Feminists march for inclusivity


Members of the Pitt Progressives’ Socialist Feminist Working Group march as a part of the group’s “You Deserve, We Deserve” week. (Photo by Divyanka Bhatia | Staff Photographer)

By Janine Faust | Assistant News Editor

Marchers waving signs made out of cardboard, paper and pizza boxes drew the attention of passersby as they wove their way through Pitt’s campus and Oakland Thursday evening — chanting in support of women of all sexualities and races.

One of the pizza boxes read “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Another sign read “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance.” About 20 protesters chanted “Trans lives matter,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Queer Lives Matter” throughout the march.

The march, titled “A Shout for Solidarity,” was organized by the Pitt Progressive’s Socialist Feminist Working Group. It marked the end of the group’s “You Deserve, We Deserve” week, which focused on the experiences of different groups of women and ran April 2-5. Events included a hygiene drive benefiting SisTers PGH, a Pittsburgh-based shelter for transgender and nonbinary individuals, and a screening of the Netflix documentary “13th,” which focuses on the intersection of race and mass incarceration in the United States.

Victoria Mavrogeorgis, a first-year mechanical engineering major and head of the Socialist Feminist Working Group, said the march, as well as the rest of the week, was created in response to January’s Women’s March in Pittsburgh. She and other members of the group did not believe the Women’s March had been inclusive enough in regards to transgender and nonbinary people.

“There was a lot of ‘my pussy is power’ stuff, which isn’t bad,” she said. “But a uterus or vagina doesn’t define what a woman is.”

The march started at Schenley Plaza and passed by several campus buildings, including Hillman Library and the Litchfield Towers, before making it way back to the plaza.

Slogans chanted during the march included “My body, my choice,” “Let me hear it loud and clear, refugees are welcome here” and “Hey hey, ho ho, gender violence has got to go.”

Mia Bristol, a sophomore political science major, said the march was meant to raise awareness about how many people do not consider feminism that is not intersectional to be true feminism.

“We want people to know we are still angry, and we will be angry until we see change,” she said.

The marchers were met with mixed reactions on their route. Some people simply looked while walking by. Others showed support — a man on Oakland Avenue yelled out, “You guys are awesome!” and a woman opening the door to her house raised her fist and cheered. A man in Tower B shouted, “Shut up!” out of his window when the marchers emerged from the lobby, chanting and waving their signs.

Julia Kooser, a first-year molecular biology and psychology major, learned about the march through some of her friends involved with the Socialist Feminist Working Group. She said she came because she is in favor of solidarity between groups that are often divided in spite of all facing challenges.

“Politically in the climate there’s a lot of division between different races, genders and sexualities,” she said. “It’s good to show support for all people being oppressed.”

Senior marketing major Jeff Migliozzi and sophomore information science major Jason Ficorilli — both members of Pitt Progressives — said they came to support the members of the Socialist Feminist Working Group and their cause.

“It also a way to make sure that as cis men we are being strong allies,” Migliozzi said.

The group ended their march about half an hour after they started, cheering when they finally returned to the carousel at Schenley Plaza.

Breathing hard after leading chants and shouting throughout the march, Mavrogeorgis declared the event a success. Despite the group’s small number, she said, those who marched were able to get the attention of others on the street.

“Most of us on the committee, this was our first time organizing like this,” she said. “We’ll definitely be doing this again and I hope we grow in the future.”

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