Defiance: Women (and Men) Rally for Rights

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 Pink Hats. Photo by Dana Stoddard

          I was sad feeling too frail to join the march Saturday. I can walk a half-mile or so. The cane I’ve been using is to help me keep my balance. I might have asked someone to push me in a wheelchair like Yoko. But I don’t have a wheelchair and my Personal Assistant had taken the 4:45 am bus to Washington D.C.

I feel I must say I’ve been pushing buttons for women’s rights since 1956 when I joined the men on the rewrite rim at the Detroit Free Press for the summer. They all smoked pipes. So I bought a miniature pipe and smoked it too. I didn’t have to break any ceilings at the New York Post in 1957. That was Dorothy Schiff’s Post and I was just the junior in a collection of gifted women writers. Fern Marja, Helen Dudar, Beverly Gary — they were the pioneers who preceded me.

Nasty Woman and her Dad. Photo by Dana Stoddard

In the winter of 1971, I sat in the cramped PushPin offices of New York magazine when Gloria Steinem and Betty Harris put together the first issue of Ms launched inside New York. I complained about the name Ms to Gloria. “Well, I suppose we could have called it Bimbo,” she responded.


Many staffers and NYM writers worked on the issue taking shape: Bina Bernard. Joanne Edgar, Nina Finkelstein, Deborah Harkins, Janet Lynch, Nancy Newhouse, Mart Peacock, Letty Pogrebin, Joey Townsend and Rochelle Udell.

Yoko Ono. Photo by Ken Kinter

I signed the Abortion statement that appeared in that issue. “You don’t need to have had an abortion to sign this statement,” Gloria told me. I wondered at the time how many of those women had actually had an illegal abortion. My mother loaned me the money to get mine and recommended the doctor she had used.

Los Angeles photo copyright Julia Dean, Los Angeles Center of Photography

I married Don Forst and kept my name. He kept his, too. I threw a male reporter from CBS out of a phone booth when we were both trying to call in a story from the train  carrying Elvis Presley to his Army Base. Am I getting carried away?

I’ll confess I missed the first Women’s March down Fifth Avenue and I didn’t burn my bra. So, I’ve never been a paragon of Defiance. I am so proud of my gender and their admirers who marched across the country. That’s why this week’s BITE is dedicated to their photographs.

Poster by Kalinelvanov

          On Fifth Avenue, Madison and Park, the streets soon became so crowded, the clot scarcely moved in  the tumult of shouts and cheers. Some of these photos capture the surge at Grand Central, the density on 47th, the street dance of handmade signs and pink hats with pussycat ears memorializing the offensive boast of our new president in the pussy grab we can never forget.

New York City. Photo by Garry Velletri

          There was no March in Chicago, the Chicago Tribute reported, because there were too many people  to march. Organizers had estimated the night before that upwards of 50,000 would gather, but as the rally began, the crowd seemed closer to 250,000.

          They filled the spaces around Grant Park for the rally, as well as the march route down Jackson Boulevard and its side streets, singing, chanting and holding signs. Women, men and children from Northwest Indiana joined thousands of people — five times the number expected.

Human Rights are non-negotiable. Photo by Dana Stoddard

Watching the March from behind bars on 47th Street. Photo by Dana Stoddard

Grand Central bridge photo by Beth Shapiro

“Diversity Make America Great,” Photo by Dolores Nolan


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2 Responses

  1. Thank you for this. I love the photos and story! There were lots of men in the crowds supporting the women in their lives.

  2. Loved the photos and your memories. Thank you for sharing! Saturday was my first-ever march (and I am not young). Today I mailed off my first-ever letter to a congressman. It’s a good time for all good women (and men) to come to the service of their country!

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