Read Halsey’s poetic 2018 Women’s March speech in full

"There's a war to be won"

The Women’s March marked its first anniversary over the past weekend (January 20-21), holding anniversary rallies in cities across America to reiterate messaging widely directed at Donald Trump following his inauguration, advocating legislation in support of women’s rights, and reform in various sectors including healthcare, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and immigration.

As crowds of thousands dominated cities including Washington DC, Las Vegas and Chicago, Halsey took to the stage to perform a speech – or rather, poem – which has since gone viral on social media. Introducing the speech she said: “I was in DC last year, and I came back to do a speech this time, but I don’t really know how to do a speech unless it rhymes – so I’m gonna do a little poem for you guys.” Watch her moving speech in the video below, and underneath read the full transcript.

“It’s 2009 and I’m 14 and I’m crying. Not really sure where I am but I’m holding the hand of my best friend Sam in the waiting room of a Planned Parenthood. The air is sterile and clean, and the walls are that not grey, but green, and the lights are so bright they could burn a whole through the seam of my jeans, and my phone is buzzing in the pocket. My mom is asking me if I remembered my keys ’cause she’s closing the door and she needs to lock it. But I can’t tell my mom where I’ve gone. I can’t tell anyone at all. You see, my best friend Sam was raped by a man that we knew ’cause he worked in the after-school program. And he held her down with her textbook beside her, and he covered her mouth and then he came inside her. So now I’m with Sam, at the place with a plan, waiting for the results of a medical exam. And she’s praying she doesn’t need an abortion, she couldn’t afford it. And her parents would, like, totally kill her.

“It’s 2002 and my family just moved and the only people I know are my mom’s friend Sue, and her son. He’s got a case of Matchbox cars and he says that he’ll teach me to play the guitar if I just keep quiet. And the stairwell beside apartment 1245 will haunt me in my sleep for as long as I am alive, and I’m too young to know why it aches in my thighs, but I must lie, I must lie.

“It’s 2012 and I’m dating a guy and I sleep in his bed and I just learned how to drive, and he’s older than me and he drinks whiskey neat and he’s paying for everything. This adult thing, it’s not cheap. We’ve been fighting a lot, almost 10 times a week and he wants to have sex, and I just want to sleep, but he says I can’t say no to him, this much I owe to him – he buys my dinner, so I have to blow him. He’s taken to forcing me down on my knees, and I’m confused ’cause he’s hurting me while he says ‘please’, and he’s only a man, and these things he just needs, he’s my boyfriend, so why am I filled with unease?

“It’s 2017 and I live like a queen and I’ve followed damn near every one of my dreams. I’m invincible and I’m so fucking naïve. I believe I’m protected ’cause I live on a screen, nobody would dare act that way around me. I’ve earned my protection, eternally clean, until a man that I trust gets his hands in my pants, but I don’t want none of that, I just wanted to dance. And I wake up the next morning like I’m in a trance and there’s blood. Is that my blood? Hold on a minute.

“You see I’ve worked every day since I was 18. I’ve toured everywhere from Japan to Mar-a-Lago, I even went on stage that night in Chicago when I was having a miscarriage. I mean, I pied the piper, I put on a diaper, and sang out my spleen to a room full of teens. ‘What do you mean this happened to me?’ You can’t put your hands on me. You don’t know what my body has been through. I’m supposed to be safe now. I earned it.

“It’s 2018 and I’ve realized that nobody is safe long as she is alive. And every friend that I know has a story like mine, and the world tells me we should take it as a compliment. But then heroes like Ashley and Simone and Gabby, McKayla and Gaga, Rosario, Aly, remind me this is the beginning, it is not the finale. And that’s why we’re here, and that’s why we rally. It’s Olympians and a medical resident and not one fucking word from the man who is President. It’s about closed doors and secrets and legs and stilettos from the Hollywood hills to the projects and ghettos, when babies are ripped from the arms of teen mothers and child brides cry globally under the covers, who don’t have a voice on the magazine covers. They tell us take cover.

“But we are not free until all of us are free, so love your neighbor, please treat her kindly. Ask her her story and then shut up and listen. Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian, listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs, be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues, for the people who had to grow up way too young. There is work to be done, there are songs to be sung, Lord knows there’s a war to be won.”