Like many of the other hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets all across the world on Saturday, I was at a Women’s March on Washington. It was an inspiring day, filled with women (and men) of all creed and color marching in solidarity together, aiming to show our new president that the call for equality of the sexes cannot be quelled by hateful and misogynistic language, the tools that we can undoubtedly assert were Trump’s go-to throughout his campaign. What more, these protests were peaceful, and considering they’re being called America’s largest show of solidarity ever, this factoid is important given the contentious nature of public assembly in recent years- especially when examined through the eyes of the Right.
But I, like the other hundreds of thousands of people who stood tall on Saturday, found that the Women’s March was so much more than a revived urgency for equality of the sexes. Signs called for promoting LGBTQA+ rights, an end to police brutality and police terrorism, stopping the abhorrent treatment of immigrants and Muslims, among other things. It was a brilliant display of intersectionality, an understanding that the suffering of specific groups cannot be solved until we deal with the systemic issues of American racism, sexism, and homophobia that are so ingrained into our national psyche, despite what we may think. It’s like what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned from his cell in Birmingham, “injustice somewhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
The march, however, is over. And now the real work must begin. At this very moment, an emboldened Republican party is launching a national 360 degree campaign to delete over fifty years of social progress this country has made. One need only look to Ohio, where former presidential candidate John Kasich is still governor, and they would see an early act of war during the Trump administration against female reproductive rights. Aside from the obvious paradox that is men writing legislation that has anything to do with the female body, it’s important to understand that the little battles, such as the one in Ohio, where pieces of law are repealed or ratcheted back bit by bit, are the most volatile. Often, they go unnoticed, rushed through the floor so as to avoid the eyes of watchdog groups or the media. Other times, there’s a distraction keeping the average citizen from seeing what’s happening, like the recent farce that was the size of the crowd at the inauguration, and how the media spent more time on that than they did DeVos and Mnuchin’s nomination hearings, or the simple fact that Trump has made no real effort to divest from his own company- which is in massive violation of the constitution, particularly the part that says the president isn’t supposed to take money from foreign governments. And sometimes, we just simply don’t care enough to look at what our state and local governments are doing. I mean, zoning law is some of the most banal course material, any 1L can tell you that.
It’s important to remember, however, that public action is only a piece of the game that is social change. The Occupy Movement failed because it did not make substantive efforts to put people who were sympathetic to their cause into power. Though we may hate the game, we must play it if we are to have any lasting impact. Policy, thus, must go in hand with the collective action we take together. This requires further engagement with the Trump administration, and the Republican controlled congress; it means we need to stop shouting “Not my president” and start shouting “that’s my senator/state congressperson, and what the hell do they think they’re doing endorsing that bill?!”. The most important part of the American political system is the local and state levels of it. Change will have to happen from the bottom up if we want to have an impact on national legislation and policy trends. And this means the road ahead is going to be challenging, but Americans have never backed down in the face of adversity.
Many of the more typical conservative states are beginning efforts to attack organizations like Planned Parenthood, and there’s an Indiana state legislature bill is up for vote that would allow police to shut down protests, by “any means necessary”. The former is nothing new, the GOP has been looking for ways to shut down Planned Parenthood federal funding for some time now, basing most of their reasoning behind the false idea that Planned Parenthood is a glorified abortion clinic chain (hint: it’s not). The latter should be expected from Indiana, where its former governor, turned current vice-president, Mike Pence, wanted to create a state run propaganda outlet, disguised as state media; however, while this may seem hypocritical given both Trump and Pence’s hatred of the media, it should also be extremely alarming, given the fascist tint these bills paint, first government control of media and then a shutdown of public assembly- it’s like something out of an AP European History book section about the rise of Nazi Germany.
With this in mind, I encourage anyone worried about what these next four years, and what they will mean for themselves, their families, and their people, to continue to act and show support. Volunteer your time at any number of worthy causes, places like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), organizations that are acting on behalf of some of the most at risk communities and doing so with grace, bravery, and candor.
Give new meaning to “P*ssy grabs back”. Empowered women empower women, and this seemingly trite saying will have to take on a new meaning if we are to take a definitive stand against a White House that is controlled by misogynists and sexists.
The march is over, the real fight begins now, and will continue for as long as it has too. Until every woman has complete control over her body, devoid of any legislation saying otherwise; until girls aren’t taught to believe they don’t have a place in engineering classes; until young women have the ability to walk home at night free of fear from being sexually assaulted; until we stop saying “man up”; until we close the gender pay gap; until we stop slut shaming; until we stop letting rapists off with three month sentences; until we stop saying “trans woman” and simply recognize they are women already; until gender ceases to be a barrier from you relieving yourself; until we end all of this, the fight will continue.
You have fists to thrust in the air, voices that demand to be heard, the solidarity of millions at home and across the globe, and the impassioned hearts of those whose livelihoods are up for debate.
To blatantly rip off Marx: Women of the world, unite!