Politics & Government

Women’s march baffles women attending Trump’s inauguration

Women who cheered President Donald Trump and danced at the inaugural balls in Washington on Friday said the Women’s March scheduled for Saturday has them baffled and indignant that one group would presume to speak for all women.

“I think it’s great, do your thing, but I just don’t know what they’re doing it for. They’re talking about rights, women’s rights, but what rights are being taken away from any women?” asked Susan Clarke, 50, who came to the capital from Charlotte, North Carolina, and wore a blue, bedazzled “Tar Heel Deplorable” shirt. “I don’t understand what the point is.”

The demonstration, which is billed as the Women’s March on Washington, is expected to draw 200,000 people Saturday to the same route as the president’s inaugural parade. Similar marches are planned in more than 600 cities around the world.

[Read more: The Women’s March on Washington isn’t just about Trump anymore]

At least 15 women interviewed by McClatchy said they objected to the name of the demonstration.

“They can protest, it’s their right, but don’t call it the ‘Women’s March,’ ” said Ellie Todd, 23, who drove to the inauguration with two friends from Spartanburg, South Carolina. “That makes it sounds like it’s a big unified thing, when really they’re picking very divisive issues and protesting against Trump – who by the way is now our president – instead of for something that would bring us all together. It’s not all women.”

Organizers have insisted that the march isn’t an anti-Trump protest but rather a rallying cry for women’s issues and a range of liberal causes that could be threatened by the Trump administration. The event’s policy platform covers issues such as racial profiling, climate change, abortion and LGBTQ rights. The official website lists 177 partners including Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP and Voto Latino.

Sheree Marre, 59, who drove to the inauguration from Huntersville, North Carolina, said she had friends who wanted to participate in the march but were turned away.

“They were pro-life, and apparently they weren’t allowing pro-life women to be part of the march,” she said, adding that the protest creates the false narrative that if you are a woman, you can’t be a Trump supporter.

Marre said she felt pressure to defend her support for Trump to other women after a 2005 tape of him talking crudely about women’s bodies was released during the campaign.

“We’re a forgiving country, and everybody makes mistakes. I mean look at Nixon,” she said. “Trump is human. But this is day one, let’s give him a chance.”

Other women who celebrated the inauguration said Trump was simply misunderstood by the women protesting him.

“I want to tell them, ‘Ladies – what are you doing?’ ” asked Donna Lutz, 71, who came to Washington from Gainesville, Florida.

“Look at his beautiful daughters. Look at the woman he put in charge of his campaign, a woman that has done an extraordinary job,” she said, pointing out that women who had worked with Trump for years spoke at the Republican National Convention.

“They said he was a great boss; we got paid the same,” she said. Women would have understood Trump if they “had just given him a chance . . . and read some of the things he said, not what someone else wanted to emphasize about (what) he said.”

Lutz said that after she started speaking openly about supporting Trump during the presidential campaign, many of the women in her neighborhood had turned against her. She thinks the protest creates a similar division.

“It’s like after knowing me for 17 years, suddenly I was ‘deplorable.’ Like I hadn’t taken care of their kids, like I hadn’t taken care of their animals,” she said. She then volunteered for Trump’s campaign in Florida, where, she said, she found a like-minded group of women.

“I think they’re disrespecting the office of the president of the United States,” she said about the marchers. “People who didn’t want Obama as the president, they didn’t demonstrate.”

Several Trump supporters said they just didn’t understand why the protest was happening at all.

“What is it you’re so angry about?” asked Jacqueline Anderson, 43, from St. Paul, Minnesota. “They need to figure out what their mission is, because the average person doesn’t understand why they have that level of anger.”

Over breakfast with her daughter at their hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, before the inauguration, Anderson said she was put off by a woman who assumed everyone there had come to Washington for the march.

“They’re just going to prove Trump right about being sore losers and being haters,” said Lydia Van, 28, from Sulphur Springs, Texas.

No women McClatchy interviewed thought the protest would lead to lasting change.

“They want to march because they’re scared of Trump or whatever, fine. But that won’t do anything,” said Amalia Alvarez, 73, from Miami. “I think they just have not accepted that Trump won, and it’s a way to demonstrate against him indirectly.”

Vera Bergengruen: 202-383-6036, @verambergen

Related stories from McClatchy DC