Women’s March on Washington turns into a global movement.
On January 20, as Donald J. Trump was being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, it felt like you were watching a funeral. It was as if everything we had come to accept as a given, as normalcy, over the past eight years had suddenly been swept away by a giant wave of sewage.
It wasn’t the usual sadness a liberal feels when the conservatives win an election. Where before there was a difference of political opinion, now lies a rift between two alternative realities—or, as Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway masterfully twisted it, alternative facts.
When Barack and Michelle Obama took off in that helicopter, it felt like they were taking with them the America they fought so hard to foster: a United States where women are respected and protected, where minorities are supported and promoted, where love is equal for all, and where basic rights are basic rights for everyone, regardless of income, race, gender or religion.
It wasn’t a done deal, but it felt like tolerance and acceptance was finally winning over the Western mind for good.
The visceral reaction to Trump’s election comes—at least for me, and I know I am not alone in feeling this way—comes from an indignation so deep it penetrates the core of what I consider counts for being human. There was one tweet that really resonated with me recently. It was the video of Trump mocking a disabled reporter, Serge Kovalevski, at one of his rallies captioned: “As long as I live, I will never understand how that alone wasn’t the end of it.” Meryl Streep spoke about the same moment that her heart broke.
It wasn’t because Trump’s attack on a disabled person is somehow worse than his attack on anyone else—Megyn Kelly, John Lewis, John McCain, Meryl Streep. But it was the first time in the presidential campaign that his hateful rhetoric against immigrants, Muslims and fellow Republicans turned from a political tool to a personal act of hatred. It was a moment when all credibility was stripped from his politics because underlying them was a vast moral abyss. For a man who has made a big deal about the size of his tiny hands, for decades, this was when you saw him for what he really was: a misogynistic narcissist for whom nothing was sacred.
And there was no going back. No guarantee of jobs, or reformed health care or any other miraculous promise that he made could possibly justify any support for Trump. And yet people did. And women did not care that he did not see a difference between sexual assault and “locker room talk.” And immigrants didn’t think he meant them specifically when he called them criminals and rapists. And now he is the president of a country that the whole world can’t take its eyes of. And its White House immediately deleted the pages on climate change, civil and LGBT rights from its list of issues. And it just felt so hopeless.
Until the women got really, really angry.
It is hard not to feel proud watching the footage from the Women’s March on Washington and its 600+ sister events across the globe, from all your friends around the world. A conservative estimate put attendance at well over 3 million in US cities alone, making it the largest protest in American history. When you saw photos of planes filled with just women on their way to Washington, you knew something big was happening.
Women, men, children and pets, from the Virgin Islands to Antarctica, stood up for the better angels of our nature. It was a wall of support for everyone who feels threatened by the Trump administration and its policies that may reverberate across continents. In Washington, protesters flooded the entire length of the route, dwarfing Trump’s inauguration crowd a day earlier. Over 100,000 marched in London, the mayor included, and when the official rally was over, thousands were still spilling into Trafalgar Square, brimming over the edges of its 35,000 capacity.
It was feisty, it was boisterous, it was witty, it was indignant, it was warm. It was a powerful message of hope in our common humanity that is no longer isolated, but finds soul mates thousands of miles away. It was a hand reaching out across generations, by those who fought tooth and nail for the rights we now see are not inalienable, fighting for them all over again.
Once you’ve worn sneakers with a dress, you’re never going to give that up. How do you think we feel about our reproductive rights and equal pay? The sisterhood just schooled you.
It was my first public protest and it was only the beginning of a long fight against the shadow of reactionism, isolationism and bigotry that has entered our politics. Someone said to me, “At least it’s not your president.” That is true, but it is also bigger than that.
The Women’s March was not just a march against Trump—it was a rebellion against what he represents. It was a resistance by the sons and daughters of the Suffragettes, of Roe vs. Wade and Loving vs. Virginia, of the first freed slave and the first black president, of the first woman in space and the first woman to get a university education, of the all-women squadron of bomber pilots of World War II—the Night Witches—and of all the witches you failed to burn.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
Photo Credit: mathiaswasik