"I marched against Donald Trump in Washington, and it felt like magic."

Ahead of me in the crowd was a man with a sign that read: “Even Slytherin thinks Donald Trump is too evil”, and as we walked, sometimes chanting, sometimes not, up 14th Street, a mother pointed it out to her child.

“Look at that one,” she prompted him.

“Oh Mummy, it’s true!” the little boy replied. I looked down at him and saw he was wearing a Potter-esque ensemble. He began to shout at the top of his lungs, “Donald Trump is too evil for Slytherin.” Then, after a time, he began to laugh, giddy at the notion of someone that evil.

It made me think about the first rally I remember attending, on a hot Brisbane day with my mother when I guess I was probably about four. It was a women’s march too. I can’t remember anything more than that, or that I loved the camaraderie, and the chanting.

Protests can be magic, when they’re done right and the Women’s March on Washington was no exception.

By the time I reached Union Station earlier in the day, I knew the crowd was going to meet, if not surpass, every expectation. The metro was packed. So packed, the train didn’t stop at the recommended station to get to the march.

It was still early when I headed over, but the National Mall was full, and the stage where Scarlett Johansson, Madonna, America Ferrara, Ashleigh Judd, Gloria Steinem and many more spoke, was completely unreachable.

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I tried to reach it anyway.

As I weaved through throngs of women, and men, I took delight in the clever, whimsical, yet serious, signs that surrounded me. People wanted to have a good time, but they were serious about their concerns.


I heard women talking about how scared Trump made them feel, how frustrated they were, how angry. But the anger gave way to a sense of euphoria, as is often the case at a protest. A lot of the women I spoke to had travelled a long way, on buses, trains, planes, to get to Washington. Just being present was so important. To be visible, to be heard.

“I think it’s important to say we don’t support Donald Trump,” one told me, wearing one of the hundreds of thousands of pink, cat-eared beanies dotting the heads of protesters.

As I moved closer to the stage, the crowd was so large, so eager to hear, that there was nowhere to go, and nothing to do but chant.

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“Tell me what democracy looks like,” yelled the man standing beside me.

“This is what democracy looks like,” his friends responded, sparking the call-back to spread further, reverberating through the crowd, spreading in waves, back towards the mall, towards the National Museum of American Indians, towards the stage where Gloria Steinem is speaking.

As we stood, patiently waiting for something to happen beyond spontaneous outbursts and shuffling sideways, we were isolated somewhat from the world outside of the protest.

The crowds were so large, there was no mobile phone service. There was no way to broadcast our participation, or check what others were broadcasting. There was nothing to do but participate.

Raise our voices as women, afraid of this new America, concerned at the threat to our freedoms, bodily or otherwise. Raise our voices alongside people from diverse communities, with different, but equally valid concerns, who all gathered together to voice opposition without violence, but with serious intent.

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“Good did not win this election but good will win in the end,” Madonna told the crowd in a largely controversial speech.

While their causes might not all match, every protester who turned up simply wanted to be taken seriously. For their voice to be heard.

In Washington, the estimate is that there were at least 500,000 voices, raised as one, against Donald Trump.

At first, I was hesitant about attending the march. I wasn’t sure it was for me, an Australian. But the truth of a Trump presidency is it effects the whole world. It certainly effects people living in the United States, like me, but it also effects relationships between nations worldwide. It effects foreign aid, and foreign policy, trade and immigration. There is little in this world that the President of the United States cannot affect.

And so, I chose to take the bus to Washington, to join the throngs of people raising their voices in concern, whatever their cause. And standing with me were women, and men, from across America who wanted their president to know they weren’t going to be silent.

In an interview with CNN, backstage at the march, Gloria Steinem said it was the beginning of a broader movement, a way to meet other women, other people, and fight together for the America, the world, you want to see.

“There is no place on earth that I would rather be than here,” she said.

Me either, Gloria. This is, after all, what democracy looks like.

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