The March Toward Change

Photo by Ann Li

On Saturday, January 21st, 2017, women made history by making their voices heard. Over five million people participated in a women’s march worldwide, with one million men and women concentrated in Washington, D.C.

For one Penn State feminist, the experience was one that she will never forget. Junior Francesca Pagnotta, who majors in psychology with minors in women’s studies and human development and family studies, had the opportunity to march in D.C., revealing that it was surreal to be able to surround herself with like-minded men and women that were all there for the same cause. For her, the day proved that there is definitely strength in numbers.

Pagnotta felt the power and the emotion of the day. She witnessed proceedings like Ashley Judd’s slam poem where the actress took to the stage exclaiming, “I am a naaaaaaaaasty woman.”

Pagnotta says, “She spoke with such passion and being able to hear and see her perform while in the middle of hundreds of thousands was unreal.”

The Penn State student’s memorable encounters did not stop there. Janelle Monae made an appearance with Mothers of the Movement, an organization for the mothers who have lost their sons to gun violence or police brutality.

Pagnotta recounts the details saying, “[Monae] had the mothers chant their children’s names and we chanted back to them ‘Say his name.’ There were a couple of mothers there, but I specifically remember Trayvon Martin’s mother and when we chanted with her.”

Although the feedback from January 21st has been generally positive and uplifting, many people and news platforms have expressed apprehension towards the movement. To the women who condemned the march, Pagnotta offers a compassionate remark: “Don’t worry, I marched for you. We all marched for you whether or not you support us. Whether or not you voted for Trump, you are in danger of losing your rights as a woman. Whether or not you support us, we support you. And Donald Trump definitely does not support you.”

As for the men who criticized the historic day, she implores them to check their privilege.

Pagnotta, like other women who participated in the march, plans to stay active in its cause. She believes that spreading the importance of the midterm elections in two years is crucial. Volunteering with at-risk organizations during Trump’s presidency, such as Planned Parenthood, also holds a place on Pagnotta’s to-do list.

According to www.womensmarch.org the march forward has not ended. A new campaign is launching: 10 actions for the first 100 days, where every ten days action will be taken on an important issue. The first organized action consists of writing a postcard to your senator about a matter that you care about, including what you’re going to do to persist in the fight.