The women’s marches sent an important message

Last weekend, thousands attended women’s marches across the globe in protest against the personal politics of Donald Trump. The marches have had their share of criticisms, some of them particularly pertinent, but they should not detract from the sentiment of the march: women will not tolerate misogyny.

For some critics, who are clearly unaware that protest is a key part of any free democracy, the marches were ‘undemocratic’. These defenders of democracy were often the same people who were notably silent during Trump’s undemocratic behaviour leading up to his election.

Trump’s own personal conduct, which included shouting over Clinton in debates and refusing to publish his tax returns, could hardly be deemed democratic. Then there is the speculation over the legitimacy of his presidency, given that he did not win the popular vote outright. This of course does not even take into account the accusations of Russian interference which have surfaced more recently.

One of the key criticisms of the march however, and one we must all consider, is the need for greater intersectionality. For many people, this women’s march has only come after direct threats have been levelled at the security of white, middle-class women.

The fact that 53 per cent of white American women voted for Trump categorically proves that we are okay with him grabbing pussies, as long as they are not ours.

Black women and women of colour have long been struggling under the burden of racialised misogyny. Yet when they have protested, the white community were often nowhere to be seen. At Black Lives Matter demonstrations, they have been actively condemned, harassed, beaten and arrested – all for trying to attain the same rights that white women have had for a long time and take for granted, and which these women’s marches are desperate to protect.

The same might be said of disabled, trans, working class or LGBTQ+ women, as each of these demographics have their own set of prejudices opposing them that they must overcome. It is our responsibility to recognise our individual privilege if we possess it, and to do our best to improve life for all women.

Nevertheless, the marches were a necessary and benevolent force that sent a message to the US government and to women across the globe. Perhaps we are yet to see any tangible positive outcome from these demonstrations, but they undeniably raised the morale of many women at a time when it is needed most.

The passing of the Global Gag Rule, arguably a form of retribution against the masses who marched, just proves that under the new US government, women’s rights look set to recede faster than Donald Trump’s hairline.

To take this without putting up a fight would be criminal and offensive to women everywhere who were unable to stand in the marches. Criticism can be constructive, but to wholly write off such an awesome display of solidarity undoes much of the good work the marches achieved.

Not for the first time, the world is being presented with the embodiment of racist, misogynist, ableist and homophobic rhetoric, but to see it take office is unprecedented. To meet this direct affront to women’s rights with inactivity would be unforgiveable; that is why we needed the Women’s March.

Image Credit: Liz Lemon

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