Women’s March Brings Together Thousands in Downtown L.A.

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Thousands gathered Saturday in Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles for the second Women's March, eager to participate in the nationwide protests and listen to a slate of celebrity speakers.

March organizers honed in on this year's midterm elections using the theme "Hear Our Vote."

Protesters march during the Women's Rally on the one-year anniversary of the first Women's March, when millions marched around the world to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's inauguration, in Los Angeles on Jan. 20, 2018. (Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters march during the Women's Rally on the one-year anniversary of the first Women's March, when millions marched around the world to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's inauguration, in Los Angeles on Jan. 20, 2018. (Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

But the rally was much more than electoral politics for many attendees. Demonstrators advocated for women's rights and equality, as much of the sentiment in this year's march overlapped with the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.

Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johannson, Viola Davis and Sarah Hyland were among a long list of famous folks who addressed massive crowds as they reached the march's end at Grand Park and City Hall. Here's what they had to say:

Eva Longoria

"This march and this movement is far more ambitious in scope and scale and it extends beyond one political actor or even one political party. What we're calling for is sustainable and systematic change to the experience of women and girls in America. A change from fear and intimidation to respect. From pain and humiliation to safety and dignity. From marginalization to equal pay and representation."

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman said experiencing "sexual terrorism" at the age of 13 made her feel the need to cover her body and inhibit expression.

The award-winning actress shared her traumatic experience on Saturday while addressing a crowd of thousands gathered in downtown Los Angeles for the Women's March.

Portman remembered turning 12 on the set of "The Professional." It was her first film. She played a young girl who befriended a hit man in hopes of avenging the murder of her parents, she said.

A year later, when the movie was released, she opened her first fan letter. It was a "rape fantasy" from a man.

"A countdown was started on my local radio show to my 18th birthday -- euphemistically the date that I would be legal to sleep with," she said. "Movie reviewers talked about my budding breasts in reviews. I understood very quickly, even as a 13-year-old, that if I were to express myself sexually I would feel unsafe and that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body to my great discomfort."

Portman said she adjusted her behavior, rejected roles with kissing scenes and emphasized her "bookish and serious" side. She built a reputation as a "prudish, conservative, nerdy, serious" young woman in order to feel her body was safe and her voice heard.

"At 13 years old, the message from our culture was clear to me," she said. "I felt the need to cover my body and to inhibit my expression and my work in order to send my own message to the world that I'm someone worthy of safety and respect. The response to my expression, from small comments about my body to more threatening deliberate statements, served to control my behavior through an environment of sexual terrorism."

"I keep hearing a particular gripe about this cultural shift and maybe you have, too," she said. "Some people have been calling this movement puritanical or a return to Victorian values, where men can't behave or speak sexually around dainty, delicate, fragile women. To these people I want to say, the current system is puritanical. Maybe men can say and do whatever they want, but women cannot. The current system inhibits women from expressing our desires, wants and needs, from seeking our pleasure."

Scarlett Johansson

"While Me Too means different things to different people, to me, it is very simply the ability to empathize with the visceral realities of this condition. I want to move forward. And for me, moving forward means my daughter growing up in a world where she doesn't have to be a victim of what has cruelly become the social norm. That she doesn't have to fit into the bindings of the female condition. Time's up on the female condition. ...

"I stand before you someone that is empowered, not only by the curiosity about myself and the active choices that I am finally able to make and stand by, but by the brightness of this movement, the strength and the unity that this movement has provided. It gives me hope that we are moving toward a place where our sense of equality can truly come from within ourselves."

Viola Davis

"Every single day, your job as an American citizen is not just to fight for your rights, but it is to fight for the right of every individual that is taking a breath, whose heart is pumping and breathing on this earth," she told the crowd in Los Angeles.

Her remarks came at a time when women across the country have come forward to accuse high-profile men of sexual misconduct in what's become known as the "Me Too" Movement.

"I am speaking today not just for the 'Me Toos, because I was a 'Me Too,' but when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence," she said in an emotional speech.

"The women who are faceless. The women who don't have the money and don't have the constitution and who don't have the confidence and who don't have the images in our media that gives them a sense of self-worth enough to break their silence that is rooted in the shame of assault and rooted in the stigma of assault."

Olivia Munn

"I'm asking all of you to be the team member for every woman in your life. Refrain from judgment. Be the rock of understanding be the well of empathy. Right here, we all have the power to make sure that our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, great granddaughters, grow up with a mentality, that if you come from one of us, you come from all of us."

Rob Reiner

"We have a racist in the White House. We have a sexist in the White House. We have a pathological liar in the White House, and he is tearing away at the fabric of our democracy. And when we all came together last time, we had the power and it's the women -- the women have given us the power. And the women continue to give us the power. We've seen it with more women running for office, more women taking the true power that they have and it's with women that we will take by this country and return democracy to where it belongs."

Larry Wilmore

"But men, we can't just reserve our listening for issues that anyone with the smallest amount of decency should lend an ear to. We have to listen to women not just because we're being indicted, but because they need to be included. We cannot be a great country until women not only have a seat at the table, but -- how about this -- are actually seated at the head of the table. And so 2017 could be called the year of speaking up. We need 2018 to be the year of showing up at the ballot box."

Sarah Hyland

"If we have learned one thing this year it's that we are not alone. We are not alone. Millions of women have marched, millions of women have raised their voices and told the world, hey, MeToo. And now, united, we have declared that the time is up. Time's up. Time's up on men harassing women. And assaulting women. And getting away with it."

Olivia Wilde

"This is a winnable fight, but we need everyone to work together to make it happen. We must reach across cultural divides and recognize our power as an undivided force. This means white women need to hold up our end of the fight. Not just coming to rallies with likeminded others but reaching deep into our own families and communities deep into the places where women wore t-shirts that read, "Trump can grab my p***y," and have courageous conversations about what freedom really looks like."

Yvette Nicole Brown

"We are a year into our resistance. A year into doing everything we can daily, at times moment-by-moment, to make sure that the issues that affect our opportunities, our careers and our bodies are heard, believed and addressed. That's a lot. That's been a year of a whole lot. But be not weary in well doing. Take a moment, take a breath, take a knee, do what you need to do to get your mind and your spirit and your heart right. But get it together and then get back into the fight."

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