This Is What Feminism Feels Like

A story from inside the Women's March on Washington.

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Today I marched on Washington (opens in new tab) with my mother, my best friends, and my best friends' mothers. I can't imagine a starker contrast between today and yesterday. Between the inauguration's pomp and circumstance and this crowd of an estimated 500,000 women and men taking it upon themselves to make their voices heard. To, as Gloria Steinem said in her speech today (opens in new tab), "put our bodies where our beliefs are."

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Yesterday was different. Yesterday I watched new President Donald Trump preach American dominance (opens in new tab) from the inauguration-ceremony stage while, just outside my friend's apartment, protesters smashed windows and wreaked havoc on the streets of D.C. There was no time left to deny it: a man who openly bragged about sexually assaulting women—among other terrible offenses—was in the White House. It was a surreal day. I cried.

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But this morning, I got up and joined hundreds of thousands of women on the streets of Washington, D.C. to remind Trump, the government, and the rest of the world that we are not scared to fight back. To fight the patriarchy, to fight misogyny, to fight for equal pay, for the right to choose, for immigrants, for our mothers and for our daughters.

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The energy coursing through the crowd was, in every possible way, awe-inspiring. We were polite and angry and hopeful at the same time. Clever signs were admired, water bottles were shared. There was no shoving, no bitter impatience. Just a lot of love.

I have been to other marches before, but never one as packed as this. We couldn't even technically "march" because the crowd was so huge. That was part of the magic of it—we were a group too big to ignore.

I saw women and men of all colors and ages sporting pink pussyhats (opens in new tab) and chanting, "This is what a feminist looks like." Some people wore glitter on their faces, others dressed up as vaginas. There were so many adorable kids holding signs about democracy and kindness. One boy in a stroller carried a sign that read, "I'm watching."

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I heard Beyoncé music playing and saw more #NastyWoman garments than I could count.

Occasionally a roar of excitement would ripple through the crowd. It wasn't a chant or a call to action, it was genuine exhilaration to be there.

We felt strong and empowered. Like we could overcome anything. Like we were actual superheroes. Like there's no turning back, and someday soon, the world will be the better for it.

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As Cosmopolitan’s deputy editor, Rosa Heyman oversees a team of whip-smart editors and hilarious writers who bring you some of the best investigations on the internet, from dissecting the latest Kardashian drama to uncovering the link between white supremacy and misogyny. She currently manages the news and social teams and develops the strategy for how the brand best distributes content. You can usually find Rosa glued to her phone workshopping a cheeky caption for Cosmo’s Instagram account.