Print: Women’s March 2018

K. Rambo

Voices demanding change and equality echoed off of buildings surrounding the Capitol plaza in Des Moines on Saturday, as over 1,000 protesters gathered.

The event titled Des Moines Women’s March 2018 took place without issue — but with a caveat. There was no march.

Speakers said a permit for a march was not secured from the city. The protesters gathered and listened to music from Ruthless Ruth before two hours of speeches

Among the many present were Iowa State students who drove from Ames to participate.

“It’s a message of how we’re all united,” said Sara Gonzalez, freshman in pre-biological/pre-medical illustration. “We can all still get together and spread this joy and happiness.

Samantha Bias, freshman in design, made the trip with Gonzalez and several other Iowa State students.

“Our earth is something that needs to be protected,” Bias said. “Everyone deserves a right to live here freely and to express their opinions and voices.”

Much of the sentiment was directed at President Donald Trump, with many signs referring to his administration as sexist, racist, intolerant or stupid.

“I’ve seen smarter cabinets at IKEA,” one sign read.

Trump has faced backlash for comments and actions that many have deemed sexist or chauvinistic.

The pink pussyhats that have been worn during the Women’s Marches in 2017 and 2018 are a reference to Trump saying “grab them by the pus**,” while filming an Access Hollywood video. The idea first came from Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, founders of the “Pussyhat Project.”

Other than attempting to draw attention to how Trump spoke of touching women without their consent, the “sea of pink” concept was intended to show solidarity and provide a visual representation of a unified movement.

Trump garnered a reputation as a chauvinist through other phrases like “you know, it doesn’t really matter what [they] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass,” which he said to Esquire Magazine in 1991.

When speaking to New York Magazine in 1992 about how to treat women, Trump said “you have to treat ‘em like sh**.”

Trump has also described women as “pigs,” “disgusting” and “bimbo[s].” He has said multiple times he would date his daughter Ivanka, and has commented on her body and appearance.

“Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father…” Trump told Rolling Stone.

Trump, Mike Pence and others within his cabinet are vehemently opposed to abortion and have worked to limit access to birth control by rolling back the Affordable Care Act mandate for employer’s insurance plans to provide contraception.

The Trump administration also supports defunding Planned Parenthood.

According to Planned Parenthood, they provide services for over 2.5 million women and men nationwide. While Planned Parenthood provides abortion services and contraception, they also provide preventative medicine at an affordable rate.

Trump has suggested that Planned Parenthood uses federal funds to perform abortions, which is illegal and not the case.

Beyond criticism of Trump and his policies, speakers like Christine Nobiss, co-founder of Indigenous Iowa, addressed systemic inequality whcih protesters believe has existed long before the Trump administration.

Nobiss said she had to make a concerted effort to speak at the event, as before her, there were no speakers to represent indigenous communities. Nobiss specifically mentioned the Meskwaki Nation as being the only First Nation still in Iowa.

“We can’t forget all of the other nations that thrived in this area of the world before they were murdered or removed for the farmland,” Nobiss said.

Nobiss referred to Trump as a white-supremacist who is continuing a manifest destiny agenda. Trump has made repeated remarks about respected Andrew Jackson, who Nobiss referred to as “the Indian killer.”

Jackson was responsible for the Indian Removal Act which led to the Trail of Tears and the deaths of over 4,000 members of the Cherokee nation, according to the USDA. 

The Indian Removal Act also effected the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole and Creek nations. Nearly 100,000 indigenous people were forcibly removed from the Southeast United States for white settlement. Some estimates place the total death count near 25,000. 

West Des Moines City Council member Renee Hardman made a call to action. She told the crowd they can not “sit around and pop popcorn.”

“Mobilize, organize, and make a difference,” Hardman said.

Attendees spoke of the event not as a single occurrence, but part of a broader movement. Sierra Cross, sophomore in journalism, was among them.

“The fact that I am a survivor of sexual assault and… I just feel very passionate about the whole movement and I wanted to be in it and a part of it,” Cross said. “I hope that it shows that we’re not going to back down, like we’re gonna do this every year until we don’t need to anymore.”

Cross felt so strongly about being at the rally that when she found out it was happening, she immediately found a coworker to cover her shift so she would be able to attend.

Speakers included Chelsea Chism-Vargas, Dema Kazkaz, Robin White, Mazahir Salih, Representative Liz Bennett, former congressional candidate Kim Weaver and Cecilia Martinez.

The speakers were from diverse cultural, racial and religious backgrounds. A prayer was held during the rally.

As speakers noted, many men were in attendance.

Alex Frendt, freshman in chemical engineering, held a sign that said “Boys will be boys,” however, the second mention of boys was crossed out and replaced with “good people.”

The sign was a commentary on the acceptance of sexist and violent behavior out of young men and the tendency to write it off as a sign of age.

“I guess in the culture of society right now… we’re finding a lot of weird undercurrents of social practices and norms that everyone assumes ‘oh, this is just how it goes,’ but it’s really easy to change and it’s probably beneficial for everyone to change,” Frendt said.

A commonly stated belief from organizers and attendees was that they will return every year until equality is felt by all members of society regardless of age, sex, race, immigration status, gender or sexual identity.

The Women’s March is now annual.