The Women’s March on Washington, a mobile protest organized in response to President Trump’s election, is under way in downtown Washington, D.C.
The event’s organizers are anticipating roughly 250,000 marchers, many of whom supported Hillary Clinton for president and are wary about the new administration’s policies towards women, as well as its approach toward the LGBT community, minorities, immigrant groups, and others. According to the march’s mission statement, participants aim to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world, that women’s rights are human rights.” Six hundred similar marches are being held Saturday around the country. Others have been organized around the world.
In Washington, a morning rally will be held at 10 a.m. ET, and the march will begin at 1:15 p.m. ET. We’ll bring you the latest updates from the nation’s capital as the day goes on.
Marchers Leave Their Protest Signs in Front of Trump's D.C. Hotel
Protest signs were ubiquitous at the Women’s March on Saturday. Some posters called for action (“Speak up for humanity”), while others portrayed messages of female empowerment (“The future is female”). By the afternoon, it became clear that many demonstrators didn’t plan to keep theirs for posterity’s sake. Instead, they left them behind in a conspicuous place:
It wasn’t just the pussy-cat ears: Many of the signs in downtown D.C. employed the word made infamous by President Trump in the leaked Access Hollywood video in October. Women hoisted hand-sketched vaginas and drew cat shapes on their block letters. One even used the c-word. They are reclaiming “pussy,” they said.
Mary Trudeau, 47, came from Atlanta. “After the election I was so depressed,” she said. “I said, I have to go, I have to participate, because if I don’t I’ll feel like I just did nothing.”
Her sign was inspired by Trump’s words in the Access Hollywood video, she said. “Instead of it being a vulgar word, it being a word of empowerment for women. Everything about my person is for me to decide.”
Kerry Gaertner-Gerbracht had her 11-year-old daughter make her sign—she wanted to get involved. “Trump has brought the word to the national conversation,” Gaertner-Gerbracht said. “If this is what our president is saying, she should get comfortable with it, too.”
One element of Trump’s victory, she believes, was “the masculine fear of the vagina. It’s a very basic thing.”
Sinead Macleod, a 24-year-old from New York, said it was important to show female genitalia and “reclaim the grossness—and the beauty.
“During the debates when [Clinton] went to the bathroom, he said that was gross,” she said. “There’s no reason to be ashamed of it.”
Macleod might have out-done the other protesters in terms of female-anatomy drawings. She has an IUD tattooed on one ankle, and vagina dentata on the other.
I'm close to the White House now, on the Ellipse, the public, lawn-like area beyond the South Lawn of the executive mansion. Protesters are pouring onto the grass from all angles, and a dance circle has broken out in the center of the lawn. There are children frolicking around, and demonstrators are cheering and waving their signs.
The White House is where the protesters planned to finish their march. But President Trump, who many of them are specifically marching against, isn't in the building. He left about an hour ago for a meeting in Langley, Virginia, with CIA officials.
Scarlett Johansson Asks Trump to Support 'Women in Our Fight for Equality'
Various celebrities and activists are still speaking at the Women’s March rally, which began roughly five hours ago.
“President Trump, I did not vote for you. That said, I respect that you are our president, and I want to be able to support you, but first I ask that you support me,” American actress Scarlett Johansson said from the stage. “I ask you to support all women in our fight for equality in all things.”
She told her fellow protesters that she’s hoping people discontented with November’s election results will become more politically active in their communities. “Let this weight not drag you down, but help to get your heels stuck in,” she said.
Kamala Harris: 'We Are at an Inflection Point in the History of Our Country'
California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris told protesters at the Women’s March that she believes “we are at an inflection point in the history of our country.”
Harris, who recently became only the second black woman and first Indian-American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, compared the moment to when her parents met “when they were active in the civil-rights movement.” Elaborating on the comparison, Harris said that it is a moment where Americans must collectively ask the question of “what kind of country America is.” “Ladies and gentlemen, I believe the answer is ‘a good one,’” Harris said. “Imperfect though we may be, I believe we are a great country.”
The lawmaker also said that women are tired of “simply being thought of as a particularly constituency or demographic.” Together, “we are powerful and we are a force that cannot be dismissed or written off onto the sidelines.”
Encouraging activism, Harris said: “It’s going to get harder before it gets easier,” but added that she believes “we will keep fighting no matter what.”
The women I’ve talked to so far are driven by a variety of issues, but for some, the future of reproductive rights is the biggest concern.
Dena Delaviz, from Columbus Ohio, held a sign that read “Abortions = healthcare,” and said she was inspired, in part, by a T.V. appearance by Planned Parenthood director Cecile Richards. She can’t understand Republicans’ desire to defund the organization. “Planned Parenthood sees Republicans, too,” she said.
Kaitlin Bruinius, a student at Appalachian State University, said she is worried about losing access to free birth control. Without the Affordable Care Act’s birth-control provision, her monthly contraceptives would be $80, she said. “It makes it a lot easier, but [Trump] doesn’t understand how great it is. He’s going to take it away without being in our shoes.”
Pooja Prasad, a doctor in Prince William County, Virginia said Obama’s election seemed to have made it more acceptable to talk about birth control and STD tests with her teenage patients. In her area, many teens rely on Planned Parenthood. Now, “I’m afraid that I’m going to have to tell teenagers that they can’t go and get free birth control, free pap smears.”
But many of the attendees were also worried about losing health insurance coverage in general, not just for reproductive care.
Yedda Olson, a high-school teacher from Wisconsin, road tripped through the night. She said many of her students' families work in factories and rely on the Obamacare exchanges for insurance. Her former students want to stay on their parents' insurance until they're 26. "A lot of my former students are really worried about losing that," she said.
Cecile Richards: 'Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights'
“Reproductive rights are human rights,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told protesters at the Women’s March.
She warned that the Republican-controlled Congress poses a threat to reproductive rights, and called on the assembled crowd to “call your members of Congress, call your senator, and say, ‘We cannot go back.’” She added: “One of us can be dismissed, two of us can be ignored, but together we are a movement, and we are unstoppable.”
Richards made a pledge to the crowd that the doors at Planned Parenthood will “stay open.”
“Planned Parenthood is not the problem,” she said. “We’re the solution.”
Snapshots From Women's Marches Around the Country and the World
There are roughly 600 sister protests to the Women’s March on Washington that are being held around the country Saturday—and more around the world. The demonstrations in the United States are reflective of the grassroots way that women organized after the election, and perhaps foreshadow a new strategy for Democrats ahead of the 2018 midterms. They remind one political reporter of another movement entirely:
The massive crowds in DC, Chicago, Boston etc. looks like Democrats are tapping the same energy of opposition as the tea party in 2009
The march through Chicago was canceled because the number of participants—some 150,000—grew too large. Instead, marchers are staying in place and extending the rally, which was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. local time. “There is no safe way to march. We are just going to sing and dance and make our voices heard here,” an organizer announced.
Michael Moore: 'We Have to Take Over the Democratic Party'
Activist and filmmaker Michael Moore had a message for the crowd at the Women’s March: “We have to take over the Democratic Party.”
Moore took the stage to outline a plan of action to oppose the Trump administration, starting by urging the crowd to start calling their members of Congress “every single day” and calling upon young people and women to run for elected office themselves.
“The old guard of the Democratic Party has to go,” Moore said. “We need new leadership, we need young leadership, we need women’s leadership.”
Moore argued that public backlash over a move by House Republicans earlier in the month to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics prompted Republicans to quickly backtrack. He suggested that similar activism will get results in the future, though he failed to mention that the backtrack also followed a disapproving tweet from then-president-elect Donald Trump. “I’m telling you these calls work,” he said, “that’s how powerful you are.”
'We’re Here to Show We’re Present and Planning on Staying'
In the early morning hours of Saturday, a sea of color flowed into the nation’s capital. People descended from around the country to attend the Women’s March on Washington. Amid the crowds was a group of roughly 15 people donning butterfly wings inspired by Favianna Rodriguez, an artist based in California.
The imagery is meant to represent migration and beauty, said Alma Couverthie, the senior director of community organizing for CASA, a Maryland-based organization that focuses on Latinos and immigrants. CASA began planning for the march two weeks ago, with the additional purpose of representing immigrants.
Donald Trump, who made immigration a cornerstone of his campaign, has vowed to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and deport millions of undocumented immigrants. March attendees were fearful about what immigration policies the new administration may implement.
“I think it’s going to affect us—all of us,” said Madai Ledezma, who’s undocumented, in Spanish. “If they deport me, I don’t know what her situation will be,” she said, looking at her daughter who she had brought to the march. Ledezma, who’s participated with CASA for three years, added: “Perhaps, in the future, [attending the march] will help her, so she can fight for those of us that don’t have a voice.”
Fatima Coreas was in attendance to represent mothers like Ledezma. “[I’m here] for Latina mothers, who have left everything behind; they migrated to the United States to search for a better life for their kids,” she told me in Spanish. Coreas has a connection to mothers who have migrated for their children—she came to the United States from El Salvador with her mother in 2007, and was shielded from deportation by the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “We’re here to show we’re present and planning on staying,” she said.
Ledezma and Coreas, with their wings securely fastened, promptly began chanting “Se ve, Se siente, el pueblo esta presente.” Translated to: “You see, you feel it, the town is present.” It didn’t take long before their chants dissipated into those of crowds around them: “This is what democracy looks like.” But it was no matter, as Ledezma said put it: the march is meant to represent everyone.
Roslyn Brock: 'Courage Will Not Skip This Generation'
“Courage will not skip this generation,” Chairman of the National Board of Directors for the NAACP Roslyn Brock told the Women’s March crowd. “Courage will not skip this generation.”
Brock reminded the crowd that black women are a powerful force in elections, saying that they “exercised the right to vote larger than any other group in this nation,” but added that “the silence has been deafening for black women and their families who also feel forgotten and locked out of a prosperous society.”
She called upon the crowd to organize, and fight. “We will march on till victory is won,” she declared, referencing Lift Every Voice And Sing, an 1899 poem later adopted as the black national anthem.
I’m riding on the Metro’s Green line from the station in Petworth, to the north, to the L’Enfant station, in the south, and the train is holding for 5 to 10 minutes at each stop. The conductor keeps repeating that "due to amazing, outstanding turnout, we are holding to make room for people." Riders aren't mad—at least not yet—even though the Women’s March rally is already under way. They keep cheering when he says "amazing turnout."
Gloria Steinem: 'We Must Put Our Bodies Where Our Beliefs Are'
American political activist and feminist Gloria Steinem thanked the crowd assembled at the Women’s March rally, and thanked them for “understanding that sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are.”
Reflecting on her life of activism, Steinem described the march as “an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen.” She added that the people gathered in Washington and across the country to march “is the upside to the downside.”
She suggested that Trump’s presidency will inspire a wave of continued activism. “When we elect a possible president, we too often go home. When we elect an impossible president, we’re never going home,” she said.
Steinem said that if a critical mass of people come together to oppose Trump, those people can prevail. “The Constitution does not begin with ‘I the president,’” she said, “it begins with ‘we the people.’”
America Ferrera: 'Our Safety and Freedoms Are on the Chopping Block'
The rally for the Women’s March on Washington is under way, and features a long roster of speakers with some of the celebrity star power that may have been missing from President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
American actress America Ferrera just spoke, warning the crowd that the new administration is a threat that must be opposed. “Marchers, make no mistake,” she said. “We are every single one of us under attack. Our safety and freedoms are on the chopping block, and we are the only ones who can protect one another. If we do not stand together, march together, fight together for the next four years, then we will lose together.”
Ferrera ticked off a long list of what the anti-Trump protesters out in full force Saturday must stand together to oppose: “the demonization of our Muslim brothers and sisters,” attacks on LGBTQ rights and access to abortion, “the systemic murder and incarceration of our black brothers and sisters,” and building walls.
“It’s been a heart-rending time to be both a woman and an immigrant in this country,” she said. “Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack, and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday. But the president is not America. His Cabinet is not America. Congress is not America. We are America.”
'We Can't Have True Freedom If We Can't Control Our Bodies'
Suzanna Walters, 54, traveled from Boston to attend the march. “I’ve been coming to marches for a long time. We’re really witnessing the rise of fascism in America. ... It behooves all of us to get out here.” Walters is attending with a group dubbed Feminists Against Trump.
Joining her is Judith Levine, 64, from Brooklyn. Levine touted a sign saying “Abortion rights is equal to human rights.” “I was one of the people that fought to have abortion decriminalized,” she told me. “We can't have true freedom if we can't control our bodies.”
Saturday’s march was born, in part, out of Hillary Clinton’s loss in November. Politically progressive women considered Clinton a champion of women’s rights, and worried about what the Trump administration would bring.
On Friday, Clinton attended Trump’s inauguration wearing white, the color worn by suffragettes who themselves demonstrated in the streets. And this morning Clinton thanked the women marchers, many of whom are attending in her name.
Thanks for standing, speaking & marching for our values @womensmarch. Important as ever. I truly believe we're always Stronger Together.
There’s been some speculation that the crowds for Saturday’s march could well exceed those at the inauguration ceremony for President Trump. According to The Washington Post, Metro ridership was down Friday compared with recent inaugurations, and “fewer riders flocked to the system than would even on a typical weekday.” I can report anecdotally—as other journalists have on Twitter—that the two Metro lines I took Friday morning to get to the inauguration weren’t packed at all.
As for non-Metro modes of transportation, roughly 1,200 bus parking permits were issued for Saturday versus some 200 for Friday. And the trains incoming from Baltimore seem sure to be crowded as well.
"We Want to Make Sure Our Rights Are Not Taken Away"
Lisa Gissendaner, 56, is here from Canton, Ohio. Originally, she intended to March in Cleveland but decided a week ago, with encouragement from friends, to join the march in DC. Gissendaner, who's here with the African American Policy Forum, told me she came to support women across the country and women of color.
"We want to make sure our rights are not taken away," she said, adding that she's also here to represent women who have been shot and killed by police. As we talked, she began stomping her foot on the ground. "In my shoe, are the names of my great nieces and nephews." She added: "Every foot forward is a step for them."
Nanette Nilssen, 61, and Sue Kvendru, 56, just got off a 17-hour bus ride from Minnesota. They've been planning for the march for weeks, attending regular meetings to make signs and coordinate. Nilssen, who supported Hillary Clinton, felt motivated to come because of her work. "I march for children because they need the [Affordable Care Act], they need a decent education. I've spent 25 years as a day-care provider," she said. Kvendru jumped in: "This is just the start."
"We sat back and let it happen. Now we have to organize and take it back," Kvendru said.
It's 8 a.m. ET in Washington, D.C., and the city is already bustling. Droves of march attendees are filling into Metro cars, touting their signs, donning Women's March sashes, and breaking into the occasional cheer. Alexanne Neff, 26, told me she traveled here from New Jersey to participate: "I'm tired of having to fight for women's rights and I wanted to be part of a really big voice."
Beware the lidless toilet, even if one won’t give you COVID-19.
In the dark early days of the pandemic, when we knew almost nothing and feared almost everything, there was a moment when people became very, very worried about toilets. More specifically, they were worried about the possibility that the cloud of particles toilets spew into the air when flushed—known in the scientific literature as “toilet plume”—might be a significant vector of COVID transmission. Because the coronavirus can be found in human excrement, “flushing the toilet may fling coronavirus aerosols all over,” The New York Timeswarned in June 2020. Every so often in the years since, the occasional PSA from a scientist or public-health expert has renewed the scatological panic.
In retrospect, so much of what we thought we knew in those early days was wrong. Lysoling our groceries turned out to not be helpful. Masking turned out to be very helpful. Hand-washing, though still important, was not all it was cracked up to be, and herd immunity, in the end, was a mirage. As the country shifts into post-pandemic life and takes stock of the past three years, it’s worth asking: What really was the deal with toilet plume?
Blaming the housing crisis on hedge funds and private equity may be easy, but it’s dead wrong.
In reporting on the housing crisis, I often hear some version of a simple story purporting to explain why so many Americans struggle to afford a place to live. The story goes like this: Housing costs are unaffordable because [INSERT BAD COMPANY HERE] is greedy and jacking up prices. The villain can be Airbnb or developers; it can be deep-pocketed foreigners or iBuyers. The story is compelling because it does not directly implicate regular people, sympathetic institutions, or elected officials.
To state the obvious, stories can be compelling without being true. Especially suspect are stories that scapegoat a group or an entity that is impossible or at least very difficult to defend: banks or oil companies or criminals, say. The scapegoat takes the blame for a complex problem. The trick is to cast a villain such that the surrounding facts become irrelevant. Who cares whether criminals have actually destroyed American cities? Attempting to stress-test theories like this just makes you look pro-crime and puts you on the same side as people who have committed terrible acts. But false narratives are dangerous because they distract attention from real problems, and plausible solutions.
Professional hockey claims to want greater diversity but won’t stand up to criticism.
The National Hockey League showed recently that there’s a big difference between wanting inclusiveness and being willing to fight for it.
Earlier this month, the NHL began promoting its Pathway to Hockey Summit, a job fair in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on February 2 in advance of the NHL All-Star weekend. The point of the career fair was to broaden the hiring pool for staff positions in professional hockey. On LinkedIn, the NHL posted, “Participants must be 18 years of age or older, based in the U.S., and identify as female, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, and/or a person with a disability. Veterans are also welcome and encouraged to attend.”
Directly targeting diverse job candidates was a sound strategy. The NHL’s own demographic study last year revealed that 83.6 percent of its workforce is white. Men hold nearly 62 percent of the league’s jobs.
Identifying as someone who categorically rejects books suggests a much larger deficiency of character.
This article was featured in One Story to Read Today, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a single must-read from The Atlantic, Monday through Friday. Sign up for it here. It was updated at 2:10 p.m. ET on January 25, 2023.
During Kanye West’s spectacular plummet last fall, my friends and I would often marvel at the latest outrageous thing he’d said. And we would send around clips of what were, in hindsight, terribly suspect comments he’d previously made. One such example was “I am not a fan of books,” which Ye told an interviewer upon the publication of his own book, Thank You and You’re Welcome. “I am a proud non-reader of books,” he continued. That statement strikes me as one of the more disturbing things he’s ever said. Ye’s patently reprehensible anti-Semitic tirades rightly drew the world’s scorn. But his anti-book stance is disturbing because it says something about not only Ye’s character but the smugly solipsistic tenor of this cultural moment.
The existence of love, trust, respect, and safety in a relationship is often dependent on moments you might write off as petty disagreements.
This article was featured in One Story to Read Today, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a single must-read from The Atlantic, Monday through Friday. Sign up for it here.
The things that destroy love and marriage often disguise themselves as unimportant. Many dangerous things neither appear nor feel dangerous as they’re happening. They’re not bombs and gunshots. They’re pinpricks. They’re paper cuts. And that is the danger. When we don’t recognize something as threatening, then we’re not on guard. These tiny wounds start to bleed, and the bleed-out is so gradual that many of us don’t recognize the threat until it’s too late to stop it.
I spent most of my life believing that what ended marriages were behaviors I classify as Major Marriage Crimes. If murder, rape, and armed robbery are major crimes in the criminal-justice system, I viewed sexual affairs, physical spousal abuse, and gambling away the family savings as major crimes in marriage.
How the new obesity pills could upend American society
About a decade ago, Susan Yanovski, an obesity researcher at the National Institutes of Health, held a symposium to discuss a question that bedeviled her field: Why was it so hard to develop weight-loss drugs that actually worked and didn’t harm the people they were meant to help?
For years, the most popular weight-loss pills had earned their stigma. For example, the drug cocktail known as fen-phen was taken off the market for causing heart disease almost as reliably as it promoted healthy weight loss. The only intervention that seemed to work consistently was bariatric surgery. Doctors sliced into patients’ digestive system to reduce stomach size and slow the absorption of nutrients to stave off feelings of hunger. But these operations were expensive and complicated, and in some cases posed serious risks.
This article was featured in One Story to Read Today, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a single must-read from The Atlantic, Monday through Friday. Sign up for it here.
In publishing, there are some books that are too big to fail. Very early on you get the message that this is a Major and Very Important Book. In 2013, that book was Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which sold more than 1.5 million copies in its first year. She was the chief operating officer of Facebook, back when most of us had no understanding of the platform’s fearsome powers—in the halcyon days when we thought it was just for sharing pictures of the grandkids and ruining marriages. The book was about how women can make it to the top. It was a sort of “work-life balance” category buster, because she was telling women to pretty much forget about the “life” part.
Over the past 10 years, the “This Is Fine” dog has evolved from a joke into an indictment.
Memes rarely endure. Most explode and recede at nearly the same moment: the same month or week or day. But the meme best known as “This Is Fine”—the one with the dog sipping from a mug as a fire rages around him—has lasted. It is now 10 years old, and it is somehow more relevant than ever. Memes are typically associated with creative adaptability, the image and text editable into nearly endless iterations. “This Is Fine,” though, is a work of near-endless interpretability: It says so much, so economically. That elasticity has contributed to its persistence. The flame-licked dog, that avatar of learned helplessness, speaks not only to individual people—but also, it turns out, to the country.
The meme comes from KC Green’s six-panel comic “On Fire.” In the first, the dog, wearing a small bowler hat, sits at a table, surrounded by flames. In the second, the dog smiles brightly and says, “This is fine.” In the third, as the flames get closer, the still-grinning hound takes a drink of what looks to be coffee and says, “I’m okay with the events that are unfolding currently.” In the fourth, he takes another swig. Here, the panels that have so far maintained a consistent color scheme—yellow, brown, orange—introduce a new color: red. As the dog drinks, his left leg catches fire. “That’s okay, things are going to be okay,” the dog says, his leg now stripped of flesh. The final panel brings the obvious conclusion: Things are not going to be okay. The dog, consumed by the fire, melts away.
The “every family for itself” approach to child care in the U.S. means parents’ options for three months of the year are shelling out for expensive camps, fighting for limited slots in affordable programs, or nothing.
New Year’s resolutions had barely been resolved before parents across the nation started thinking ahead to summer. The scramble to sign kids up for summer camp begins in January, because limited slots and huge demand have led to a highly competitive environment that verges on absurd. Case in point: Rachael Deane, a mother in Richmond, Virginia, has a summer-camp spreadsheet. She joked to me that it is “more sophisticated than a bill tracker” she uses to follow legislation in her work at a children’s-advocacy nonprofit; the spreadsheet is color-coded, and registration dates are cross-posted onto her work calendar so she can jump into action as soon as slots open.
Deane’s intense approach reflects the state of modern parenthood. The lack of universal child care is a pain point for parents throughout the year, but the summer is a unique headache. As with after-school care, parents have to navigate a confusing patchwork of options, but in the summer, they need a plan for all day, every day, for three months. And society leaves them largely on their own to figure it out: A 2019 survey from the Center for American Progress found that for three-quarters of parents, securing summer care was at least a little bit difficult. The system is essentially a competition that has winners and losers, and rests upon a willful ignorance of the reality of most American families—only one-fifth of all parents are stay-at-home. Change is long overdue.