Local MNSU students participate in Women’s March protest

On Jan. 16, women all over the country joined in protest to protect their rights. Protesters marched in support of health care, education, and bringing an end to domestic violence, among many other reasons. Voicing their own strongly held beliefs, two Minnesota State University, Mankato students who had participated in one of the marches agreed to be interviewed by The Reporter.

Annie Krenik, a sophomore majoring in media and film studies, felt overwhelmed with surprise by the welcoming atmosphere of the march, especially toward diversity.

“When I first got there I almost started crying from the sheer number of people!” Krenik wrote in her email. “There were people there of all ages. I saw kids as young as a few months old to people that were in wheelchairs.”

Krenik noted that the Minnesota protest she demonstrated at was split evenly between men and women and included non-binary individuals as well.

“But that might have just been the area I was in,” Krenik added. “I do believe I saw more men of color there than white men, but that again might have been my position in the march.”

She also observed several groups at the event representing organizations like Black Lives Matter, as well as different LGBT groups from the Twin Cities and students from various colleges. She also added that President Trump’s climate change denial seemed to incite many protesters to march on behalf of teachers and others who work in education.

“I think protesting is incredibly important, especially for college students and other young people,” Krenik said in an email, explaining what she believed the protest accomplished. “Not only are we exercising our constitutional right to protest, we are standing up for our rights as well as the rights of the people who cannot stand up for themselves…”

Andrew Grabowska, a recent graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato, agreed that there were about as many men involved in the march as there were women, but said he thought more women were present.

“Also, in terms of atmosphere, people were very friendly and excited,” Grabowska said. “Everyone was looking around and laughing and praising each other’s signs.”

He said the signs displayed witty jokes at Trump’s expense mixed with demands for women’s equality and other statements outlining immigration policy, environmental protection, and LGBT rights, as well as rainbow flags and umbrellas representing the LGBT community.

One of the most prominent elements of the protest’s signage that Grabowska noticed was a large white dove carried by several marchers.

He also saw a Christian group carrying a banner. “[It] kinda surprised me because historically, Christian churches have been against LGBT and women’s rights, so I think that’s a good sign,” he added. “I saw no violence. The only person arrested was a Trump supporter who was pepper spraying the marchers.”

Emma Green, a writer from The Atlantic, encountered pro-life women at the Washington D.C. rally who hadn’t come to protest President Trump but were still attracted to the march’s message of women’s empowerment.

“The pro-life movement is changing,” Green observes in her online article. “Many young activists identify as feminists or atheists and reject a uniform alignment with the Republican party, unlike their Phyllis Schlaffy-style predecessors. Perhaps the Women’s March on Washington is a sign that feminism is changing, too, ever so slightly: a first gathering of a truly ‘intersectional’ movement which makes room for women with diverse convictions, including a moral opposition to abortion.”

Green added in the subsequent paragraph that other women attended the march for the sake of seeking peace through camaraderie.

Others have expressed confusion about the purpose of the Women’s Marches, wrote Vera Bergengruen, writer for the publisher The McClatchy Company, who claims that some of the perplexity was caused by women pro-lifers being turned away from the protest. Other women expressed that the protesters had misunderstood Trump.

“Look at his beautiful daughters. Look at the woman he put in charge of his campaign, a woman that has done an extraordinary job,” said Donna Lutz, a 71-year-old Florida woman, pointing out that women who had worked with Trump for years spoke at the Republican National Convention (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article127835724.html).

Lutz said that women have misunderstood Trump and have not given him enough of a chance by reading what he has said instead of what people have emphasized about his language.

Mirroring Lutz’s beliefs, Jacqueline Anderson from Saint Paul, another woman mentioned in Bergengruen’s article, said that women who are against Trump need to pinpoint what they’re angry about, because that’s all that they sound like—just angry and determined to reject the fact Trump is president.

However, both Krenik and Grabowska expressed their own reasons in no uncertain terms.

“Within the first three days of presidency, Trump has put a global gag order in place that limits women’s access to health care worldwide, removed LGBT rights, civil rights, and health care from the whitehouse.gov website, and froze the environmental protection agency until further notice,” Krenik stated in her email. “The changes that he’s making affect all of us, even if people refuse to believe so.”

“I was marching for human rights,” Grabowska said. “…Right now our government is not supporting [health care, immigration, or income equality]. Basically, they are, in my opinion, the face of evil. We’re in a really terrible place and so we are going out of our way to send a message to these people that this is not okay. We need a change. Listen to us.”

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