The Women’s March this past Saturday, Jan. 21 was highly successful, but not for the reasons you may think. If you were expecting the new president to change his mind on women’s rights, perhaps you are being a bit too idealistic. This beautiful global demonstration will most likely not have any effect on Trump’s policy decisions—that old dog apparently considers basic human rights to be a new trick not worth learning. However, the Women’s March on Washington and its hundreds of international sister marches have already had a resounding impact throughout the whole world.
On January 21, 2017, millions of women around the world marched for a variety of rights. The major principles listed on the Women’s March website include ending violence, reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights and environmental justice. This was not an anti-Trump march; that being said, Donald Trump directly opposes or refuses to recognize the importance of many of these rights. It is no coincidence that the March occurred the day after his inauguration.
Watching Trump’s inauguration was like watching a scene from “The Hunger Games.” Most of what he was saying sounded reasonable. We should put America first! But anyone who knows even the littlest bit about his policies knows the dark meaning behind these words. Putting America first means putting white, male, Christian Americans first. It means putting immigrants, people of color, women, people with disabilities and the environment last. In a terrifying update, the new White House website no longer has any information on civil rights, disabilities, healthcare or LGBTQ+ rights. When Donald Trump said he was putting America first, I heard the absent voices of everyone he is putting last.
Those voices were heard during the Women’s March. Looking at photos and videos from the event, I felt so much pride in my fellow Americans, including all the Lawrentians who participated in the marches, whether in Washington D.C. or its sister marches. Men, women and non-binary people marched alongside one another to show that no voice can be stifled. The Women’s March received media attention from every major news outlet. It became impossible to report on the Inauguration without reporting the millions of protestors marching around the world the very next day. This was one of the most successful aspects of the Women’s March—amongst the hatred and silence perpetuated by Trump’s inauguration, women and marginalized peoples were able to see that their rights still matter to millions of people around the world.
The global implications of the Women’s March are especially important. At sister marches in countries around the world, people marched in solidarity with Americans, but they also marched for improvements in their own nations. In Israel, where tensions are still high regarding Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, a sister march included support for Palestinian rights. It is clear from the hundreds of international sister marches that gender justice, racial justice and economic justice are not solely American issues. The scope of protestors around the world prove that the women who marched on Washington are not just whining “me-generation babies” as opponents might be quick to assume. The rights that American women and allies fight for are real, they are important and they are global.
After the Women’s March, there was some backlash among those who were upset that the event was not intersectional enough. Some of the complaints included that the “pussy hats” and signage related to female genitalia were isolating to the trans* community. Not all women have vaginas! And some people with vaginas are not women. Others were angry that so many people got together for this march but were suspiciously absent at other marches for marginalized people. One particularly poignant sign that went viral read “I’ll see you nice white ladies at the next #blacklivesmatter march, right?”
These are all valid complaints. It seems as though some of the basic principles of the march were not reflected in the signs and attitudes of some of the protestors. However, representing and fighting for the rights of all intersecting marginalized people was the original goal of the march. The protest was also a good platform to continue these discussions. I highly doubt that many of the people wearing pink cat-ear hats thought about the ways that they were leaving out trans* people. Hopefully, these concerns can continue to be voiced so that future events or protests can be more inclusive and allies can continue to learn how to respect all members of society.
As a whole, the Women’s March was incredibly successful. Thank you to all the women and allies who participated and fought for the rights of human beings around the world. The fight continues. If you would like to become involved, the organizers of the march have begun a new campaign called “10 Actions/100 Days.” A collective action will be taken every 10 days for the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. The first action has already been published—to write postcards to your Senators letting them know how important these issues are to you. Our elected officials work for us, so if something is important to you, let them know! Womensmarch.com, the official website, has printable postcards and will post the next collective action soon. The website encourages allies to get together and make filling out the postcards into a fun event. Get together with your friends, make some food and let your representatives know that people’s rights are still important to you!