This weekend saw millions of women the world over join forces for a united cause in the wake of the inauguration of Donald Trump (!!) as the President of the United States.
I sadly couldn’t make it to London’s march, which reportedly had around 100,000 people take to the streets, but I was there in spirit, and immeasurably proud at the united front for a better future. Yes, the Women’s March platform calls for equal rights for women, but they also take a stand against growing right-wing political sentiment in all its forms, including homophobia, transphobia, anti-Muslim bigotry, misogyny, class prejudice and racism.
The marches were reportedly the biggest protest in US history, with sister marches – 673 in total (!) – taking place across all seven continents and in every corner of the globe. Women pulled together and proved their wit, good humour and the fact that they / we are sick of the brash inequality and sexism. As one person put it: “We’re worried about what Trump’s election says about the state of the world.” And with good reason.
For this month’s Inspiration post, I thought I’d pull together some of my favourite signs and talk a little about all this because really, it’s affecting us all, and – in my opinion – not talking / thinking / acting on this (not me personally, obviously, but as a generation / world) is what got us into this mess in the first place.
Of course, critics, like my friend and journalist Christiana Mbwake raise some interesting points. She tweeted: “I guess the elephant in the room is that there’d be no women’s march if all women voted for Hillary Clinton like black women did.” And well, she’s right. 53% of white women voted for Trump (compared to 3% of black women). In hindsight, I can only assume they’re seriously kicking themselves.
Civil rights activist and the co-founder of Campaign Zero, Johnetta Elzie wrote a powerful poem which Teen Vogue shared. With powerful wake-up calls like: “Where were you when your ancestors set out to steal my ancestors from our homes?… Where were you when we wanted the right to vote, too?… Where were you when Mike Brown, Jr. was killed, and we took to the streets of Ferguson to honor his life?…” the poem powerfully calls into question the privileged position from which white women cast their votes.
I totally get it, and I agree with the frustration. But at the very least, all this mess has, as the BBC put it, marked the end of ‘couch potato politics,’ and we’ve reached a united front of sorts; better late than never. And when within days of commencing his presidency, Trump does things like re-instate a ban on international abortion counselling, begin preparing for the repeal of Obamacare and blatantly lie and take to Twitter to express far more than he should, regardless of anything else, a united front is essential.
And the call to action is far from just limited to a Saturday afternoon holding placards. According to VoteRunLead, more than 2,300 women have signed up for training seminars on how to run for office in the past two months. What’s more, Planned Parenthood – which provides free health screening and is targeted by Republican leaders for funding cuts – is seeing hundreds of thousands of people signing up to volunteer and reach out to their members of Congress.
As Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. told protesters on Saturday: “This is the moment of the beginning of the revival of the women’s movement.” And it certainly does feel like that. In recent years the word ‘feminist’ has seen somewhat of a resurgence, with many not understanding the *actual* meaning of the word as translating to equality. Many have confused feminism with the hatred of men, or with emasculation. But when equal pay for men and women is still far from being a reality, when women are far from being represented in politics, in the boardroom and etc, and when men in power can say things like “grab her by the pussy” and *still* make it into the highest office in the world, surely enough is enough?
Muthoni Wambu Kraal, a senior director at EMILY’s List (an American political action committee that aims to help elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates) said: “We always say that women run because they want to fix something or when they’re mad as hell. “Watch out for the one who is both.”
To be honest? I’m shit scared. Reading the news / going on social media / having any sort of conversation these days is scary, depressing and like actually being in a horror movie. If feeling like we’re in the same boat (how ever many million of us there are) is doing even the slightest bit to alleviate that, let’s row for our fucking lives.
What do you think? Did you take part in the women’s marches that took place all over the world this weekend?