This is Morgan, Amanda’s sister, guest posting on the blog.
My biggest regret going into this trip was missing the Women’s March in Washington. I was supposed to be there, with my friend Gina, but when the opportunity arose to come to New Zealand I couldn’t say no. Luckily, a sister march was happening in Auckland while we were there, so we were able to join in.
Due to the date line, Auckland’s march was the very first women’s march to take place. At 10:30am on January 21, we marched just a few hours after the inauguration in Washington.
Armed with pussyhats, and wearing a Ruth Bader Ginsberg shirt (just me, not Amanda and Shawn), we gathered with a crowd in front of the US consulate in Auckland. We weren’t sure what this would be like- not many people had rsvp’d on the Facebook invite. Would it be really small? Would people ignore this small group of people?
I was surprised, at first, by the number of people gathered. It’s easy to be caught up in the bubble of American troubles and forget about the rest of the world. This is, perhaps, one of the reasons Americans have a bad rap in international circles. The point, however, is that women’s issues span the globe. They may vary from place to place, but we are still struggling and we will keep fighting.
“Women’s rights are human rights” is my favorite slogan, because it is simple and it is true. This isn’t about America, though this march started there. It’s about Women. All women – not just white women, not just American women, not just the women who marched.
Apparently we didn’t have permits for marching in the street, but we took over Queen Street, a main drag, anyway. No police involved. We were calm and peaceful and organized and it was a bizarre and wonderful experience for me to realize there had been no officers present.
Signs everywhere, ranging from “No DAPL” to “I’m with Her” to “history has its eyes on you” (a Hamilton quote!), to a favorite, “I can’t believe I’m still marching for this”.
There was a fantastic drum group who lead the way. We poured into Myers park and, minutes later, I looked back and saw people were still coming in. This was bigger, much bigger, than I’d thought it would be. Later we saw an estimate of 2,500 people- nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands who marched in DC or LA or other major US cities. But small or large, it still meant something. It certainly meant something to me, far from home and happy to be amongst others who believed in the same things and wanted to be sure others knew it. And, in classic Morgan fashion, I cried with the overwhelming emotion of it all.
We found a nice shady spot behind the speakers to stay cool as we listened. Three women spoke, as well as an MC, and we knew that many of the issues we face are issues here too.
And then, suddenly, the emcee turned towards us and said “I want to highlight something some women have done. Would you two come up here?” I looked behind me, trying to see who she was talking to, but it was Amanda and me that she was referring to. So we went.
“Can you tell us what you’re wearing?” she asked us.
There’s only one thing she could be referring to. So I stepped up to the mic, touched my head, and told the crowd: “These are pussyhats.” And they cheered.
Amanda told them that we were sisters, and that I knew someone who helped start the pussyhat project. I told them that the project started by women who wanted to make an easy to recognize statement that they could wear while marching in Washington DC, that would also keep people warm. Obviously it has spread around the world.
A side note here: it has been so amazing to see something that someone I know helped create grow into a global movement. Pussyhats are everywhere. Krista, if you see this: what you and the others who started this project have done is incredible. Thank you for giving us something so simple and bright and strong that carries with it so much.
The emcee asked if we’d made the hats ourselves (no, a friend– thank you Emi!!) — I think we disappointed her a bit. But she remarked how she loved how women were getting crafty.
After the gathering finished, a woman asked to interview us for a story she was pitching to DemocracyNow. I don’t think the story was picked up, since we never heard from her. We told her about the pussyhat project and what we’d learned from participating in the march. We spoke to other women about their pussyhats- one woman, who had sewn a Star Wars rebellion symbol into hers, had sent many to Portland where a friend was passing them on to marchers.
In the end, I felt empowered. We made a statement. We showed up. And we will keep showing up. I’m done being passive. I have made more calls and written more letters in the last four months than in any of the years before. I’ve been an active voter for 12 years now, but that isn’t enough anymore.