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Callan Ghareeb (C’20) holding sign in Nashville. Photo by Lucy Wimmer (C’20).

A myriad of colorful and creative signs featured slogans such as “Dissent is patriotic,” “Black Lives Matter,” “We Are All Dreamers,” “Trumpty Dumpty is Going to Fall,” “The Future is Female,” “Women Belong in the House and in the Senate,” and “If You Aren’t Angry, You Aren’t Paying Attention.”

The massive movement provided a platform for individuals to voice their criticisms regarding President Donald Trump’s policies, address issues of socioeconomic gaps in America, and fight for equal treatment and opportunity regardless of sexual orientation, race, income, religion, able-bodiedness, gender, ethnicity, citizenship status, and refugee status.

These activists emphasize environmental justice, ending domestic violence, accountability in cases of police brutality and racial profiling, as well as the equal access to healthcare services and furthering of women’s reproductive rights.

Female empowerment is also gaining momentum in current news and social media. Time’s Up is a movement founded by Hollywood celebrities in response to the Weinstein Effect (a term that describes a global wave against sexual harassment) and the #metoo movement. Encouraging victims to come out with their stories of sexual abuse demonstrates the widespread prevalence of previously under-reported toxic behavior.

The marchers emphasized that the liberation of women is the liberation of the nation. The official mission statement of the Women’s March says it best: “We must create a society in which women, including Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian, queer and trans women, are free and able to care for and nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.”