With no Women’s March in Binghamton, students gathered in cities across New York state to advocate for women’s rights on Saturday.
The march commemorates the worldwide protest on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after U.S. President Donald Trump was inaugurated, and aims to rally for legislation regarding women’s rights and equality. While thousands of people marched down the streets of Downtown Binghamton for policy change at last year’s march, local organizations did not organize a march this year.
Shanel Boyce, community organizer of the Southern Tier Chapter of Citizen Action and the primary organizer of last year’s Women’s March in Binghamton, wrote in a message to Pipe Dream that the Women’s March had “served its purpose here in Binghamton.” She declined to comment further on why a march would not be held in Binghamton this year.
Last year’s Women’s March in Binghamton saw controversy after Citizen Action posted a message on Facebook asking attendees to “refrain from engaging or fraternizing with state and local law enforcement stationed at the event” and “not bring or wear ‘pussy hats’ or any other genital-themed accessories.” In the message, which was shared more than 40 times and garnered more than 50 comments, the group cited support for communities of color and LGBTQ communities as reasons for their requests.
Nevertheless, some marchers were upset with the message, arguing the guidelines were divisive and undermined the purpose of the march. Some pledged not to attend.
The Women’s March has also seen disagreements on the national level regarding the inclusion of transgender women, women of color and women who hold pro-life stances on abortion. In the day leading up to this year’s march, conflicts surfaced within the national organization over anti-Semitism, according to The New York Times, resulting in the cancellation of at least one march in California.
Allison Romer, a senior double-majoring in political science and environmental policy who attended last year’s Women’s March in Seneca Falls, wrote in an email that national rifts during the planning of the march concerned her.
“I don’t ignore the importance or impact of marches [or] other mass demonstrations for many issues, but concerns regarding the intersectionality of this movement are perfectly valid and must be addressed if we are to call ourselves feminists,” Romer said.
But despite the controversies and the lack of a march in Binghamton, some students participated in this year’s marches. Sarah Wicks, a sophomore majoring in economics, attended the Women’s March in Seneca Falls and said she found the atmosphere inspiring.
“Even though the winter storm tried to stop us, it was so encouraging to see so many different people of different backgrounds gather together for the purpose of equality of all, especially an elderly woman pushing her walker through the snow,” Wicks said. “It really inspired me to see everyone uplifting each other and I only heard encouraging words through the whole march.”
Cristal Finkenberg, a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, said she was proud to join the marchers in New York City.
“Rain, shine or blizzard, there were still tons of people packed in the streets of the city advocating for policy change,” Finkenberg wrote in an email.