On the 20th of January, 2017, outside the Capitol building, Donald Trump, President of the United States stood delivering his Inaugural Address. He reiterated his stance of making America great again, in line of his “alt-right” notion of Americanness. With politics in alliance with white supremacist ideals, with unabashed displays of sexism, ableism, racism and Islamophobia, Trump was the country’s new President, having made it to the White House despite losing the popular vote.
The electoral college’s decision could not, however stop resistance from building up, and making itself known. The very next day following Trump’s inauguration as President, Women’s March on Washington protesters gathered outside the Capitol. In Washington D.C. alone, an estimated 500,000 marchers turned up to protest-gathering in the National Mall where women made their voices heard.
Across the nation, women’s march were held-estimated at 673 by the official website. Marches were not limited however to the United States of America. All around the world, from Delhi to Beirut, from South Korea to London, protests were held in every continent-including Antarctica. Around the world, protesters were estimated to be 5 million. The women’s march was an historic event of unprecedented proportion.
Why, exactly, were these women protesting? Protests were held in opposition to the election of a rabid misogynist to the office of President of the USA, and the archaic, discriminatory policies backed by him and his allies. The protest was defined, however, not just by what it opposed-right wing aggression over women’s agencies and existence- but by what it championed- women and their rights.
Signs and slogans by the marchers targeted various aspects of this fascist and discriminatory politics-from racism to birth control, from gun control to LGBT rights.
The platform that helped garner this tremendous support happened to be social media. The idea was started by an Hawaiian woman, Teresa Shook, who, reacting to the election results created a Facebook event page for the possible women’s march-receiving some 10,000 responses overnight. Facebook became subsequently a platform to organise, advertise and endorse the idea of the march. Facebook as a platform helped the idea both take flight and garner the widespread support it did.
The Washington March also garnered support from celebrities- Emma Watson was present, Madonna was live covering the event, Karlie Kloss’s partner Joshua Kushner was also present- who just happens to be brother to Ivanka Trump’s husband and White House adviser, Jared Kushner.
While protests shook the world, legitimate voices were also heard in criticism- a lack of intersectionality as a possible issue as demonstrated by Madonna’s appropriative claim of identifying as a minority, as well as a cis-centric take on womanhood, flooded by vagina and ovary signs. A lack of organisation to guarantee momentum and direction was also cause for concern.
The direction such opposition will take hereafter is unclear, but what the women’s march showed is that there is no lack of solidarity and readiness to take action. In the dark times heralded by the current political scenario, that is, in itself a glimmer of hope.