Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Michael Moore

The March That Was Too Big to March


Pink was the color of the day at the Women’s March on D.C. However, there was also purple, and rainbow, and red and white, and black and white. Organizers were expecting 250,000; it is estimated that a million people showed up for the march.


Women made up the majority of the audience, but there were a lot more men than expected. And tons of kids. There were people in wheelchairs, pregnant women, and people of all color and nationalities.

According to the organizers, the march “held on the first day of the new presidential administration, the Women’s March on Washington aims to send a message to all levels of government and the incoming administration: that we stand together in solidarity and expect elected leaders to act to protect the rights of women, their families and their communities.”


Ridership on Metro exceeded expectations with trains running frequently and with few glitches. Trains were crowded, but the majority of riders made it to the march on time and there was a feeling of euphoria and good will. Riders cheered as they got on the train and as they got off. People who heeded the advice to purchase their Metro cards ahead of time were rewarded as they missed the long lines to purchase cards.


The station manager at L’Enfant Plaza even got into the act as he directed riders with a megaphone to go to the left or the right – and even did a little dance.

Crowds poured out of the metro station onto the streets of D.C. While there were no signs or people directing traffic, people just went with the flow – and stopped when they could go no further.

By 10 a.m., the crowds were well past Sixth Street, NW and Independence Avenue. Jumbotrons were located at the corners at Fourth and Independence and at other locations. It was standing room only.


All kinds of signs dotted the landscape. Some were familiar, like ‘Feminists Fight Back,’ ‘I’m with her’ and ‘Protect our Future-Climate Change is real.’ Others were more off-color, such as, ‘My Pussy Isn’t Up for Grabs,’ ‘There You Have It Folks, an Actual Croc of Shit.’

And then some signs were just downright clever, like ‘You Can’t Comb Over Sexism.’ Children lent their own voices with signs saying, ‘You Break my Heart’ and ‘Though She May be Little, She is Fierce.’


People came from all over the world. Two women from Alabama were staying in Alexandria, and said that there was a school group staying in the same hotel who had been there for the inauguration, having booked it a year ago. “I think that if it wasn’t for the buses, there would have been even fewer people at the inauguration,” she said.

A group of grammar school friends from Connecticut came together to participate in the historic event. Berkeley students cheered when Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, mentioned the university in her comments. Most of the states designated meeting places for their constituents to come together at the beginning of the march. Others held receptions at the Capitol after the rally.


The crowd welcomed well-known speakers, such as Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson, Melissa Harris-Perry, Michael Moore, Amanda Nguyen and Van Jones. Performers included Janelle Monae Maxwell, Angelique Kidjo, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Indigo Girls, MC Lyte, Samantha Ronson, Toshi Reagon, Emily Wells,  DJ Rekha, St. Beauty, Beverly Bond, Alia Sharif, DJ Remarkable, Amber Coffman, and Climbing PoeTree. Madonna and Ashley Keyes were last-minute performers. A group of largely female senators and other politicians took the stage. Among them were Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY; Senator Claire McCaskill, D-MO.; newly elected senators Kamala Harris, D-CA; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. was also there but did not speak.


In order to satisfy the many competing coalitions, the speaker list included over 40 speakers, causing the rally to go on way too long. Instead of the march starting at 1:15 p.m., as originally planned, the rally continued until past 2:30 p.m. Crowds were packed… so tightly that one woman had a panic attack and had to hold onto a wall at the American Air and Space Museum. A pregnant woman tried to move through the crowd to get to the bathroom. While there were tons of porta potties along the mall and on Independence Street, most of the crowd couldn’t get to them. The American Air and Space Museum had plenty of bathrooms, but they required visitors to go through security, which made the wait at least an hour long.


Nancy Iovino, Gale Curcio, Carol Martens Price, Jody Zeman, Susan Richards and Lindsay Richards

The March was originally planned to proceed west on Independence Avenue SW from Third Street SW, to Fourteenth Street SW, then turn north on Fourteenth Street SW to Constitution Avenue NW, continue west on Constitution Avenue NW to Seventeenth Street NW, and conclude near the Ellipse and Washington Monument. There were so many people, however, that actually marching proved to be impossible. Finally, around 2:30, one of the organizers said, “Go North!” And with that, the crowd started moving towards the mall towards the Washington Monument. The mall, which had been reserved for other protests, was half empty, making it easy for marchers to proceed.

sign10-Amer. Indian Museum

Barricades along the mall, supposedly left over from the inauguration, occasionally tripped people up, but spirits remained high with chants of “Hell No, We Won’t Go” and “Say it loud, say it clear, migrants are welcome here.”

a long day

The group tried to get to the White House, but they were prevented to from getting near the premises. Metro continued to work well, getting people home until late in the evening. Some vandalism was reported, but it appears that they were caused by protests that were occurring concurrently with the women’s march.

Photos by Gale Curcio

Where to Invade Next: Look Out World – Here Comes Michael Moore


I wouldn’t live in America if you paid me.

We all know the problems with Michael Moore and his movies. He’s rude, he’s didactic, he sometimes draws conclusions that just aren’t fair, he was a jerk at the Oscars, he ends up preaching to the choir, his megalomania too often overpowers his messages, and so forth. All true and valid reasons for criticism, but it doesn’t change the fact that Michael Moore has also made some of the most thought-provoking and entertaining documentaries out there and he’s done it again with Where to Invade Next.

The conceit for Where to Invade is Michael Moore ‘invading’ other countries to ‘steal’ their best ideas and bring them back to America.  While Moore is, of course, the main interviewer, he actually puts himself mostly in the background, letting his subjects and the facts speak for themselves and the movie is all the better for it. Along the way we learn some interesting lessons. It Italy you can get up to eight weeks paid vacation and moreover company owners like the president of Ducati (who lets Moore interview him on the factory work floor!) don’t even begrudge it. Plus, workers get two hours paid lunch and new mothers automatically get five months maternity leave.  Perhaps not coincidentally, Italians live four years longer than Americans. In France school lunches are four course gourmet meals planned ahead of time with the local mayor and a dietician. Slovenia’s free higher education system has actually attracted more than one American student to the University of Ljubljana. And Finland’s schools are considered the best in the world – but they don’t even assign homework!

It’s not just a story of how Europe offers such a better quality social welfare system. Germany is applauded not only for being union friendly, but also for coming to terms with the Holocaust while, as Moore notes, there was never a museum of American slavery until 2015. One of the more surprising and infuriating things we learn is that Tunisia, a North African, Muslim country, has free reproductive care for women (including abortion) and, in fact, included an Equal Rights Amendment in their constitution something the U.S.A still doesn’t have. Moore even interviews the former Head of the Conservative Moslem faction in Tunisia’s parliament who voluntarily stepped down, after realizing he was out of touch with the majority despite not having to do so. The guy agrees to the separation of church and state and on the topic of homosexuals declares it a private matter. In one of the more emotional points of the film when covering Norway’s much more lenient penal system, Moore interviews the father of a victim of a mass shooter who knows his son’s killer will only serve 21 years and the man’s refusal to give in to blind vengeance shocks Moore himself. Americans live in a great country, possibly the greatest there ever was, but as Where to Invade Next, makes clear we can still stand to learn from others, and remarkably the final moments of the film strike a hopeful chord for positive change.