When I walked into Scheuer room in the late afternoon of Jan. 20, the first thing I heard was Beyoncé. The second was laughter. The dark carpet and the large, circular tables were covered with signs, markers, paper, and people, with warm light illuminating the faces of women (and men) intent on being heard.
#SwatBeloved: Poster Making, Presence, & People was a place for students, faculty, and anyone else to make posters in anticipation for the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, or any of the other sister marches happening nationwide on that day, but it ended up being more than that. Through making the signs, people were able to articulate their feelings toward the incoming administration and the upcoming march, and to in effect, make tangible why they were marching.
I overheard a girl tell her friend that without the Affordable Care Act, her birth control would be $200 a pack. So while she was making a sign that read “Don’t Tread on Me” with the classic snake in the shape of a uterus, she was calling for Donald Trump to please, please leave her uterus alone.
Shayla Smith ’20, made a sign titled “LIFE IS NOT A WHITE PRIVILEGE,” with a black panther fist, hoping to address the importance of race.
“I think it’s important for people to know that everyone deserves to live, not just white people,” she said.
Rachel Hottle ’18 and Emma Haviland-Blunk ’18 were working on creating their signs together. Hottle, who spent this past semester studying abroad in Australia, held up her “pussy grabs back” sign and told me about the dissonance that came with being in a foreign country during Trump’s election.
“It was really kind of weird being in a country … where everyone was like ‘this is crazy, being so misogynistic, speaking about women like that,’ and then coming back and that being the reality,” Hottle said.
Haviland-Blunk wrote a Gloria Steinem quote on her sign: “The wellbeing of women determines the wellbeing of society.”
“I think [this] is kind-of fundamental, that women are such an important part, maybe even the backbone of society, and continually ignored,” Haviland-Blunk said. “Particularly in this new regime, or, you know, government, it’s just somehow missing the point.”
While some of the posters were large, elaborate, and visibly created by a skilled hand, many of them were not. Many of them were phrases that are not new to the eyes and ears of those of us living in these times: Black Lives Matter; Coercion is not consent; No human is illegal; Get your tiny hands off my rights; Silence = Death; Power to the pussy.
It was the solid, deep rhythm of a drumbeat. As I watched from the periphery of the room, I sensed fear, anger, anxiety, but also a determination to not succumb to resignation. “Lean on me” began to play on the speakers, and I knew that tomorrow we would march.