Women Rising | MIT Center for Civic Media

Women Rising

(This is not my post; it's a group effort with contributions from Catherine, Cindy, Emilie, Jing, Natalie, Nicole and Willow)

Some of the best lessons in technology, media and civics come from shared offline experiences in that intersection, and the weekend of January 19-21, 2016, brought plenty of that for some of us at the Center for Civic Media. In particular, our experiences in the Women's March (in different cities) gave us food for thought that we want to remember as time passes, and that's why we are keeping track of them here.

Here are some postcards and reflections shared by women in the Civic community:

Catherine's postcards from the Boston march:

 

From Cindy, reporting on the DC march:

"Planned Parrot-hood". I gazed at this family fondly thinking that they are here to protest like me. Then I read their sign. #democracy #differencesofopinion

My experience in DC, marching alongside my mother and sister, was remarkable and will certainly go down as one of the most meaningful experiences I have had. So many people flew in from all over the country. There was an openness to striking up conversation wherever/whenever -- whether on the train, at the rally, the march, then after at a restaurant, the next day and so on. This was likely partially because you could tell who was/had been protesting by footwear -- sneakers and clear backpacks all over the place, and certainly the pink hats! Remarks like “I’ve never been politically active in my life!” seemed to abound.
 
While there were many white women, I thought there was good representation of ethnicities, differing perspectives, and men as well. Sadly, one of the pro-life contingents chose to yell over the rally speakers, which made it more difficult to foster mutual respect. Also, a group of indigenous women felt objectified/mis-appropriated as a group, as noted on Twitter.
 
We drove down on Inauguration day. I found the subway traffic light and as such it was to hop the train on the Metro, and many people were wearing the red “Make American Great Again” hats. One elderly woman was wearing a red-blue-and-white outfit. She seemed so happy, and the cognitive dissonance I experienced given her demeanor and its significance was challenging and interesting. If I had more time than those 3 minutes on the train, would I ask her why she was so happy? Would I be able to engage in an objective and kind way?
 
 
We are here because “we never thought we would have to fight for our rights. We are mothers and daughters and we are not happy that our reproductive choices are at stake. We are also protecting the future of our children. Trump’s appointees are atrocious.” Texas and Seattle representing.
 
 
From Emilie, reporting on the Santa Fe march:
 
 

Just received this from Santa Fe and it's got my vote for best sign. "My taco is nacho business"

 

From Jing, reporting on the Boston march:

 
The characters in the poster are written in the dialect of northern China. It means "children who behaved like little bastards, get out of our way." The other side has Bruce Lee kicking somebody's ass.
 
We want Trump out of the White House!
 

From Mariel and Natalie, reporting on the Boston march:

(Mariel) As we walked on the Longfellow bridge, surrounded by families who chose to do the same, the T (the Boston subway, that runs over the ground and over the river in this segment) slowed down and started honking the horn at us. The trains were packed, and signs were raised and pushed against the windows. 

In absolute terms, I have been in protests as large as the Boston Women's March; but, then again, I guess that is not particularly special for a Mexico City resident. In terms of proportion, I knew as I witnessed this incident that it was the first time I got to live something this big.

Lots can be and has been said about the creativity seen in the different marches, from seas of pink hats to clever chants, but the stories of effort behind sign-making stuck with us:

- Mary is a quilter; "cutting out bits and pieces comes naturally". She has been attending peace gatherings for the last 15 years. 

- Alicyn on the right is a former hairdresser, and she said this is the first time she feels bad enough to march. She is excited about the 100-day plan.

- Ellen and Mandy are the students behind the MIT sign-making session. They realized that there were probably many students, especially undergrads, that had never attended a protest in their life; and so they plotted to make a welcoming space where they could get fed, inspired to make signs and find marching buddies to stay safe during the march.

Jessica works at one of the major tech employers in Boston. Being from Singapore, she said she had never experienced an event like this, and we don't think she was just talking about the scale of it. It was an honor to get to share this experience with her.

(Mariel) The funny thing about the Women's March in Boston is that we didn't march. The largest public space and the planned route literally could not fit all the people who attended. And so, after an hour and a half of waiting to march, we gave up -- like many others. Point for protesting in Latin America: first we march, then we meet.

Rather than end, however, it would seem that the march filled up the restaurants nearby, Chinatown, and, eventually, the T stations -- full of signs and pink hats. On my journey back, a group of girls wearing pink hats, accompanied by two dads, caught my eye. They turned out to be the youngest daughters of a group of five mothers of 9th graders, all of whom went together to the march in DC. In their hat-making session, they made enough hats for the youngest ones who would stay in the city and attend this march instead.

When you lose faith in democracy, a ten-year-old on the subway might talk you back into it.

 

From Nicole, reporting from the march in DC:

I have so many photos from the DC March. The rally / march / protest was inspiring and peaceful. The only problem was with some Trump supporters trying taunt the crowd but we didn’t take the bait (I have video). I did notice very little direction from the organizers and almost no security. I don’t think they were prepared for this size crowd. We also didn’t get to hear all the speakers due to technical issues and they ran 2 hours longer than planned.
 

A few of my favorite photos (more on Flickr) --

 

From Willow, reporting from the march in Seattle:

”If you knew anything about my uterus, you wouldn’t keep picking fights with it!”
 
The Seattle march was massive (135k last estimate I read), 25-40% bigger than anticipated. I really liked that the leadership and first speakers at our starting location made two main points: we are on occupied territory, and First Nations people will lead our march and to not get in front of them; and to have patience and space for others so we can take care of ourselves and each other on the march. It was also a “silent march,” meaning they encouraged people to not do chants. There were a few designated folk with megaphones who were “designated,” and who sang songs and had speeches along the way. This made it seem less adversarial somehow?
 
The only thing that really stood out to me as needing improvement is that there was no closure at the end. No talks, booths, or bands or anything, so it just kind of… fizzled.
 
 
 
Techie bonus:
 
A datasheet with attendance estimates from the different Women's Marches.