January 2017 heralded a year of massive change. The Women’s March, held one day after the inauguration of then President-elect Donald J. Trump, was part of the massive backlash he faced due to his past rape allegations and degrading talk about women. The March was held in Washington D.C. with over 500,000 estimated to have marched for the preservation of women rights, along with numerous other global ‘sister marches’ which raised numbers in those who seek change. Trump’s muddy history with women and his talk with Billy Bush (then of ‘Access Hollywood’) recorded the current President bragging that “when you are a star, they let you do it” and finishing his lewd statement with “grab them by the p—y…you can do anything.”
His recorded conversation has received negative attention from both the Republican and Democratic parties who were incensed by his demeaning actions and words towards women. Women weren’t the only marginalized group bearing the brunt of his troubling statements and alarming ideologies. President Trump has also demonstrated extreme xenophobia by attempting to ban Muslims from entering the United States of America, planning to eradicate a wall to separate Mexico from the US, and espousing the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants, many of whom are children.
The Women’s March was a rallying call to preserve democracy and diversity. It upholds their mission of standing in solidarity with their friends, family, and partners. It aims to protect the rights, health, and safety of the marginalized that have been targeted in the recent election.
The President’s newest decision to defund Planned Parenthood was met with outrage and opposition by the majority of the American people. This decision would affect many patients’ accessibility to reproductive care, the majority of whom are people of colour and lower socioeconomic statuses. The bill was passed with a 241-187 congress poll with Republicans making up most of the votes along with two Democrats.
The bills passed (Born Alive Protection Act and the Defund Planned Parenthood Act) aim to appease the conservative House Republicans, avoiding the threat of governmental shutdown over the organization.
A Participant and Her Reason
Many of the participants of the Women’s March were from different backgrounds and races, all uniting under the singular objective of protecting marginalized groups’ rights. “When you look at Congress and see that the majority of them are men, yet they are voting on reproductive rights, Planned Parenthood, or anything else involving solely women, you go whoa, that’s kinda crazy,” Demi Smalls said, one of the marchers who attended the Washington rally.
The Need for Marching for Equal Rights in the 21st Century
With women’s rights being actively threatened by the defunding of sexual health organizations, assault cases, xenophobic threats, and active racism, marching for equal rights has never sounded as logical as now. Yet it seems a degenerative despair at the same time. Women have been marching for decades now, from the Suffragette Movement in 1913 to the Equal Rights Amendment in the early 70’s. Women have been marching for as long as their full rights–to be recognized as an equal being with an equal footing in this world–have yet to be achieved.
In hindsight, the march wasn’t just to protest the unfair administrations regarding women’s health. It was an echo down the canals of history, one whose hoarse voice is laced with stalwart fatigue. It was the echoes of generations among generations of women refusing to bow down to systematic sexism. It was a conscious effort of women to regain their rights, to take a stand in arms against a system that elected a man to the highest rank in the United States despite his erroneous treatment of women.
The Future of Women’s Rights
After all that has been said and done with the marches, the question remains: What is the future of women’s rights? Under the administration of President Trump, the future seems bleak at best. There’s not much that can be done with the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the stated gag rule which blocks funding to any organizations involved in providing abortion advice and care overseas.
There is a bright spot in the future though: the women who refuse to give up and quash their voices amongst the resurging threat of their rights.
Can it help dislodge the retroactive laws currently taking place?
A wave of voices. Cresting and rising, calling out the atrocities done towards people of colour and people with disabilities. Marking the Women’s March with issues beyond gender equality. We may never know if these voices will be enough to dislodge the current retroactive laws; if ten or a thousand more marches are required for the rights of the marginalized to be recognized. Only time and perseverance will tell.
Written by Tennielle Callista Chua
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of the editorial team at IGNITE.