Chants of “I refuse to lose” and “I choose to be more than what you think of me" rang throughout the crowd. Signs read “Intersectional Feminism” and “Black Lives Matter.” Posters depicted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dressed as Rosie the Riveter.
Among the crowd, a group of more than 30 students from Penn Democrats and Penn Association for Gender Equity joined thousands at the Women’s March in Center City on the morning of Jan. 19.
This year, there were two concurrent women's marches in the city on Jan. 19 — the original, locally organized Philly Women Rally along Benjamin Franklin Parkway, along with a new, nationally organized event at LOVE Park. The national Women’s March on Washington has recently been embroiled in controversy after the march's co-chairs were accused of anti-Semitism.
Penn Dems and PAGE intended to participate in the locally organized event. The delegation of students met at the Women's Center at 9 a.m. and arrived at the national march at LOVE Park. After listening to several speakers at the national march, the two student groups realized that they were at the incorrect event and walked to the locally organized Philly Women Rally at 11 a.m. The crowds at the Philly Women Rally far exceeded the numbers at the LOVE Park march.
Penn Dems President and College sophomore Emma Carlson said the group took a delegation of students to the march this year to encourage students to go, especially freshmen who have not had the chance to attend a women's march before.
“We can’t be a solely on-campus club,” Penn Dems Political Director and College sophomore Owen Voutsinas-Klose said. “Our goal was to bring everybody off-campus into the Philadelphia community and play a small part in the Women’s March.”
“It was remarkable how many people, beyond online posts or likes, actually turned out in person on a cold Saturday morning to protest what [President] Donald Trump’s doing, for women’s rights, to keep on the spirit of a movement that started two years ago,” Voutsinas-Klose said.
Carlson, who attended the march last year, noted that there were fewer people this year, but the same energy level and enthusiasm remained.
The #MeToo movement and continued instances of sexual assault also compelled College freshman Aidan Mayer Ahearn to attend the march with Penn Dems.
“Not only is rape culture disregarded, but also when it happens, when the perpetrators are caught, they’re not punished for their actions as they should be,” Ahearn said.
Voutsinas-Klose also added that everyone, including men, should be supportive of the national women's movement.
“Men can be active supporters in the women’s movement by listening to the voices of women and hearing exactly what their concerns are,” Voutsinas-Klose said.
College sophomore Rachel Steinig also spoke at the local Philly Women Rally to advocate for the gun control movement, March for Our Lives.
“As a queer Jewish woman, it’s terrifying that there are bigots out there that believe people like me shouldn’t exist,” Steinig said on stage. “What’s even more terrifying is how easy it is for these bigots or for anyone to get access to a gun in America. But instead of cowering in fear, we need to rise up — we need to demand comprehensive gun control legislation.”
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