On Saturday, the streets of America swarmed with parades of women in pink hats, chanting in protest of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. People of all genders rallied together in their local marches, as part of the international Women’s March on Washington movement.
Several passionate Corona del Mar students participated in the local Laguna Beach and Santa Ana Women’s Marches to promote acceptance and equality across the nation and in their own community.
Senior Henry Bagdasar marched alongside his classmates in the Laguna Beach Women’s March to demonstrate his support for his mother and sister. Bagdasar, a self-identifying feminist, hopes that the collective efforts of the Women’s March on Washington will urge more men to speak out against gender discrimination.
“It’s important for men to be feminists because it shows that just because it’s for women’s equality, it doesn’t mean that men can’t be involved,” Bagdasar said. “It’s about time we even out the playing field.”
The march was an opportunity for students to participate in true political activism. Freshman Maya Galante attended the Santa Ana Women’s March to stand with millions of American women, men, and children as they made their voices heard.
“I felt like I was really putting myself and my opinions out there for the world to see and take in,” Galante said. “The experience was breath-taking because as a person on the opposing side of a community where the majority supports the new administration, it was amazing to see everyone that was on my side, believing what I believed in too.”
The Women’s March on Washington united people from all walks of life, in support of the feminist movement, leading junior Sydney Custer to ponder her personal definition of feminism.
“I like to think of feminism as a synonym for humanism,” Custer said. “Intersectionality is feminism. We are all feminists because we speak for our rights and voice our opinions. Every feminist is unique, but every feminist supports others’ uniqueness.”
Senior Julia David, who marched in the Laguna Beach Women’s March, became an outspoken feminist after she enrolled in a Sociology class at school.
“It was in my Sociology class that I started learning about the way our society and others really work,” David said. “I realized that the world needs feminism so that opportunities are given solely on the basis of character and merit and so every person is treated with the same respect.”
After reading the platform for the Women’s March on Washington, David spread the word about the event and gathered a group of students to march together. It was important to her as a young woman to define her own role in modern American society as an advocate for social change and pave the way for other women to decide their own futures.
“I think a woman’s role in American society today should be whatever feels right for her,” David said. “Being a woman can mean many different things, and I think that is a part of what feminism stands for. There isn’t one certain way a woman should be or can be.”
Through the marches, women across the country took it upon themselves to fight for equality for not only themselves, but all groups who are threatened by the election of President Trump.
“I went to the Women’s March because I liked how their values and principles included all different groups of people and issues, not just equality for women,” David said. “I think it’s really important for people to advocate for groups they may not appear to represent, so we can all support each other, which is something I’d really like to see happen more at our school.”
Corona del Mar High School is a politically educated campus in a conservative pocket of California, and oftentimes, party affiliation pins classmates against one another. Throughout the election season, words turned to weapons and free speech became a tool used to shame others into silencing their political beliefs.
The student body remains riddled with open wounds, but in the aftermath of the Women’s March on Washington, some open-minded students are ready to reverse the culture of political intolerance.
“I think the best thing we can do is to remove the stigma that comes with opposing beliefs at CdM,” Bagdasar said. “Too many people are afraid to say what they think on both sides of every argument, and I think that the only way to make CdM better would be to provide a voice for everyone, regardless of the repercussions.”
Senior Nathan Fallahi, who accompanied Bagdasar to the Laguna Beach Women’s March, believes empathy and compassion are crucial to bridging the social divide that was sparked by the election.
“While movements like the one represented at the rally I attended are powerful, I find genuine supportive interactions between people to be the most impactful,” Fallahi said. “Students on our campus should collectively strive to be better people and be supportive of everyone, especially minorities and those who are disadvantaged. It is only with the willingness to listen and support one another without judgement that change can be possible.”