It’s been over 100 years since the start of the suffrage movement. It’s been almost 100 years since the creation of the Equal Rights Amendment. And women are still marching.
Women young and old, cis women and transgender women, women of all colors all gathered in community to protest the infringement upon their bodily autonomy on Saturday afternoon in Foley Square.
After various speakers and musicians, thousands joined in the Women’s March for reproductive rights; it started in front of City Hall, turning at Reade Street, and up Sixth Avenue to Washington Square Park. This was one of many marches held across the country on Oct. 2, signaling disdain for anti-abortion legislation — such as Texas’ Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), which bans abortions after six weeks — and a call for politicians to do more.
Cathy Rojas, socialist candidate for NYC mayor, spoke about how the elected officials in Texas aren’t doing right by their constituents.
“When politicians don’t represent the people of Texas, they don’t respect their rights and they don’t give a damn about their well-being,” Rojas said. “Right now, our people, working class in Texas, New York and around the country, are in a crisis. We are in the middle of a public health crisis and economic crisis, an educational crisis, a climate crisis — you name it — we’re in crisis.”
Carol Jenkins, president and CEO of the ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality and a co-chair of the march, was one of the final speakers before the march began.
“If you are looking for the root of sexism, misogyny, and racism, it lies in the Constitution,” said Jenkins. “It was written by a group of slaveholding white men ... forget about the enslaved, they didn’t want to put the women in the Constitution, and everything, everything that we have been doing since the writing of that Constitution has been to repair that omission.”
Reason to Stand Up
During the march, various call-and-answer chants, such as, “What do we want?” to which the crowd returned with, “Abortion rights” and “This is what democracy looks like” echoed through the line of people that snaked around Lower Manhattan. It ended at Washington Square Park’s arch at a golden hour as the light beamed through the tree line.
Some brought children, others brought dogs. Many carried signs and even if they didn’t, they held an internal message, a reason to stand up.
Alaina DiSalvia said she came from a very religious and homophobic Catholic school background and wanted to make a difference.
“I went to the dyke march back in June, and it was a wonderful experience in the same place, actually, Washington Square Park,” she said. “And I really wanted to come out to a similar, amazing community to advocate for women’s rights, because SB 8 in Texas is an absolute disgrace. And we need to protect abortion rights now because if we don’t, not only will abortion rights be taken away, but all of our other rights will follow.”
Tamara Tayer donned white pants she colored in red in between the legs to signify the bleeding of a back-alley-abortion. She’s been marching all her life, she said.
“In my lifetime, it’s just been the story of diminishing women’s rights more and more till we’re past the point of anything that’s acceptable or possible,” Tayer said. “It’s not only that they’re crazy anti-abortion laws and there’s this crazy bounty, but there are no more abortion providers in so many states in the US. And even in states where it’s legal very few doctors know how to do a second trimester abortion, which is crucial to women’s health.”
One woman queried about why she marched asked to remain anonymous but said, “I can pretty much tell you I’m here for women and their future.”
She continued: “Probably a lot of women here have gone through abortions, and we need to support them. You know, it’s not a choice one wants to make.”
“We need to protect abortion rights now because if we don’t, not only will abortion rights be taken away, but all of our other rights will follow.” Alaina DiSalvia