The Message of the Marchers

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Donald J. Trump took the oath of office and was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on Friday, January 20, 2017, before a large and supportive audience. The size of the crowd almost immediately became the subject of a controversy. Many in the media reported that the crowds for Trump’s inaugural were considerably smaller than those reported at the 2009 inaugural of President Barack Obama. Whether they were considerably smaller or not is a fact that can be debated ad nauseam but, in the greater scheme of things, it seems rather trivial. Trivial perhaps, but not to Donald Trump who, ever the slave to his nature, took to Twitter to combat the reports. The White House even held a press conference to declare that the media was being dishonest in their reporting of the crowd sizes. That press conference, more than anything I can think of, is symbolic of the wild ride in store for us in the next few years. I can’t imagine another president in history who would have deemed it necessary to hold a press conference to defend the numbers of people attending his inaugural event. But I digress…

The day after the inauguration saw what many are claiming to be the largest mass protests the nation has ever seen, as an estimated 2.5 to 3 million people participated in cities around the nation in the so called Women’s Marches. Depending on your political perspective, you found the marches to be anywhere from inspiring to infuriating. I saw a lot of response to the marches that would fall into the category of uncertainty. Many people took to social media to express confusion as to what the purpose of these demonstrations was.

On the surface, I can see why there is some confusion. There was no one single issue being protested. There was no solitary demand for a specific action. So what was the end game here? Women in the United States enjoy relative equality when compared with many places in the world. That is a given. If one was looking for the meaning behind the march in that, it wasn’t really to be found there.

It should also be noted that, although this event was labeled as the Women’s March, it was certainly not just conducted by and for women or even solely for women’s issues. This was a collective protest for all the causes that feel at risk of marginalization in a post-Trump America. Justified or not, there is very real fear and uncertainty with this wild-card of a leader now in charge.

In my opinion, this march was both a reactionary and preemptive response to the election of President Trump…pure and simple.

The march was a reaction to an election where Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes (to a woman). It was a reaction to the decades long history of terribly sexist and misogynistic rhetoric that has spewed forth from Mr. Trump’s mouth. It was a reaction to the long history of sexual misconduct and abuse allegations against the new president. It was a reaction to President Trump’s proposed policy changes regarding abortion as well as fears of potential threats to marriage equality legislation and immigration reforms.

If you were looking for a protest on a single issue neatly tied up in a bow, this demonstration may have seemed disjointed or confusing. But one thing was abundantly clear on Saturday and, no matter where you stand politically, if you are honest with yourself, you must admit that, given Trump’s record, there is reason for many American women (not to mention LGBQT Americans and families with undocumented immigrants) to be concerned.

Trump’s position on these issues may not concern you, personally, but they are a tremendous worry for many millions of Americans whose rights are protected by the same Constitution as yours.

Yes, the election is over.

Yes, Trump is president.

Give him a chance, you say?

Well, of course, he has his chance. The ball is squarely in his court.

This march was a reaction to illustrate that millions of Americans are not at all impressed with Donald Trump’s track record on issues crucial to them. They demonstrated in reaction to his record, as if to say, “we have taken notice of your act and we will hold you accountable to clean it up.” They protested as a preemptive strike as if to say, “you have the reigns now, we will be watching closely. Take our demonstration to heart and listen to our concerns moving forward.”

If you are among the many who saw no need for a protest, who feel that women (and the other groups who feel threatened) have it pretty good here in America, I understand. There is comfort in feeling comfortable. But do yourself a favor and thank the previous generations who didn’t accept the status quo.

Remember that your grandmothers were born in a time when women could not vote. Their efforts allowed you to stroll into your polling place last November. I was born in a time when women were marching for equality in the workplace and in schools. Their efforts led to Title IX and other legislation helping to level the playing field for women. Those gains didn’t happen without protest and lots of it.

Perhaps you are thinking that the issues these protestors support are not your issues. Well, I can assure you that in the early 20th Century, there were plenty of women who stood against the suffragettes. In the 1960s and 70s there were lots of women who argued a woman’s place was in the kitchen. In America, it’s not about all being on the same team, it’s about all having equal rights. It’s been that way since day one. 

Millions marched on Saturday to send the message that we’ve come a long way, baby, and we aren’t about to lie still and let someone turn back the clock now.

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