The Pussy Grabs Back


Murray McKinstray on the Women’s March

Thousands of people visited Washington D.C. to take part in The Women’s March on Washington on January 21st, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. The march, which aimed to challenge Trump’s administration, originally began as a Facebook page shortly after his election before quickly growing into a movement attracting mass interest across social media.  An estimated crowd of half a million attended the march in Washington, with hundreds of thousands more marching across America and the world.

Whilst the figures about the size of the Washington march are disputed by President Trump, it brought together a wide range of women’s groups including the Muslim Women’s Alliance, the Trayvon Martin Foundation, Girls Who Code and Black Girls Rock. The movement has expanded to also include and elevate minority and immigration rights groups such as Define American and United We Dream, and also abortion rights groups such as Naral Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood. On the morning after Trump’s inauguration, marchers walked from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House.

One of the organisers during an interview days after the US election, Breanne Butler, said “We are doing it his very first day in office because we are making a statement. The marginalised groups you attacked during your campaign? We are here and we are watching. And like, ‘Welcome to the White House.’” The New York Times has also reported that since Election Day non-profit organisations associated with the march including the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Civil Liberties Union have reported a surge in donations – the PPFA received donations from nearly 200,000 people in the week after the election, whilst the ACLU received $7,000,000 from about 120,000 donations over the five days after the election.

What this shows is the immense support from a lot of the general public for a project that aims to unite women across race, creed and political beliefs – although men are invited too – and stand in solidarity for the protection of women’s rights, with the message that women’s rights are human rights. Similar demonstrations are popping up in cities across the world to also show their solidarity, prompting international headlines.  The question remains as to how much of a long-lasting effect it will all achieve. A problem with many marches and protests is that because they require follow-up action, any lack of vision for the future or any planning might jeopardise the movement, causing it to lose momentum. If we look back to similar protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, both of which also began on social media, what we see is that the power of social media in gathering large numbers of people under one cause does not necessarily mean that people power also extends towards implementing – or even knowing how to implement – a better, more inclusive version of society for everyone. They might have known what to push for during those protests, but not exactly how to push for it.

What’s more, organisers of the Women’s March are being careful to not call this a protest. But despite any confusion that might exist surrounding the scope of this march and its goals, and despite any inward debating about the variety of messages, modes of expression, and feelings of confidence in current politicians and establishments, you cannot deny the magnitude and energy of this amount of people uniting across the world. You can only admire the endeavours of so many people coming together to stand and speak for women’s rights – and ultimately human rights – particularly in Washington DC. I found myself impressed by Ashley Judd’s beat poetry style speech on “being a nasty woman”, by Gloria Steinem’s defamation of Trump and declaration that “We are the people, we are taking over”, by Van Jones’ appeal to a Love Army and by Michael Moore instructing marchers to call Congress every day, to join groups and get active and to revamp Democratic party leadership. By taking these few steps, the Women’s March shows promising signs and a promising future for women across the world.

[Murray McKinstray]

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