On March 8, American women were called upon to withhold their paid and unpaid labor in honor of International Women's Day. In New York, thousands rallied in multiple locations to protest myriad injustices, from the basic tenants of capitalism to the anti-immigrant policies of Donald Trump. Throughout the day, we asked those women—and one man who was inexplicably around—what they were striking for. Full names, ages, and locations are listed as provided.
We all have solid, structural reasons to be striking today. The main idea is to start building a feminism for the 99%. I am also striking against femicide. As a Brazilian, Brazil has the higest rate of femicide. It is the country that kills the most trans and non-binary people. So this is why I decided to strike.
How do you see students acting in solidarity beyond today?
I think the university works well as a community base. Students are in an interesting position. Obviously we have our own issues—crippling debt, there's the exploitation of graduate students whose labor really allows the university to function. But at the same time it's a position of privilege.
What do you do for a living?
I was a freelance photographer. Some of this, street photography, portraits. I was here for the anti-war marches, but I was a teenager then. I go to a lot of protests: against the Iraq War, racism.
Wow, so what do you think is next for this particular movement?
I don't know, I hope people keep it up. But let me tell you, when we protested for George Bush, he stayed in office eight years. I hope that doesn't happen. Right now, the way they treat women, they're such misogynists. Hateful white men, I'm telling you, I can't stand them.
Where are you coming from?
I've lived in New York all my life, I was born in Brooklyn. I live in Midwood, You know, that's where Abner Louima was beaten up and sodomized.
This is the first time I ever made a sign!
It's nice. Is this your first protest?
No! We try to go to one every week. We're retired now.
What are some of the recent protests you've been to?
Sunday it was Standing Rock. [To her wife] Honey, what was the other one we went to on Saturday? There was Not My President, Planned Parenthood. Oh—and every day we make calls to our representatives in Minnesota.
Wow, you're keeping busy.
You have to!
Are you new to the Democratic Socialists?
What made you want to join now?
I've always been a political person, so it was natural for me to join a political organization. I think it's important that everyone right now join some organization that you're passionate about, and I want to form solidarity. That's the only way we're going to fight right now.
Do you think people are becoming less afraid of socialism?
Yeah, I think the Sanders campaign did a lot to take away the stigma. I think there's a lot more progress we can make. Socialism doesn't just mean the government gives something to you, it means we own our work, we own our labor.
Did you guys strike today?
LaJanie: I wasn't able to participate, my absences [from school] were all messed up. I couldn't get left behind. But, like, I'm here for all of it.
Stephanie: I went to one class but I didn't go to work. I'm a tutor at my school. I sort of decided last-minute about the whole work thing. I don't really know what my boss thinks about that.
How often to you come to rallies like this?
LaJanie: Whenever we see a protest that's worth coming to, we'll come to the city. My first protest was protesting Trump's presidency at my school.
What about you? When was your first protest?
Stephanie: My first protest was when Trump was elected. I came to New York that first night. It felt pretty good, it let me vent my frustration.
You put all this together?
I did, I did. I have a protest consulting group.
What is a protest consulting group?
I am a professional figure skater and also a New York parade personality. I am also a lawyer and a journalist. It's a sort of schizophrenic career path, but I have closets of costumes so I go out to protests for progressive issues and causes I believe in and make costumes and signage. I help activists and other political groups stage protests. I invite people to protest and help get it into the media so people actually hear the message. It's an amazing time for protest. That's what I like to see, and I'm seeing a lot of new faces now.
Seems like that guy really wanted to talk to you! What did he say?
Sonya: Well, he saw our signs and was basically, like, I don't think white supremacy is a thing. Which is, uh, a hard place to start.
What was your response?
Alex: It's sort of hard to make that argument—we said, it's factually. true, and he came back with, well, this is my experience [as a man.]
What would a day without a woman be like for you?
It would be horrible. It would be sad. I don't know how I'd get through the day.
What brings you out today?
My wife and my daughter.
I love your crown. Why did you want to come out today?
I didn't go to work because today is for striking. This is a very important thing. I am undocumented and on DACA, and that's up in the air right now with the Trump administration. A lot of things are. But I feel like things like this [protest] reassure me. They make me feel better and bring us together in ways that Trump is just not fucking capable of.
What role does art play in protest?
Art is about representation, identity, and image. Those are things people will remember later. Strong images are important. In the image, you have the message. I do believe that the protest could use even more art. It's a way to engage more people.
Cool flags. So I take it you're attorneys?
We're a bunch of public defenders with the Association of Legal Aide Attorneys. We do criminal defense, housing, prisoners rights.
Awesome. Do you think lawyers are going to save us from Trump?
We're going to try! I think as long as everyone sticks together and works towards a common goal we can do it. And we don't really have a choice at this point.
What do you want to see next?
The impeachment of Trump would be a very good start.