The Women’s March: A year later in Washington Square Park

The Women’s March: A year later in Washington Square Park

Greta Niu (center) and Amy Hsi (right) were back for this year’s rally. Allison Parker (left) 1/21/17 From In Washington Square Park remembering the first March for Woman’s Lives, April 1989

On Saturday, as they had done last year, hundreds of people gathered in Washington Square Park in solidarity with hundreds of such Women’s Marches throughout the nation, including the largest on the mall in Washington D.C.  Sponsored by Indivisible Rochester and Gender Equity Movement of the College of Brockport, the rally was a platform for advancing gender equality as well as a range of progressive social causes.  The crowd was not as large as last year — many supporters were in Seneca Falls for its Woman’s March — but on a chilly winter morning the turnout showed the momentum from last year had not waned.


Washington Square Park, 1/20/18

Last year in In Washington Square Park remembering the first March for Woman’s Lives, April 1989 , I brought a photograph from the inaugural March for Women’s Lives.  Finding some people who were in D.C. thirty years ago,  we chronicled a trajectory of the women’s movement from second wave feminism to challenges faced by Millennials.

On Saturday, the theme was advances or setbacks since last year.  Of course, today we are one year into the Trump presidency which found few — if any — fans at the rally.  And, the year saw a heightened focus on sexual harassment and sexual entitlement in the workplace and beyond.

I spoke with two women, Kelly LaLonde and Judith Littlejohn who went to the march last year in Washington.

4. last year

Kelly LaLonde (left) and Judith Littlejohn

Both women agreed the media attention and increased public awareness about harassment and entitlement was actually making a difference. As Judith said, women who now speak out do not have to feel so alone. Instead, there are new forums for connections and support.  Kelly felt that the attention of high profile cases was important, but as important were the “systemic micro aggressions” too often felt by women.  The Me Too movement offers empowerment.

I also spoke with Kelly’s husband, Francis Zablocki.  Francis thinks men are afraid to discuss gender issues and afraid to criticize how other men chauvinistically characterize women.  A successful athlete through college, Francis has heard more than his share of male locker room banter that he describes as “alpha male boasting.”  Francis practiced what he called “passive resistance,” often separating himself from teammates.  Looking back, he wishes his resistance had been more active.  Today, Francis hopes now that these issues are on the public table, men will feel more comfortable talking and can see how they actually benefit from movements like Me Too.


Francis Zablocki

Back in town after graduating from college, Sarah Saresky was in New York during last year’s March. We talked about how Millenial women view sexual harassment. Sarah agreed with media reports about generational differences when it comes to tolerating inappropriate behavior. She says all the women in her circle are on board with the program; while women like her mother — who begged out of going to rally because of a cold — are more passive.


Sarah Saresky

Sarah also feels Millennial men lag behind in enlightenment.  She works as a waitress at a local restaurant and endures her full share of sexist, objectifying and boorish comments and behavior.  Alas, Sarah says the younger generation of males are no better than their clueless elders.

Greta Niu and Amy Hsi from Planned Parenthood were back for this year’s rally, remembering the photograph from last year.  Greta felt increased media awareness about sexual harassment was good, but worried that every few decades the issue comes to the fore — for example with Anita Hill — but systemic change is too often cosmetic and limited. Greta is not sure the current moment represents a tipping point, though you hopes so.  Amy agreed, adding that her focus has been on the local and grass roots day-to-day work of changing attitudes and behavior.


Greta Niu (left) and Amy Hsi

When I asked Greta how things were since last year, she simply said things were worse.  Because of Trumps’ election?  In a word, yes.7.

3. Moehle at event

Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle spoke last year and again this year. With Abraham Lincoln overlooking the activities, I hope the Great Emancipator was cheering the activities.


In Washington Square Park remembering the first March for Woman’s Lives, April 1989

Passing the torch at the Susan B. Anthony House

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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