Written by David Hall
The night before Saturday’s Roanoke’s Women’s March, Freshmen Ava McCartin and her roommate Zoe Manoukian were fraught over what kind of sign they’d bring to the rally when they remembered.
“So [Manoukian] had stolen this ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag from a frat at OSU and this cat crocheted to our door,” said McCartin. “And so, naturally, we took it off and, with some rainbow duct tape, we put it on the flag. And we got really excited making this stupid sign. It ended up saying ‘Don’t Tread on my Pussy.”
When the day came, they were running late. So when they saw people in the street while on their way, the pair, accompanied by some friends, abandoned their cab right there to join their fellow marchers. Both Manoukian and McCartin expressed pleasant surprise at the turnout, which is estimated near 4,000 as reported by the Roanoke Times.
Unfortunately, they were too late to hear the speakers, a diverse collection women that featured Danielle Belton. Belton is the Editor-in-Chief of The Root, an online magazine focused on issues in the Black community. Youth activist Tallulah Costa and leaders from Republican Women for Progress joined Belton as speakers for the event. Freshman Gabby Moghtadaie was there for the speakers.
“They all had something different to say and they all we were really interesting. They all touched on different things so it was really interesting to hear about them and their experience,” said Moghtadaie.
A year has passed since the first women’s march which garnered 1-4 million people in protests across the country and although, attendance was lower this year, it seems the women’s movement has no intention of slowing down. According to Emily’s List, an NGO focused on running women for office has said they’ve been contacted by over 22,000 women interested in seeking candidacy, an all-time high.
Also worth mentioning is the #metoo phenomenon, a movement that has moved with avalanche speed. For the first time victims of sexual assault and harassment are being recognized and listened to more than ever. But for those as determined as McCartin and Manoukian, there’s still a lot of work to do. Although impressed with the crowd size, both expressed at least some disappointment about the lack of enthusiasm at the march.
“People were very quiet,” said Manoukian. “I’m from Columbus, Ohio and I have a lot of family in DC so last year especially when we would participate in these protests people were very noisy. Everyone was shouting and chanting and calling to attention to the group…[here] a lot of people here were silently walking along.”
Depending on perspective, the march can be seen as an act of resistance against the Trump administration or as an act of support of women’s issues generally.
“Even though I don’t think it’s important which side of the political spectrum you are, I think it’s important for to go and fight for what you’re passionate about,” said Moghtadaie. “And I think that’s less of a party issue, it’s more of a person issue.”