Over three million women took to the streets over the weekend to participate in women’s marches held across the country. The events were held in big cities and small towns in all fifty states (and in many other countries), and I spent my day bouncing between the packed marches in San Francisco and Oakland.
I wanted to be a low-key observer, and so my main superpower — looking like an inoffensive-looking young white woman who is in a perpetual state of looking like she’s trying to find her professional harpist boyfriend — was particularly useful. Instead of asking the standard questions, I did some good old-fashioned eavesdropping to hear what was on the minds of women in what is possibly the most liberal area of the entire country. Here were my favorite anecdotes:
“My mom has always been a Republican. Like, a hard Republican. She’s a nurse, and when she retired, I think the recession is what made them that way. My dad owned a small business and felt like he’d been lied to when he lost his business. I was in college and it really impacted me. That’s what woke me up to real life. It’s not getting better, and so, it’s like, you show up. I graduated from college in 2009 and almost dropped out to help my parents, but they refused to let me. But I couldn’t get work, no one could then. I don’t understand why my parents aren’t more political, they’re so optimistic. My dad keeps saying, ‘Well, hope for the best.’ But I’m not gonna do that, they took everything from me; why would I think the best was gonna happen?” — Young Latina woman in a “The Future is Female” shirt
“He’s not the candidate that you wanted, but now that he is, we have to fight. Every country I’ve ever been to, they think the U.S. is crazy. We don’t take care of our citizens. It’s not a priority for us.” — Black female grant writer, forties
“They’ve got the Oakland police waiting for all of us if we get rowdy. And I don’t want to scare them, but you know, let’s scare them a little. No more than Dr. King would. Okay, lift up your sign.” — Black male in his forties speaking to his three children
“I came here to say Trump sucks, and now I’m like wanting to kidnap all these adorable children with signs.” — Female teenager speaking to friend
“There’s too many people here. There’s so many people here we can’t move. That’s ironic, huh? A bunch of pissed off people coming together, and we still can’t move. Anyways, where the fuck is Andrea? I have to pee.” — Woman speaking to partner, thirties
“I hate crowds, but maybe this will be the first thing my daughter remembers; that’s enough to take a Xanax and leave the house for.” — Mother speaking to another mother, forties
“Let’s just fire him. I fired someone from Payless shoes last week. — Woman in sixties waiting in an egregiously long bathroom line
Kid: “Are we American?” Mom: “Yeah, we are!” Kid: “Isn’t that bad?” Mom: “It’s not bad; that’s why we’re all hanging out here together.”
“Revolutions don’t have enough bathrooms.” — Teenager with crossed legs in line for the port-a-potties
“I hate white men just as much as the next person, but my feet are tired.” — Woman speaking to partner, seventies
“People hate government and don’t want government because it’s failed us in the past, but that doesn’t mean we should have less government. We need better government.” — Man speaking to partner, twenties
“Which way are we walking? My friend said to follow the vagina sign. That could be any of them. That’s why I’ve been standing here for an hour.” — A very confused mom
“It’s funny because usually people hate my bongo playing.” — Man playing the Bongo
The next big planned protest, on Tax Day, is sure to bring some more interesting quotes — with four months of Trump administration decisions to inspire even more colorful words.