An Open Letter about the Million Women’s March

As of January 20th, Donald Trump is officially the 45th president of the United States. I logged on to Facebook for a brief second in the morning, almost forgetting and then logged out instantly. I also watched only the highlights of the Inauguration ball, speeches, and Whitehouse greetings without letting it affect my day too negatively. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m safely on the other side of this “wall” that is supposed to be built, but I know that my sisters, friends, mother and other important women are back home now, living in Trump’s new world.

To some of you, this is what you voted for. And I’m done telling you why it scares me. But I don’t think I’m the only woman who’s fear has increased in the last few months allowing this predator in office. Birth control has already taken a hit on January 13th when the GOP voted to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which will take away access to birth control for women around the US. In the last few months we’ve watched congress go after Planned Parenthood, a non profit that is close my to my heart as I worked for them throughout University. And this is just the beginning. Today Trump signed an anti-abortion executive order surrounded by men, which according to the Huffington Post “has severe implications and could be deadly for women and girls in developing countries and conflict zones, who often resort to dangerous methods of ending their pregnancies when they lack access to safe abortion. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 21 million women a year have unsafe abortions in developing countries, accounting for about 13 percent of all maternal deaths.” Do you hear me yet?

Trump has been coined “Predator-in-Chief” for his sexist attacks on women and “grab her by the pussy comments”. People keep telling me to stop bringing this up and get over it, but I’m not going to ignore these comments or make an excuse about locker room talk. Because if I do, I’m setting the precedence that this type of behavior in young men is okay, when it’s not. If I stop yelling about feminism and pointing out injustices then I’m pretending like we’re past it, when we’re not.

I’ve seen a lot of backlash against the Million Women’s Marches. People saying, “why are they marching? Don’t we already have equality?” to which my answer is no, we don’t. I’m sick of seeing young women turn their backs on feminism in the belief that we’re somehow past it. The Million Women’s March started in 1997 by Phile Chionesu, a grassroots activist, human rights advocate, Black Nationalist/Freedom Fighter, and owner of an African crafts shop. According to wikipedia, “The march was envisioned and intended to help bring social, political, and economic development and power throughout the black communities of the United States, as well as to bring hope, empowerment, unity and sisterhood to women, men and children of African descent globally regardless of nationality, religion, or economic status. One main focus of the march for the women involved was family unity and what it means to be an African American woman in America. The women of the march called for three things: repentance for the pain of black women caused by one another, and the restoration and resurrection of African American family and community bonds there still is.”  The reasons women are marching today are varied and different but bring us together as women.

In the last 24 hours reports have come out estimating 2.9 (new data shows 3.3-4.3) million women marched between LA and New York making it the biggest single day organized protest in US history. These stats come from UConn Professor Jeremy Pressman who had a live running google doc to estimate crowds at all the major protesting sites. There were also marches outside the US that aren’t included in the total, I had friends marching in Melbourne, Australia and Edinburgh, Scotland as well. Now, I don’t know about you but that’s pretty damn amazing! I get it, you’re probably wanting to bring up the people that were violent right? Because I keep hearing that from sisters, although the only reports of violence were not a part of the Women’s March but were a separate group protesting the Inauguration of President Donald Trump on the evening of January 20th. So, you know what this says? This says that 2.9 million women (1/3 of the attendees were reported to be men) in the US do not support Trump’s presidency, and although he is our president now, no matter how painful that is, it is also in our hands to make our voices heard and hope that he is a democratic leader that will truly listen to the people. Hoping that he is a terrible president and fails us would be like proving the Titanic was unsafe by taking the maiden voyage.

Trump fired back on twitter that day asking the protesters why they didn’t vote. I don’t know about you but I did the math and Trump lost the popular vote by about 2.9 million, so I’m gonna go ahead and say that may be who was there, along with many people that didn’t vote for him in the first place. I know for many of you it’s upsetting because when Obama won the biggest protest in US history didn’t happen and you “dealt with 8 years” and now we can too, right? Wrong. Protests are a stepping stone of any democratic industrialized society and are what America was built on, so if you think the women out there are being whiners then you’re missing the point. And I’m sorry if the protests were “inconvenient” to you, maybe you had to take a different road to work that day, but may I remind you that radical change is rarely convenient, so sit down and be happy that people are exercising their rights and that the majority are doing so in a peaceful way. For those of you who think protesting does nothing, maybe you need a history lesson regarding the Women’s Suffrage movement and Civil Rights.

So, why are people marching then? Because they can still see the indisparities. We’ve come a long way in 100 years and it would be stupid to not acknowledge the change, but our grandmother’s didn’t fight for our rights to watch us quit prematurely because we thought it was a battle that would end someday. Women are marching because Trump’s election and agenda is a scary thing for the women and minorities of this world. Because his agenda of racism, bigotry, and sexism has no place in modern day America. Personally, I sat down and wrote poetry and cried over my own rape a few days ago, something I dealt with and moved past 8 years past. This presidency has brought a lot of feelings flooding back for me as a women, and I know I’m not the only one.

Women are marching because they have been raped or sexually assaulted, devalued or verbally assaulted, been a victim of incest, or are still in recovery trying to deal with what that took from their lives.

We are marching because we are still being paid an average of 20% less than our male counterparts, because women are frequently harassed in the workplace and fired if they speak out, we are marching for the women who aren’t allowed the job of their choice in other countries.

We are marching for the sisters who don’t have access to birth control, or education, for GLBT rights and for the rights of all of us who want to make our own choices about our bodies and who we love. For all the black, brown, asian, muslim and disabled women whose voices are often drowned out.

Women are marching for our children, so that our daughter’s will grow up in a world where male athletes don’t get away with rape and our daughter’s don’t have to listen to “how not to get raped” conversations in University. We are marching for a new paradigm around victim shaming and rape culture.

We are marching because of Trump’s policies on immigration and the minorities that fear for their families and livelihood. Because we want America to be a place that welcomes all people and we don’t want a president who speaks badly about the majority of them.

We are marching for Standing Rock, for mother Earth and all that she has done for us. To protect our Native American communities and their sovereignty. We are marching in the hopes that new policies to protect our planet start becoming more common than ones that destroy it. We are marching because any type of extraction is unsustainable and renewable energy needs to become the norm.

We are marching because Trump is gathering in his administration people who are united by greed and white supremacy, and are very ignorant about climate change.

We are marching because some are mothers who want equal maternal leave for both mother and father, because current policies often exclude mothers from the work place or make it hard to be both.

We march for the trans/cis women who prove that having a pussy doesn’t make you a woman.

Whatever the individual reasons women are out there marching, they come together and unite as the divine feminine, marching arms linked, screaming battle cries, sharing hugs and encouragement, lifting up fellow sisters. Many men and partners and families showed up in solidarity as well.

So, I get it. I see your posts, read your blogs, and hear you say that you’re a women who gets paid the same as your male counterparts, has never been held back because of your gender, and doesn’t feel discriminated against or marginalized on a daily basis, so what’s all the hype about? I hear you. Now hear me. Almost all the women I’ve seen who say these things are white and middle class from small towns. I’m not trying to be rude, I’m glad that you don’t feel marginalized and that you have been able to break through that glass ceiling and don’t feel that being a woman has held you back. Good for you! Truly! That’s empowering shit. But not seeing what this march is about, not seeing how much bigger it is… that’s what makes me fume. If you voted for him, that’s okay. But I hope that you’ll educate yourself and realize that your privilege has kept you safe, and acknowledge that there are still a lot of women’s issues that unite us no matter whose side you’re on. And I hope in the end, you’ll choose sisterhood.

 

 

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