Inauguration weekend was full of historical moments and large crowds, with women's marches following the Inauguration of our 45th President in over 600 cities around the world. After the marches, many are wondering what exactly the marches accomplished and what happens now.
On January 20, roughly 450,000 people witnessed Donald Trump be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in person. The next day, over three million people in the United States alone participated in a Women’s March, with somewhere around 550,000 of those people protesting in Washington D.C. The weekend was full of history-making moments and massive crowd turnouts, but some questions remain unanswered. Was the March on Washington or any of its sister marches a direct protest of the new President Trump? Another question that many of us who marched are asking ourselves is “what do we do now?”
As we heard in chapel recently, stories change the world, and regardless of how we personally see the world or how we want it to change, we must listen to others’ stories, especially the stories of those we may disagree with. I talked to many people on all ends of many spectrums, be it age, political beliefs, or background, about what they are doing now post-Women’s March.
First off, how are female Republicans responding to the Women's March?
Mrs. Wendy McNamara is a co-worker and friend of my mom’s who supported President Trump all throughout the election cycle. She explained that her views and values align closer to his platform, including less regulation and control by federal government, tax reduction, growth of business, and protection of American jobs.
Mrs. McNamara would like to see a formalized platform for women by women that is taken up by both parties that supports equal pay for equal work, women owned business growth, job training, and education. Mrs. McNamara also added, “Strong women find a way to accomplish results in any situation or environment. Working together and supporting one another on a common set of issues and platforms, women can have success regardless of who is president.”
Lexie Rook (12) fell more on the “opposed to the marches” side of the matter. Lexie hopes people become more educated about women’s needs outside of America and devote their time to these women rather than marching, explaining “I’m not against feminism or empowering women, but if we really want to work towards women’s rights, we must first consider the women in Saudi Arabia and such countries who are beaten, have acid poured on their faces, and regularly fear for their lives. We should focus on the bigger issues at hand. I understand that some women don’t feel like they are equals to men in America, but if we really want to take bigger steps towards achieving advancement for women’s rights, we should help the women who are truly in desperate need.”
How do folks who participated in a march on Saturday feel?
Being one of those people, I question whether the argument of “focus on women in other areas” is just a reoccurring pattern of “stop complaining because someone has it worse” designed to keep women quiet regardless of where they stand privilege-wise. I wonder if it’s fair to give Trump the benefit of the doubt since we have already seen where he stands for women through the campaign process, and it is not a stance I agree with. I also talked to women with beliefs similar to mine to hear what their next steps will be.
Grayson believes it’s important to keep the momentum that the marches sparked going and to not allow ourselves to become complacent, adding “We must keep fighting back in peaceful ways together, contact our elected officials, participate in local elections, vote, talk about our hopes and fears, and engage in real conversations with other people, especially those who voted differently, trying to figure out how to make it all work.” Grayson also talked to me about the 10 Actions in 100 Days that the Women’s March actually published in order to keep this momentum going. Some of these actions that Grayson is participating in include writing postcards to representatives with her family and trying to engage her friends about the importance of engaging in government and fighting for a better future. A group called “Daily Action” has set up a text messaging service that sends subscribers a daily text with an issue that affects their area and directly connects them with their Representative or Senator.
I talked with Mrs. Terri Freeman, President of the Civil Rights Museum and mom of Carmen Freeman (12), about what taking action after the Women’s March means. She says, “I think our very democracy is at risk if we don't act. What does that mean? Everyone needs to be registered to vote. We need to expand opportunities for voter education. Help people understand that local and mid-term elections are as important, if not more so, than the presidential election. We need to be familiar with our local Board of Elections and pay attention not only to local candidates but the very important local questions that are often on the ballot. I also think we should be identifying and grooming potential candidates. The power is in the people. The role of progressive PACs is critically important. But in addition to identifying candidates, we have to be willing to help fund candidates. It is clear there is also a frontal attack on the media and first amendment rights. While I think the media failed us during this past election, one of the things that makes our country so great is a free press. I think the public needs to fight to ensure we continue to have a free press and freedom of speech. Finally, we need to ensure that voting rights are not damaged. When claims of voter fraud are made, and plans to crack down our system of basic rights, we need to be concerned and stay very watchful.”