Next Friday, 20 January 2017, Donald Trump will take the oath ofoffice at noon, followed by a parade, and various other festivities in Washington. The next day, starting at 10:00 a.m., an as-yet-undetermined number of people, mostly women, will gather at Independence Avenue and Third Street SW, near the U.S. Capitol and will then march to an as-yet undisclosed location. The Women’s March on Washington was started almost accidentally by Teresa Shook, a retired lawyer in Hawaii, on November 9th, the day after the election in which Trump won the electoral, albeit not the popular vote. Ms. Shook, as the election results became clear, asked a simple question on Facebook: What if women marched on Washington around Inauguration Day en masse?
Talk about opening a can of worms! When Ms. Shook went to bed that night, after asking her friends to help her start a Facebook event page to see if anybody was interested, 40 women had replied that they were. When she awakened the next morning, 10,000 women had responded to the event page she created on the fly the night before. From 40 to 10,000 in a matter of hours!
What, exactly, is the Women’s March on Washington about? It is not a single-issue event, but more a response to everything that Donald Trump appears to stand for. Initially, Ms. Shook was simply overwhelmed by Trump’s surprising upset victory, however as the movement has grown, the purpose has evolved into something much more inclusive, much more than simple angst over the victory of a man so un-qualified for office. In the initial stages, there was controversy as various groups felt that the movement was not inclusive of African-Americans, LGBT, Muslims, immigrants, and others who have also been discriminated against by Donald Trump and his rhetoric. As these things are wont to do, the concept morphed and the movement now represents some 200 different women’s groups, large and small, and an wide variety of humanitarian causes. I think that if you ask 100 of the participants why they are marching, you will get 100 very different, yet similar answers.
The march has become a catch-all for a host of causes, including women’s equality, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, equality for African-Americans, Muslims and Hispanics, gun regulation, the right to choose (abortion), and religious freedom. “It adds up to a comprehensive call for social justice and equal rights,” said Jessica Neuwirth, a human rights lawyer and president of a leading partner group, the Equal Rights Amendment Coalition.
As with all such events, the purpose of the march is to promote awareness. While the movement may have begun as a protest against the election of an inept person for president, it has become a movement representing those of us who have been marginalized by the incoming president, those of us who want the electorate to hear their voices and know that we will not be silent.
“We plan to make a bold and clear statement to this country on the national and local level that we will not be silent and we will not let anyone roll back the rights we have fought and struggled to get,” said Tamika Mallory, one of the march’s main organizers. More than 150,000 have signed up for the march, and the police permit allows for 200,000, though Metro police say they are preparing for as many as 400,000. It will be interesting to see the final turnout, and part of me wishes I could be a part of it.
Trump has been remarkably silent on the subject of the women’s march, and in fact I cannot find that he has even acknowledged it, though undoubtedly he is aware of it. I’m surprised his fingers haven’t tweeted out some denigrating comment.
Given Trump’s blatant disrespect for women, I was amazed at the number of women who voted for him. Some of my female friends have defended him to the point that I no longer consider them friends. I simply cannot understand the mentality that would allow a woman to vote for a man who has point-blank said that women are nothing more than objects for men’s pleasure! Surely we all have too much pride, too much self-respect to support this man and his misogyny, right?
This morning’s New York Times featured an article titled: “You Focus on the Good’: Women Who Voted for Trump, in Their Own Words”, consisting of interviews with women who did vote for Trump trying to explain their reasons for so doing. Incredibly, surveys show that 42% of women voted for da pumpkin head, 53% of non-Hispanic, white women, and I need to try to understand why. I used to call these women “sister”, but now they are aliens to me.
The range of reasons they give include worries about the economy, anger about the Affordable Care Act and the price of health care, protection of Second Amendment rights, fears about immigration and terrorism, and opposition to abortion. For some, it was as simple as voting against HIllary. A few snippets of the more offensive (to me) comments:
- My husband is a court officer and volunteers in the police force. [President Obama] didn’t support law enforcement the way he did the community …
- I’m seeing a barrage of patients coming in from different countries. An Iraqi immigrant came in last night, he needs dialysis. He will never be productive in the U.S., he will always be dependent on Medicaid.
- I think he’s a really good man, deep down. This guy has such potential, and I truly believe he cares about our country and wants to help everyone.
- What he said about women was disrespectful. But I don’t get offended like some people do.
- I’m super excited about Trump. I believe he knows how to build things.
- My dad worked at a coal power plant for 39 years and they’re freaked out about energy changing too quickly.
- Being P.C. was going to kill the country. He speaks his mind and because of that, he’s not going to lie to you. I don’t want immigrants …
- This is a Christian country.
- I thought if he would only have kept his mouth shut during the primary. About the way people looked, about their size. Really? About McCain. I mean, really? All of it was so egregious. I hated it, I cringed. All of that was bad, but it didn’t stop me.
As you can imagine, I wanted to knock each and every one of these so-called “women” upside the head with my solid wooden rolling pin by the time I waded through this article. Bambi, Heidi and Mitzi … just GO AWAY! Bottom line is this: these women are NOT my sisters in any form of the word, and they make me ashamed. All those interviewed were white, middle class women, and at least two were educators!
They say it takes all kinds to make the world go around, to keep life interesting. The U.S. certainly has a hodgepodge of those “all kinds”. I hope to see the day in my lifetime, though I think it is doubtful, that all people, not only women, open their eyes and say “What the Sam Hell have we done???” Meanwhile, I shall keep arguing, fighting, sometimes ranting … for human rights … for ALL of humanity.