The Return of Ladies’s March Los Angeles
“Hear Our Voice” becomes “Hear Our Vote” as the 2018 organizers demand commitment
By Christina Campodonico
The rise of a pussy grabber to the presidency, the overthrow of a Hollywood titan amid a spate of sexual abuse allegations and cultural changes in the way we talk about gender inequality – first #MeToo, then #TimesUp probably a modern day started women’s movement.
You could say it all started last year when millions took to the streets in cities around the world for a coordinated international women’s march the day after President Trump took office. Hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters gathered in downtown Los Angeles. Many wore cat hats called pussyhats and wore all kinds of signs denouncing Trump or advocating for the rights of women and minorities.
“I’m here to support women,” Sarah DeAratanha, then 26, from Mar Vista told The Argonaut last year. “I’m here to support Muslim women and Jewish women as well as gays and bi people and everyone on the LGBTQ plus spectrum. I just feel like my generation needs to take a step forward these days and fight what is going on in the world. “
Several local groups will cover similar topics as the second Los Angeles Women’s March, taking place in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, January 20.
Venice Resistance, a grassroots activism organization founded by Venice-based Maria Casey after the first women’s march, campaigned ahead of this year’s demonstration to spread the word and encourage Westsiders to participate.
“It’s getting really cathartic. Everyone around the world had a rough year in 2017. Now we’re getting our energy back, ”says Casey. “I hope we get a good turnout, especially from the west side.”
Venice Resistance is hosting the night before the march from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in a loft at 555 Rose Ave. # 2 has a sign party and will be gathering at the Downtown Santa Monica light rail station on Saturday at 8 a.m. to ride the Expo Line’s march. (See veniceresistance.org/events.)
West LA Democratic Club and Westchester-Playa Democratic Club are partnering with LA City Council office Mike Bonin to charter two free shuttles downtown. Both depart at 7:30 am, one from the West LA District Field Office (1645 Corinth Ave.) and the other from the Westchester District Field Office (7166 W. Manchester Ave.). Register online at bit.ly/2B398un.
“Our members really want to be in the community as Democrats,” said Karen Wolfe, communications chairwoman for the West LA Democratic Club. “They are looking for an opportunity to express their political views in order to oppose the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress and they want to be together.” She adds that on the march the club will join US Senator Kamala Harris and her Progressive Unity Coalition.
The president of the Westchester-Playa Democratic Club, Duane Muller, notes that her club is also helping members organize car pooling and a workshop on voter retention with the Progressive Coalition Code on Thursday evening (January 18) in a private home in Playa del Rey Blue for public relations. RSVP at bit.ly/2mHlZxP.
“I think people are supplied with energy more than ever,” says Müller. “They are really looking for grassroots organizations [like ours] to get engaged more. “
Similarly, the organizers of the Los Angeles Women’s March hope that this year’s event will help connect attendees with community organizations, focus on local issues, and win the vote for this year’s election.
“Our intent is to get people to mid-term elections – almost to keep the vote cool,” said Emiliana Guereca, co-managing director of Women’s March Los Angeles, a West LA-based event planner. “We encourage local activism.”
The Argonaut sat down with Guereca, co-managing director Deena Katz (a television producer whose works include “Dancing with the Stars” and “Real Time with Bill Maher”) and communications director Ellen Crafts to discuss the mission of the meeting on Saturday to discuss 2017 and look to the future of local activism.
A lot has happened since March last year – Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo, #TimesUp. Do you think the Women’s March helped set these events in motion?
Cat: I think any kind of empowerment leads to more empowerment.
Katz: I have the feeling that we gave people a voice that they were afraid of. Everyone felt empowered to do something, and more than that, they felt they had to do something. So yeah, I feel like we started on this. We were the beginning of it. In that way, 2017 was a great year.
What’s different this year in terms of your intentions for the march?
Cat: I think the difference in ’17 was that because of the shock – the fear – people were emotionally involved. … Everyone felt they had to be together to heal and to know how to move forward together. What 2018 gives us is that we can do something now. We can get people to vote. Because if we have more voice in Washington, we can change or protect our rights.
Guereca: I think people learned what happens when you are not involved.
Handicrafts: Our rally cry in 2017 was “Hear our voice” and our rally cry in 2018 is “Hear our voice”. We think these two together are a powerful one-two punch to activate people. It will be a year of activism to encourage people to get involved and draw attention to important elections in our city and in our state. California is expected to play a big role in 2018. And we’re working with the Women’s Marches across California to work together to activate people and understand what’s going on and what it’s about.
The pink pussyhat became the symbol of last year’s march. Thoughts?
Guereca: I don’t own a pussyhat, but I’m not going to stop anyone from wearing one. Almost every movement has a symbol. We got a lot of pushback from “not all pussies are pink!” [We told people], “Make a brown hat. Make a rainbow hat. “
Handicrafts: The pink should be symbolic [of women.] It was female and female. We have a contribution from men who wanted to wear pink hats. And then we asked some people, “Should we change our hats to black this year because of the #MeToo or #TimesUp movement?” It will be interesting to see how activism shows up this year and what that means for people.
Are you worried that #MeToo or #TimesUp will overshadow your voting message?
Guereca: Sexual assault is not new. It is to be expressed in a #MeToo campaign. … We cannot be afraid that more women will have votes. We want that.
Handicrafts: I think the fact that #MeToo and #TimesUp are so much in the news is great and again part of that collective voice that we tried to get out of there. We speak to all of our speakers about how great if this is your platform or your advocacy passion! Let us then talk about why it is important to include this in the vote, and what it means for the members of the government and what they need to do. The same is true of immigrant rights or all the other problems there are. Drag it into what that means when you go to the polls.
Will it hurt if this year’s march doesn’t attract as many people as it did last year?
Cat: Success is someone coming out. Success brings the word out. I think what will happen more this year than last year is that there will be more localized marches where everyone came to Los Angeles last year. … Now you have San Bernardino, other local cities that do that. And for us it wasn’t a numbers game last year either.
Guereca: We encourage local activism. We encourage San Bernardino, Bakersfield, Riverside, Fresno because there are problems in their community that LA cannot solve. On the same day, there are 22 marches in California dealing with issues that affect one another.
Handicrafts: And another part is that a year later, the women’s march is still not a truly formalized organization in the whole country. We are all independent. The marches in the different cities have grown because we are concerned with what is happening in our own regions under these guiding principles about what the women’s march is about. We collect donations, activate and get involved in our own communities.
Not worried that the emphasis on voting will convince people that you will join the Democratic Party?
Guereca: I think people will think what they want to think, and I also think that women’s rights and human rights shouldn’t be partisan.
Handicrafts: We don’t support candidates so we’re going to post this because that’s not our point. There are many people on all sides who support many of the things that our Unity Principles stand for. … Is that currently leaning in a certain way? Yes, but that’s ultimately not what we want to go. Because I also think that means the news will be lost.
You said last year that the march is not specifically against Trump, but that is why many participants say they are marching.
Cat: We have always said that it is about human rights. It’s about women’s rights, religious rights, educational rights and LGBTQ rights. … This really shows everyone the power you have. Don’t be a victim. Everyone has the right to vote and everyone should vote.
Guereca: This is not anti-Trump; That is pro-voting. This is to activate people. If this administration were for everything we all stand for, we would have no problems.
Let us assume that the balance of power in Washington shifts dramatically. What is the future of the women’s march?
Cat: Until everything is resolved and not everyone in this country feels excluded, until everyone feels equal – we are waiting for this day – and we will close our doors and be done.
Handicrafts: I think that there will always be a need for a company like Frauenmarsch because if we have learned something in recent years, we are not as far as some people thought. We need to talk better to each other and make sure that people understand all marginalized communities and what they are experiencing because I don’t think our country did a really good job.
Guereca: It’s about continuing the work. It’s about education. … It’s not necessarily just about marching every year. It’s about engaging this voter and engaging this voter all his life.
The Los Angeles Women’s March begins Saturday (January 20) at 8:30 am at Pershing Square, 532 Olive St., Los Angeles. Visit womensmarchla.org for a route map and frequently asked questions about events.