Manchester Historian

Student newspaper for the University of Manchester's History Department

Wednesday 22nd November 2017 | Manchester, UK

Women’s March

In the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration, thousands of women across America and the UK took up their signs and expressed their desire for change at the Women’s March on Washington. Marching on Washington is not a newly invented tactic for protest, as it was widely exhibited through the Civil Rights Movement in America. The notion was first initiated by Phillip Randolph in 1941, aiming to demand equal working rights in the National Defence for African Americans during the war. More notably, Dr King let America know he had a dream in 1963 during the March on Washington, and this event has been considered the pivotal moment for the Civil Rights Movement in America.

With all this in mind, initiating a March on Washington for a cause implicates its mass significance and urgency. On 20 January 2017, the world watched as Donald Trump was sworn in as the President of the United States. On 21 January 2017, a series of Women’s Marches occurred in colossal numbers to express their disgust for Trump, and their fight for women’s rights against sexual assault, and other issues such as reproductive rights. To many, this asserted one thing; a man whose view on women depended on their aesthetic appearance, and threatens the very basis of social equality for all can still go on to attain one of the most hegemonic positions in the world.

 

Women have faced adversity throughout their lives. As time goes on, more cracks begin to appear, exposing more issues in which we must tackle with to attain our level position on the podium alongside our male counterpart. The woman’s struggle transcends the history books. The struggle adapts and evolves over time. Trump’s Presidency perhaps feels like two steps backward. Yet Trump’s viewpoint is not rare, even today. On the 3 March, a Polish MEP proclaimed during a debate on gender pay in the European Parliament, that ‘Since women are ‘smaller, weaker and less intelligent’ than men they rightfully should earn less.’ Trump’s administration condemns abortion, and planned parenthood, adopting a ‘pro-life’ stance. Alongside Trump’s politics, his infamous vulgarity sets a precedent for how American women should be treated, spoken right from the global representative of the US. Sexual assault is an epidemic in the US, and this attitude only propagates outdated views held in certain states of America, such as Oklahoma, who stunned local prosecutors with a declaration in April 2016 that state law doesn’t criminalize oral sex with a victim who is completely unconscious.

This idea is simultaneously insulting and belittling, and deprives women of agency concerning their own bodies. Aside from these demeaning attitudes to women, Trump threatens the very essence of humanity. His attitude towards immigrants is that of ignorance, racism, and a blatant neglect for human life, proving highly contradictory toward his previously stated pro-life stance. What is most worrying about Donald Trump’s ideology is not the presidents maintaining of these views himself, but that 46.7 percent of America agree with him.

 

Many have compared the current climate to that of Europe in the 1930s to the late 1940s an era which proved harrowing. Whilst we swore it would not happen again, Trump’s America undoubtedly bares an uncomfortable resemblance to a Europe which was dominated by Fascism. Yet while we can draw comparisons, there are also great differences.

 

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People are aware of their own strength in numbers, and the platform which social media can provide. The Women’s March on Washington is clear evidence that women are people who do not sit still while injustice prevails. The people have autonomous power. Many have remarked that marches do not have the influence they once held in Dr King’s era, but they demonstrate community. Daisy Bernard, who attended the Women’s March in London, said ‘despite the fact people were there because of horrible things that had happened, it was a really great day. It was encouraging seeing the sheer number of people there, and how optimistic everyone was. It was really chilled; music was playing and everyone was so friendly too.’ Women gathered not to protest about Trump, but to protest the misogyny he represents.  Thousands of women marched adorned with banners to fight for a million different reasons, but they were all fighting for their self-defined feminism. Women long before the Suffrage movements were fighting for their equality. The Women’s March expressed true transnational feminism which women have been striving for since World War One, and will continue to do so long after Donald Trump.

 

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