As Donald Trump struts towards inauguration, a million or more women will gather in D.C. the day after, to mark his first day of presidency in protest and state to his cabinet and the world, that women’s rights are human rights. That is the moral of The Women’s March on Washington, a protest that has grown in unity, into a movement for inclusion and equality for all. Their website states – we stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.
History provides the same lesson to us again and again. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere; Martin Luther King penned the prolific words from his Birmingham jail cell. A German pastor who regretted his nonchalance during the Holocaust ended his famous sermon in concentration camp with, “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” When we fail to defend the other, we fail to defend ourselves. When we let one group be suppressed by another, we allow ourselves to be subjugated, forced into a hierarchical system where we no longer have power. That is the system that women, LGBTQ, people of color, and others are fighting for this Saturday, January 21st, 2017.
As a developed nation, we preach that women are the backbone of communities, that the key to economic development lies in giving girls the same opportunities as boys. Yet, two hundred and forty-one years later, American women are still fighting the hegemonic delusion that politicians hide behind: ‘all men are created equal’. The history of America is riddled with marginalized populations fighting, tooth and nail, not just for the rights supposedly guaranteed to them, but for the value and dignity inherent in the ideal secular democracy we pretend to be.
The fight for civil rights to women’s suffrage has always needed the power of people and demonstrations. To march in Washington evokes the legacies of powerful public demonstrations in American sociopolitical history, like Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the Moratorium March to end the war in Vietnam, and the Million Man March to highlight the collective power of the African-American community. Historical significance is embedded in the event’s name itself, but one may ask how much will a demonstration do? Social media storms last for so long and grassroots movements often don’t have significant impact on policymakers.
“The question is, at the march, what kind of organizational structures or movements will also be present to help people know how to channel their energy for the next day and for the long haul,” states Marcia Chatelain, a faculty fellow at Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice. “Movements are not just the dramatic moments. It’s about the everyday acts of resistance that the marches are also trying to represent. Everyone has the capacity in their communities to resist.”
And that’s the magic ingredient – everyone else. A women’s march, for some, will always be tainted and labeled as a ‘feminist’ movement, but the message to spread is that this isn’t just about women. The lesson to be learned is that we are all one; our fate is in each others’ hands. We are all women; we are all Sioux – our rights, our bodies, and our dignity have been discarded. To earn our power back, we must act as one and fight as one.
“Intersectional feminism is the future of feminism and of this movement,” explains Bob Bland, one of the event’s co-chairs. “We must not just talk about feminism as one issue, like access to reproductive care.” Organizers of the event have reiterated that the event isn’t necessarily anti-Trump, but in the wake of some of his controversial comments and his politically conservative aspirations to limit reproductive health access, the timing seems just right.
We encourage you, now more than ever, to become politically active. Some may bemoan the pointlessness of protest, but democracy is a process and it works! Just take for example, all we accomplished in our home state of New York when it came to banning together to create history and bills in support of menstrual equity. We have the power to re-write laws. Iceland’s women just leveled the 14% pay gap in 2016 by leaving work 14% early every day till legislation addressed their needs. We have the power, when united, to literally bring thing to a standstill. If women unionized the way laborers do, imagine what we could achieve!
If you’re able to go down to D.C. or attend one of the sister demonstrations being held nationwide and globally, be sure to send us photos of your protest signs and the fierce women you meet during the day; tweet to us at @maximhy so we can share your posts as part of our coverage. May the force be with you <3