by Beth Griffiths
Last weekend, following the inauguration of President Trump, thousands of people descended on Washington DC and the rest of the world to take part in the Women’s March, an honourable act of defiance against hatred, misogyny and inequality. However, this noble act of resistance has led many to question the necessity for such protests, many suggesting that women are now ‘equal’ to men. What is more, many have questioned why so many different groups across the globe have decided to hold protests, not being American citizens and directly impacted by President Trump and his policies.
There are many things important to remember when considering these questions is. Firstly, the fact is, that women simply are not equal to men. Even in hollywood female actors are paid a considerable amount less than their male counterparts. Women are commonly denied top jobs due to ‘myths’ regarding their work ethic and rights to maternity leave. Women are presented as sex objects in the media, their perceived purpose being just to please men. And, President Donald Trump is under the impression that he can treat women how he pleases, for he is undoubtedly rich and powerful. And furthermore, it is also important to remember this march wasn’t just about the rights of women. It was about the rights of every single person who will be affected for the worst under Trump’s presidency.
The fact that Trump has been elected as President of the United States reveals that there is a deeply rooted network of misogynistic, homophobic and racist attitudes lurking across America. This cannot be disputed. Trump has always been open and honest about his attitudes towards ethnic minorities, women and the LGBTQ+ community (his own Vice President supports ‘Gay Conversion’ therapy – need I say more?). This network of, to be quite frank, hatred is alarming. And, to those questioning why thousands of people felt the need to protest, my answer is simple. Trump did not elect himself as the President of the United States, he was voted in. Trump himself stands as a beacon of hatred, and I believe that we should rise, not only as individual nations, but as universal members of the human race to educate those who, both consciously and unconsciously, spread such hatred.
For example, as actor and comedian, Aziz Ansari, pointed out on the latest broadcast of Saturday Night Live, Trump supporters are now under the influence that, due to the election of Trump, it is perfectly acceptable to broadcast racist viewpoints. We need to work together in order to prove that racism has no place in a peaceful and ordered society, which is exactly what protests like the Women’s March are trying to do.
Many reports have suggested that more citizens turned out in Washington DC for the Women’s March than they did for the inauguration of Trump. This suggestion reveals a lot about the state American politics at present, and the refusal of the American people to bow down to a future painted with inequality. The citizens of a country should be able to support their government, or hold a considerable amount of trust in them at the least, yet the turnout at the March on Washington DC illustrates how little trust and hope the American people have, something that is deeply alarming. It is only through protest that their voices may be heard.
Trump has now been elected one of the most powerful men in the world, and his presidency will actively ruin the lives of countless people. That is something that cannot and should not be allowed. His success illustrates our failure as a universal race to think compassionately. That is why it is important that the marches extended beyond Washington DC – even extending as far as Cardiff – for they represent a universal defiance against inequality and injustice.
I was both shocked and heartened, moreover, at the number of celebrities present at the marches, including actress Scarlett Johansson who delivered a powerful speech on Planned Parenthood, an organisation wildly critiqued amongst Trump supporters. It is in my opinion that the celebrities present at the marches stand as role models to many people, many of whom may not have felt brave enough to protest, and help to encourage others to take a stand against inequality. Moreover, as a society it is rather rare to witness mass amounts of high profile people taking part in protests such as these, thus I believe their presence helped to draw a little extra attention and publicity to the protests, and the messages behind them.
Of course, despite the successes of the Women’s March, there is indeed more to be done. I feel that in order to take the marches to the next step we need to focus more on the diversity of lives that will be affected both under Trump’s presidency, and as a result of the global problem of patriarchy and inequality – evidenced by the election of Trump despite his oppressive viewpoints. For, under patriarchy it is true that it is all members of society, save for a privileged few, who suffer. I believe that without further activism things will not change. I believe that, without the determination of the people to defend their own rights and freedoms, police brutality, homophobia, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, transphobia, and hatred will not be defeated.