RVA locals and activists explain why they’re headed to the Women’s March this weekend
The 2017 Presidential Inauguration is this happening Friday, Jan 20. Also happening in D.C. is the Women’s March on the following day.Though similar sister marches will take place in cities like Charlotte, NC., New York and around the world, Richmond is a D.C. neighbor and some locals plan to attend the event.
The Virginia League for Planned Parenthood (VLPP) has organized several buses that will transport a total of 150 supporters to the March from Hampton and Richmond.
“This event represents an historic opportunity for people to come together and celebrate the progress we’ve made in America on increasing equity and justice for all; we’re thrilled to be a part of it,” said Paulette McElwain, CEO of VLPP in an interview with GayRVA. “We also want to send a clear message to the incoming administration that millions of people across the country are prepared to fight back against attacks on reproductive health care, on abortion services and on access to Planned Parenthood health centers.”
The 100-year old organization provides numerous services beyond abortions, for which it is most famously or infamously known for. Their birth control, counseling and cancer screenings often get less of the spotlight. Beyond medical services the group also provides is information about sexual health and safety, something that is very important to rape survivors and supporters like Keisha Preston.
“We’re taught that ‘boys will be boys’ …so when they force themselves on us after we’ve said no, their behavior is normalized as typical male behavior. And when leaders of our country make comments about grabbing women by their genitals without consent and we brush it off as locker room talk, this cycle continues,” Preston said. “With so much harmful dialogue and rhetoric out there about sex, there needs to be more education about consent. Planned Parenthood is one of the few organizations that does its part to put that information out there.”
With a new Presidential Administration entering the White House tomorrow, many supporters of Planned Parenthood worry, as it could be one of the first casualties in the efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Francesca Lyn, a doctoral candidate at VCU who has taught a class called “Comics, Race and Gender,” and her dissertation centers on autobiographical comics written by women of color will be attending the event by a different means.
She plans to carpool with her boyfriend before meeting up with other friends in the area to participate in the march.
“I am most concerned with the fate of the Affordable Care Act. I depend on my health insurance for medications I take every day,” Lyn said. “My quality of life would be severely impacted if I could not afford to do so. I am worried about where the country is going as a whole. It frightens me that Planned Parenthood is threatened. I am worried for transgendered people. I am worried for our educational system.”
Though Lyn is eager to join the march, she is not without her concerns.
“I am still unsure what change this will have,” Lyn said. “I remain critical of mainstream white feminists. I am cautiously optimistic though.”
The march will also draw in a diverse crowd of public figures, according to its Artists Table. Many people involved in the arts have indicated their attendance, including transgender model Hari Nef, actors such as Lupita Nyong’o, Constance Wu, Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, Robert DiNero, and of course a lot of Orange is the New Black cast members, as well as musicians like Nadya from PUSSY RIOT and KT Tunstall. This is just to list a few.
In discussion of its mission, the Women’s March website reads:
In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.
Planned Parenthood’s busses are full, and travel conditions might be challenging, but there is a local event at Abner Clay Park in Jackson Ward – find out more here.
The color of my skin, my ability to “pass” as straight, afford me privileges that many of my LGBTQIA friends and family simply don’t have.January 24, 2017
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