Fort Myers Florida Weekly

Ain’t I a woman?



The women’s march on the nation’s capital is taking shape, the result of a grassroots campaign to rally in support of women’s rights. The event is Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. It isn’t billed as an anti-Trump protest. Rather, the organizers say its aim is to send a message to all levels of government that participants’ “expect elected leaders to act to protect the rights of women, their families and their communities.”

Organizers think the march will be the largest demonstration associated with Trump’s inauguration, a robust dissent opposing the normalization of the transfer of power to a man antithetical to American and democratic values. Trump lost the popular vote by a wide margin and the march is to remind him he doesn’t have a mandate to undo what it has taken more than 200 years to achieve.

The breadth is stunning of those whom Trump has threatened, demonized and insulted on his way to the White House. He has proven himself to be an equal opportunity bigot. The march is expected to draw Americans of every stripe and hue.

Among those Trump has bullied, women hold a special place in his jaded heart. They have borne his scorn, disrespect and sexual predations. The very idea of such a man occupying the Oval Office undermines the historic commitment to gender equity women have fought to achieve since the earliest days of the republic. Gender equity is the bridge uniting women and men in common cause across multiple issues.

As for women, Trump’s election is a stunning reversal of fortune and threat to women’s rights. Ironically, it was enabled by the 42 percent of women and the 53 percent of white women who voted for the man. All those women who said they wouldn’t vote for Hillary just because she was a woman? They didn’t.

Instead of a woman breaking the glass ceiling and winning the White House, feminists saw America elect a misogynist and self-proclaimed sexual predator.

It was a shocker. All the myths of women’s solidarity on behalf of protecting and supporting gender equality went down the toilet. Women voted for Trump despite his racism, sexism and misogyny. They immolated themselves on the pier of the man’s imagined superiority to prove they could. Time will tell if they will live to regret it. Their daughters will be the ones to tell them.

Meanwhile, women supporting Trump will sign up for the after-party. But at least 100,000 of their sisters will be in the streets instead.

It is only a natural that a woman was the catalyst for the march. Like many others, Trump’s election was a bridge too far for Rebecca Shook. She could not accept that a man with like him could ascend to the Oval Office. The retired lawyer and grandmother said in an interview with Reuters, “I was in such shock and disbelief that this type of sentiment could win. We had to let people know that is not who (we) are.”

With her friends’ help, she created an events page on Facebook proposing a women’s march on Washington during Trump’s inauguration. Then, she called it a day and took her dismay to bed. Within 24 hours, 10,000 people signed up.

The idea snowballed nationwide. It encountered speed bumps along the way. The diversity of the march’s initial leadership was challenged. Others accused the organizers of appropriating for their own use the historic movement of African-American women to win racial equality for their sex.

It’s a sore point. Issues of race and racism within the Women’s Movement are old as the movement itself. They stem from the failure of white women to actualize common cause with women of color in their fight for racial justice. The goal is essential to both causes.

In my experience, race and gender discrimination share context in matters of oppression. One is never present without the existence of the other though they manifest themselves differently. And both forms are inseparable in their consequence.

They foreclose and deny its victims of a lifetime of opportunities based on the “accident” of one’s birth. It is a disparagement of possibilities without end and an assignment of worth without exit. The class division among those who suffer systemic discrimination reflects how society splits the hairs.

The march organizers have since taken pains to course-correct. Dozens of organizations are signed on as partners. A thousand buses will bring participants to Washington. originating from at least 41 states.

In Florida, coordinators have formed a statewide network and multiple local chapters to help manage the logistics and activities. They expect to draw up to 20,000 participants from Florida. Sister demonstrations also are being held in Florida statewide.

Susan B. Anthony once said, “You would better educate 10 women into the practice of liberal principles than to organize a thousand on a platform of intolerance and bigotry.”

Women may have helped elect Trump but the women who didn’t will hold him accountable.

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