3 Marches & Protests On National Women's Equality Day 2018
Paradoxical as it may seem in this political climate, we are gearing up to celebrate Women's Equality Day on Sunday, August 26. If you feel as though the status of your equality is more theoretical than practical reality, then perhaps this year, consider marking Women's Equality Day 2018 with a protest or a march.
Because marching and protesting brought Women's Equality Day into existence to begin with. The occasion marks the anniversary of the 19th amendment's certification, or, the day women gained the right to vote — the culmination of many decades' worth of activism, according to The History Channel. Although certain groups advanced the suffrage cause in the early 19th century, it didn't hit the national stage until the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Organized by Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, the convention produced a Declaration of Independence-style Declaration of Sentiments outlining the movement's central idea: "That all men and women are created equal."
The end of the Civil War, however, tested organizers' commitment to that idea. Some — Stanton and Susan B. Anthony — felt that Black men should not get to vote before women did, and opposed the 15th amendment (which granted Black men suffrage) on those grounds. Others took a more holistic view of the situation and supported the 15th Amendment, and so the suffrage movement split into two camps: The National Woman Suffrage Association, headed by Stanton and Anthony, and the American Woman Suffrage Association, headed by abolitionists Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell.
The two eventually merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890, and the movement advanced to the picketing and protesting stage, women brandishing signs before the White House. In coordination with President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, women's suffrage advocates staged a mass march on the capitol — sound familiar? — and eventually, succeeded in swaying him to their cause. The House of Representatives approved the Susan Anthony Amendment in May of 1919, the Senate passed it on June 4, and the states ratified it in August.
On August 26, the 19th amendment became an official part of the U.S. Constitution, and here we are: Able to vote but still widely viewed as unequal by certain powerful men.
Women's Equality Day came into being thanks to concerted efforts by the women's liberation movement, which coordinated a 50,000-woman march down Fifth Avenue in New York City — a mass demand for equal pay, universal abortion access, and 24/7 childcare — on August 26, 1970, the 50-year anniversary of women's suffrage. New York Rep. Bella Abzug subsequently drafted legislation to make August 26 a memorial day to women's suffrage, and in 1971, her bill passed.
All of which is a reminder that, faced with a trash situation, our forbearers have typically chosen action over resigned submission, and sometimes it actually worked. So this Women's Equality Day, maybe take up that spirit and do some outdoor yelling, for posterity. Here are four protests, marches, and actions to help you do just that.
1. Unite for Justice
In protest of federal judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the vacant Supreme Court seat, a swing seat, Unite for Justice and a slew of other organizations have scheduled a national action in support of abortion, voting, LGBTQ, workers', and immigrants' rights. To join, check their website to find your nearest event.
The flagship event will take place in New York City, beginning at 12 p.m. EST in City Hall Park. Details will be released closer to the day, but plan for a rally. In Los Angeles, a March to the Midterm will convene at 10 a.m. PST outside City Hall. In Chicago, protesters should plan to gather outside Federal Plaza at 1 p.m. CST.
2. Indivisible Midterm March
Readers in the Los Angeles area might be interested in the Indivisible Midterm March, a commemorative event marking the 98th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and a pointed f-you to Trump. The march will take place outside City Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., kicking off with a rally and speakers.
3. GoTopless Day
One marker of lingering gender inequality is the fact that people with breasts cannot #FreeTheNipple without attracting the attention of Concerned Onlookers and even law enforcement as well, whereas men cruise around topless pretty much whenever and wherever they want. With that in mind, "It is only logical that GoTopless Day protests (or celebrations depending on the legal status of your city) would fall on Women's Equality Day since the right to go topless for women is based on gender equality as their right to vote once was," as the website puts it. And however you feel about that comparison, if you're looking to let your nips breathe, please see the site's Boob Map to find an event in your area.
Not every city will be so lucky as to have a GoTopless event, but readers in Madison, Wisconsin., Los Angeles, and Eugene, Oregon. can count themselves among the lucky masses that will be boobing out on Sunday.
If You Can't Make An Event
If you don't have time to attend an event this weekend, or if there isn't one planned for your area, you can always make a donation to a group that supports women's advancement and works for gender equality.
The People's Defense, in particular, is accepting donations to help fund Sunday's actions. Or, if you would like to contribute to change-making on Sunday and every other day, consider the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund to help combat gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
Does the Kavanaugh appointment have you feeling nervous about the status of abortion rights? Consider a donation to the Center for Reproductive Rights — a legal non-profit that defends, what else, reproductive rights at home and abroad — or the National Network of Abortion Funds, which helps people afford an expensive and difficult-to-access procedure. (And yes, there's always Planned Parenthood.)
Has the news from the U.S.-Mexico border left you feeling appalled? We have a long list of options for you, but the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is a helpful one right now. The ACLU, of course, has a number of cause-specific branches and can always use your support in this endlessly rotating carousel of legal battles.
Because yes, the situation overall — and every fresh hell the Trump administration devises — feels pretty bleak. But if the history of Women's Equality Day teaches us anything, it's that sometimes we can improve things if we take to the streets and yell. So why not join in? I'm guessing there are a few banner injustices that make you want to scream right now.