What we do now

…keep our heads and keep the momentum going

So Trump is POTUS and on Saturday January 21st 2017, almost 5 million of us around the world marched in opposition. I couldn’t be there but I defended our right to do so all weekend. My swell of pride at the strength and unity was not diminished by the accusations of being “sheep”, “cry babies”, “crazy”, even “nazis.” I was compelled to address these taunts wherever I saw them.

I defended the fact that Madonna did not say she wanted to blow up the White House, she said she thought about it — because she is angry — but knows it wouldn’t change anything. Ashley Judd wasn’t acting “insane”, she gave an impassioned reading of a poem by 19 year old Nina Mariah Donovan from Tennessee. “Nasty Woman” is self-expression and art. If you were offended, offending you was part of its job. If you’re not ok with her talking about Trump’s wet dream, based on the inappropriate comments he made about his own daughter, how can you be ok with Trump saying he likes to grab random women by the pussy? Surely the hypocrisy of this can not go unnoticed. The talk of periods repulses you? Well I’m on mine now, deal with it. And if talk of periods repels you, why are you so interested in the menstual cycles of others? I will never understand the idea of forcing women into unwanted pregnancies. Pregnancies that could endanger them, pregnancies where the child has no chance of surviving, pregnancies that are the result of rape. Why do you want a child brought into the world who you will never meet and will not be looking after? It’s hard enough raising children when they are wanted and you are in the situation of your choosing when they arrive. This is not about pro-abortion, this is about pro-choice. A friend leaving the march on Washington alone on a flight was verbally attacked by four people. A family called her “disgusting”. Even their child said this. It shook my brave friend but I believe they were threatened by her. With composure, she responded saying she marched for them too.

Yet again this weekend, I found myself having to explain why we can not excuse Trump’s attitude towards women. A male friend again downplayed Trump’s talk as locker room banter and tried to use examples of drunken women’s behaviour on UK reality tv shows like Geordie Shore or Big Brother. These are very poor examples to use in the first place because these individuals are not leading a country and no allegations followed, but this normalization of Trump’s talk of kissing without permission and grabbing women by the pussy is dangerous for all women, especially our daughters. The fact this is STILL a grey area for some is alarming and exactly the reason why there is a need to keep repeating that it is wrong.

It would appear we need to constantly remind the world that: Women should be in control of their own bodies. Women should be paid equally to men. Women should have equal rights to men. And women MUST be heard when they say no. To support women’s rights is to support human rights.

I am not beyond having my behaviour called into question. I found myself being held accountable for sharing an inappropriate post. I saw something of Barron Trump’s behaviour at the inauguration that looked like a display of precociousness, and I reposted it. I was called out on this by two friends, and, on second thought, I knew I was wrong to do so. He’s a child of 10. No matter what his father represents I was wrong to focus on Barron. I deleted the post. I then found myself challenged from the opposite direction by a female friend with a disability who can not forgive Trump for his impersonation of reporter Serge Kovaleski. She believes his entire family is now fair game. The idea is to get him where it hurts after all the pain he’s inflicted. But we all know the only way to really get him where it hurts is through democracy.

Emotions run high, things can get skewed out of focus, but I am glad to have friends who challenge me, and those I can challenge. It helps me to remember what’s really at stake. Even the more extreme debates have been a respectful exchange of strongly held beliefs. My advice; don’t delete anyone because they disagree with you, even if you find their viewpoint offensive. Invite discussion and debate. It may get heated but name-calling and exclusion have no part in this. This is an opportunity to change people’s minds, to see other perspectives, to learn why people feel the way they do when they oppose you. This can only galvanize an opposition to Trump that is more unifying than divisive. If the world wasn’t in the state it is in, Trump wouldn’t be happening. Brexit wouldn’t be happening. People are hurting on both sides. We have been too complacent, too comfortable, asleep. But now? Now we are awake.

Finally, let’s discuss the supposedly appeasing cry of “just give him a chance”. Well, on day one of Trump’s administration his first order of business was to start dismantling Obamacare, with no idea of what will replace it. The LGBT, Veterans and Climate Change policy pages on the White House official website have been removed. Far from continuing the Climate Action Plan policy, his America First Energy Plan focuses on eliminating it and reviving the fossil fuel industries. On day two, the day of the Womens March on Washington, his Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, held a press conference during which he falsely represented Trump’s inauguration numbers. Counselor to Trump, Kerryanne Conway then called these claims “alternative facts”. So under Trump, “lies” are being given a rebrand. The numbers were down as anyone with a pair of eyes can see:

Trump’s inauguration on Friday on the left, taken at the same time of the day as Obama’s 2009 inauguration on the right. More details of the figures on the day can be found here.

And the very next day the numbers were trumped by the biggest march on Washington after an inauguration in history. Day 4 he signs an executive order, surrounded my men, to reinstate the ban on federal money funding international groups that lobby to legalize or promote abortion as family planning. It will have a serious impact on millions of women, especially those in conflict zones and developing countries. The global gag rule has been rescinded by every Democratic government and reinstated by every Republican one since Reagan. Despite admitting it helps millions of women, we know Trump will be coming for Planned Parenthood next. And speaking of Reagan, Trump’s cabinet promises to be the most white, male-dominated one since the 1981 administration. It may well be early days but the writing is on the wall.

So I say to my sisters, and brothers who joined them, who walked for me, my 3 year old daughter, my 1 year old son and the rest of humanity, even those who oppose us; THANK YOU. With this new movement, our voices must continue to be heard by talking about what matters and why we are doing this. We should be heartened by the power of unity, the march gave our resolve strength and now the work starts. Join the women’s movement, lobby your government officials, donate to Planned Parenthood and groups under threat. Collaborate. ACT. My friends who can vote in America, mark your calendars — November 6th 2018 — will be your next opportunity to make an impact on this administration. 33 Senate seats, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and 14 Governorship’s will be up for re-election. If you’re worried about an uncertain future, get informed and start planning to make effective change through voting for your local and state representatives.

Pass it on…