Gloria Steinem, Women’s March Speech, 2017

Gloria Steinem

Journalist and Political Activist

In the collective understanding of the modern women’s movement in the United States, perhaps no figure looms larger than Gloria Steinem. In the 1960s, she penned several high-profile feature articles (including one in which she went undercover as a Playboy Bunny) examining the state of women in America, before co-founding Ms. magazine in 1971. That same year, she spoke to members of the National Women’s Political Caucus, which she helped launch, in an ‘Address to the Women of America’. ‘This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution,’ she said.

On 21 January 2017, at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., she drew on her long history of activism in a speech delivered to some 500,000 people, many of them wearing pink pussyhats. She gave credit to her co-chairs, including Dolores Huerta and LaDonna Harris (‘the Golden oldies, right?’), and praised the event, which took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration, as a ‘women-led, inclusive march’. ‘I’ve been thinking about the uses of a long life, and one of them is you remember when things were worse,’ she said, recalling the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Then she turned her attention to the future: ‘Trump and his handlers have found a fox for every chicken coop in Washington, and a Twitter finger must not become a trigger finger.’ At the inauguration, Trump ‘said he was with the people. Indeed, he was the people,’ she recalled. ‘To paraphrase a famous quote, I just have to say, “I have met the people, and you are not them.” We are the people.’

Women’s March Speech 2017

Just this march in Washington today required 1,000 more buses than the entire Inauguration. A thousand more buses. And I was just talking with people from our many sister marches, including the one in Berlin, and they asked me to send a special message: ‘We in Berlin know that walls don’t work.’

And remember Poland where last month the government passed an anti-abortion law and six million women turned out in the streets and they had to change it. We are the people. We have people power and we will use it. All the power that you tried to eliminate. For instance, you tried to eliminate the Congressional Ethics Committee. You had to reinstate it, right? Because of people power. Because this, this, is the other side of the downside. This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life. It is wide in age. It is deep in diversity. And remember the constitution does not begin with ‘I, the president’. It begins with ‘We, the people’.

So don’t try to divide us. Do not try to divide us. If you force Muslims to register, we will all register as Muslims. I know that there are women here from corporations and media and all kinds of places that make it kind of risky for you to say what you care about, what you feel, and what you support. And there are women here, I know, who have survived a national and global sex industry that profiteers from body invasion. We are united here for bodily integrity. If you cannot control your body from the skin in, you cannot control it from the skin out, you cannot control your lives, our lives. And that means that the right to decide whether and when to give birth without government interference.

We are here and around the world for a deep democracy that says we will not be quiet, we will not be controlled, we will work for a world in which all countries are connected. God may be in the details, but the goddess is in connections. We are at one with each other, we are looking at each other, not up. No more asking daddy.

We are linked. We are not ranked. And this is a day that will change us forever because we are together. Each of us individually and collectively will never be the same again. When we elect a possible president we too often go home. We’ve elected an impossible president, we’re never going home. We’re staying together. And we’re taking over.

We are the people. We have people power and we will use it.

Gloria Steinem