Tuesday, January 24, 2017

On The "Why" of the 2017 Women's Marches

January 21st, 2017: The day women on every continent gathered in record numbers to march in protest of Donald Trump's election.

Photo credit: PoliticUSA
Photo Credit: M.B. Paul

I never thought so many people would question the validity and necessity of these marches. But if my Twitter and Facebook feeds are any indication, people are still woefully unaware that a) Women are still being discriminated against, assaulted, raped, defined by their looks, screwed out of their rightful pay, and generally demeaned on a daily basis and that b) Just because you know plenty of women who live decent lives does not mean you get to bury your head in the sand and pretend everything is fine.

I want to talk about this post shared by my cousin on FB: 

It should go without saying that if someone hasn't granted you permission to touch her, you keep your f***ing hands to yourself. And judging by the responses to her post, it's a concept that most people claim to understand.

Because, you see, the responses were ones of shock and outrage and disgust. Which is appropriate. But also kind of puzzling to me, considering that many of the people who responded this way had also voted for Donald Trump. Who, as most of us will never forget, famously said this:

So my cousin confesses to being groped, and the people who know her respond with anger and indignation. They didn't witness the incident, but no one (as of yet) assumed that she wasn't being truthful. No one accused her of having a score to settle with this person. No one asked what she'd been wearing, or if she'd been drinking, or other idiotic questions that presume she somehow brought the unwanted attention on herself, since a man can't be expected to know right from wrong.

And those are the appropriate reactions.

But when Donald Trump, a known misogynist who was once quoted as saying, "Women, you gotta treat 'em like shit," is accused of rape, sexual harassment, and assault of multiple women, these same people, and many, MANY others were quick to dismiss these women as:
- liars
- scam artists
- gold diggers
- attention seekers
- whores
- figments of "leftist trash" imaginations

It's that last one that bothers me most. That people are more comfortable dismissing an accusation of rape by a 13-year-old girl as propaganda, because by erasing her, they are erasing any guilt they might have in voting for him.

And that's when memes like this start appearing on Facebook:

Why do so few people seem to know that in 1990, well before the election, Trump's first wife, Ivana, also accused of him raping her, but then modified the statement as part of the divorce settlement? Or that Trump's lawyer's response was, "You can't rape your spouse?" Or that in 13 states, this is actually a true statement?

More important, why are so few people willing to rally around victims of sexual assault? Why does it have to happen to YOUR mother, sister, daughter, niece, friend, etc., before it's an outrage... or even before it's the truth?

If women have to wait until they're part of your inner circle before you're willing to show support and solidarity, then there's no hope for justice.

But we wonder why the accusers don't come forward right away.

Wake up, people. Women are not carrying mace or taking self-defense classes for protection against one another. We're not constantly looking over our shoulders or guarding our drinks because we're afraid of what another woman might do to us.

And so, to the people who acted horrified and incensed over my cousin's harassment, and to those who would be outraged and incensed if it happened to one of your own, BUT AWARDED YOUR VOTE TO A MAN WHO ADMITTED DOING TO OTHER WOMEN WHAT HAD BEEN DONE TO HER, these women marched against your hypocrisy.

Your Facebook comments say, He had no right.
Your support of Donald Trump says, He had every right.

This. This is why women (and children and men) marched.

Photo credit: N. Natalino

Because, as this article so eloquently points out, women are still not equal to men.

Photo credit: K. Broderick
Because every right we take for granted was given to us by women who fought their asses off for it, including the right to vote. And even so, we still live in a country that worships rich white men. Where they are not only excused, but rewarded for behaving like scum bags. Where they can mock the disabled, monger fear against entire races and religions, publicly call women fat, ugly, pigs, dogs, bimbos, pieces of ass, etc., and it's not even close to a deal breaker. Where people find it easier to blame victims than stand behind them.

Because people who claim to care about the women in their lives see the things that Donald Trump has said and done and still refuse to say HE HAD NO RIGHT, HE HAS NO RIGHT, HE WILL NEVER HAVE THE RIGHT.

These women marched in order to say it for you. You're welcome.

Photo Credit: P. Osborn
Photo credit: P. Osborn
"BUT!" some will say. "Donald Trump is a Christian man, fighting for the rights of unborn babies!"

How anyone believes that a man who referred to breastfeeding as "disgusting," and children as "an inconvenience to employers" really gives a shit about the "rights" of unborn babies is beyond me.

Let's pretend for a minute that he does. Let's also stop pretending that all unplanned pregnancies are results of willful, irresponsible, consensual acts of debauchery.

Let's instead say that one of these men, who, like Trump, believes women are theirs for the taking, rapes your (insert daughter, niece, sister, wife, friend, here). And it results in her becoming pregnant.

How do you tell a female you claim to love, a female who's probably grown up hearing that she needs to respect her body, that it's her obligation to carry and bear a constant physical reminder of the day someone else disrespected it? That allowing her body to heal from the attack she never asked for (no matter what anyone else says), is secondary to the "rights" of the cluster of cells growing inside it? That she's supposed to see this as a gift? A "miracle?" What if she's a minor? What if he infected her with a sexually transmitted disease, that can potentially be passed down to the fetus? What if she's already married, with other children? How does she explain to them that they need to live with a daily memento of why women like their mom need to be scared ALL. THE. TIME?

These women marched because the only person with the right to make that call is the person in that situation. And it's sure as hell never going to be Donald Trump, or any other man in Congress, who will never walk one step in a woman's shoes.

Photo Credit: NYMag

So for those of you fist-pumping over Trump's determination to de-fund "baby killing" establishments like Planned Parenthood, here's a newsflash: Some PP facilities don't even perform abortions.

But they *will* perform cancer screenings, pap smears, and other life-saving procedures for women who might otherwise not be able to afford it. Like my best friend, who was sent to Planned Parenthood when the emergency room brushed off her abdominal pain as menstrual upon finding out she did not have health insurance. It was PP that performed an ultrasound and sent her back to the ER. Her "menstrual problems?" Turned out to be a blood clot the size of a quarter in her abdomen.

And so, these women are marching because they understand that Planned Parenthood is in the business of saving lives, not ending them.

Photo Credit: Twitter
There are so many other reasons that these women gathered to march. And despite popular belief, not one of those reasons is because women want Donald Trump to fail as president.

I haven't seen a single picture of a woman holding a sign that says, "FAIL, MOTHERF***ER!" And that's because women want the exact opposite. We want him to prove that he cares about us. We want him to prove that we've been heard. We want him to acknowledge that we're people, not objects - no matter what our race, or religion, or sexual orientation. Regardless of disability or how we look, what color our skin is, or how we govern our bodies.

These women marched because they *don't* want Donald Trump to fail us. They want him to make up for all the ways in which he already has.

Photo credit: I.M. Calovine