By: Cheyenne Petitpas

One of the biggest freedoms we experience as American citizens is the right to assembly and free speech. Throughout history, it has been proven that using these rights to speak out about issues has been tremendously effective. Exercising these rights usually happens in the form of a march for a certain cause. This past month, it was for women’s rights.

In mid-January, there were numerous women’s marches across the country – New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, Washington D.C. and even one in Akron. Every state in the U.S. hosted a march with the exceptions of Arkansas and Louisiana. Even though the marches weren’t as big this year as they have been the past two years, they still ranked as number seven of the top ten protests since Trump was elected into office. With 319 marches, and roughly 700,000 participants, the voices of these women were definitely heard. Especially with all the recent legislative propositions to give congress control over a woman’s body in terms of being able to tell her what she can or can’t do with it, these marches were well timed. The marches were held as a tribute to the #MeToo movement that is far from dead, as well as in celebration of the 2018 midterm elections, where a record number of women were elected into government offices. This may seem like a small feat, but its progress in the right direction of empowering women and uplifting them to the same status as men, especially in government.

However, the marches weren’t entirely positive. The attendance declined majorly, and some marches were even canceled, because of the arctic-like weather. Subzero temps, high winds, no sun, and heavy snow all led to people choosing to stay inside rather than go march in the yucky weather. Another big problem with this year’s marches were the allegations of anti-Semitism and racial tension between the protest groups. While the allegations were denounced, many people protested the protests due to the allegations of the march organizers and leaders making anti-Semitic remarks or holding anti-Semitic views. A few marches in New Jersey had some tensions arise between the women’s march and the Black Lives Matter protests. These incidents all played a factor in this year’s marches being significantly less, as far as population, than past marches. Nevertheless, these marches still gave women the opportunity for their voices to be heard and for them to exercise their right to protest.