Conveniently, the National NOW Conference was taking place a couple feet away at the Embassy Suites Tampa, which allowed for a wide diverse crowd of feminists and allies. One young man, Ryan, came for the rally, but decided to stay for the NOW Conference. With cars honking and women chanting, the energetic rally appeared to cross generational and racial divides. Although the crowd was predominantly composed of older white women, there was a healthy mix of young and old, black and latina feminists all out in the sweltering heat for a common purpose: women standing united. Or as, one Latina feminist chanted, “¡Mujeres! ¡Unidas! ¡No serán vencidas!” Women united together will not be defeated.
And how are these feminists fighting back? Through votes. During the rally, Maria Rodriguez, a union leader, said “We believe true democracy is about representing all people,” and that what the Tea Party representatives do now will translate against them in future elections. O’Neill cites the upset victory of Rep. Kathy Hochul over a traditionally Republican seat as an example of the voters’ power. Hochul largely based her campaign in opposition of Paul Ryan’s plan to fix Medicare.
O’Neill believes that rallies like these demonstrate that feminism is not only alive and strong, but growing. She is excited by the younger faces she sees, saying that many of the city chapters are headed by women under 30.
Before moving the crowd indoors, one of the speakers addressed the audience: “Are you all feeling warm out here? Well, I know someone’s who’s feeling even hotter.” Behind the speaker, Sen. Rubio’s offices stood empty. The Senator was not in.