While Austin hosts a companion march for Texans

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by Mathew Shaw  |  Special contributor

On election night, Waxahachie resident Trisha Nemec watched the results with six other women on a Facebook group she had recently joined called Pantsuit Nation. As the results were coming in, Nemec and the other women posted their discontent throughout the night.

“We were like, ‘This ain’t happenin. This is just unbelievable,’” Nemec said. “It was a big wakeup call that we need to do something.”

And so Nemec agreed to be DFW captain for the Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington, a coalition of women and allies throughout the country to demonstrate their concerns with the upcoming Trump administration.

“The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us,” according to the event’s mission statement. “Immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, native people, black and brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault — that our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.”

The event will begin at 10 a.m. near the Capitol, though the exact location has yet to be confirmed. It is free and open to the public, Nemec said.

“The march itself is inclusive of everyone,” she said. “One of the things I like about it is, we’re asking anybody and everybody to come together. They’re asking everyone to march to say, ‘We’re watching you. We’re watching your administration, we’re watching your policies, and we will come together.’”

Arrangements for busing participants to and from the event are also being made, she said.

“We wanted to be able to transport as many people as we possibly could,” she said. “We wanted to help people who wanted to be there who couldn’t afford a plane ticket or overnight stay.”

As of Nov. 29, the group’s official Facebook page for Texas has 1,500 people saying they will attend.

One of those participants is Dallas resident Erin Turley.

“I’m going to the march primarily because I think if you say something is important to you, you should show up and demonstrate that with your actions rather than with your words,” Turley said. “And I think that it’s an important time to draw national attention to the fact that women’s rights are human rights and that’s been overlooked for too long.”

Turley said she hasn’t seen the progress she would like to see with women’s rights, and is now concerned with a backward movement.

“The way we continue to glorify and promote and elect people who have a very flippant attitude towards violence against women, that’s deeply concerning to me,” she said. “And I don’t want to look at the next generation and not be able to say that I tried to do something about that.”

Things like sexual harassment in the workplace, being hit on aggressively or assaulted by friends are issues she has faced, and are not uncommon among other women, she said.

And she hopes to learn some things from other participants as well, she said.

“As passionate as I am about these issues that we’ve been talking about, I’m very aware that, as a white cisgender female, I am experiencing all of these things from a place of real privilege,” she said. “I’m hoping that this will be a chance to learn from other women, rather than just focus on my own experience.”

She is also confident the event will have an impact on the nation.

“I don’t think it’s possible to do something at this scale without there being an impact,” she said. “At the very least, the impact will be [that] it will bring out conversations around the dinner table. The women of this country are not going to just sit back and accept whatever fate is just bestowed upon them. That we can be more active participants rather than just passive participants in our roles in this society.”

For people who can’t get to Washington, a companion march is planned for Austin the same day. Organizers said the event is still in the early planning stages, but will take place from noon until 6 p.m.

What isn’t determined is where the march will originate. During legislative sessions, marches often begin in a park across Lady Bird Lake along Riverside Drive, across the Congress Street Bridge and proceed up Congress Avenue to the Capitol.

On its Facebook page, organizers wrote they will march to the Capitol “to show our strength, power and courage in a peaceful march.”
Although it’s called the Women’s March everyone is welcome. “Daughters and granddaughters welcome as well as like-minded men, sons, grandsons. Invite your friends, family and co-workers. Spread the word! Let the world know we women stand with all women! No woman is free unless all women are free.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2016.