Why We March: It’s not about Trump

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By Giugi Carminati | Guest Contributor

On January 20, 2018, people took to the streets for a second year in a row for the Women’s March. All across the country—indeed in many cities across the world—streets were packed with women, men, and children with signs ranging from the defiant to the humorous. One of them read, “You’re so vain, you think this sign is about you,” referring to Trump. I reflexively answered, in my head, “Isn’t it?” Which got me thinking, “Why are we still here?”

I went to the Denver Women’s March for a whole host of reasons, largely political, but truthfully, I would have attended a women’s march before the Trump presidency. Why? Because women’s rights have always been under attack. From access to contraception, to abortion, to equal pay, to rampant sexual harassment and sexual assault--most of which goes unpunished--women have consistently gotten the short end of the stick.

In this respect, the March is not “about Trump.” It is, more accurately, about what many feel Trump represents. Trump’s election made it clear it is acceptable to treat women as second class citizens, racism continues to be acceptable, and homophobia is unobjectionable.

Families, men, women gathered in Civic Center Park in Denver on Saturday and marched through downtown. PC: G. Carminati. 

Families, men, women gathered in Civic Center Park in Denver on Saturday and marched through downtown. PC: G. Carminati. 

Fifty three percent of white women voted for Trump. That number is indelibly seared into my memory and it should be front and center of any conversation about social change. As a white woman, I had to make peace with the reality that women are not the answer to social justice. When Trump got elected, the rest of white women, as well as women from all other races, woke up to the harsh reality that this country does not care about them.

And as we turned around, disenchanted by our own fall from grace, we found brown, black, Asian, Native and LGBTQ people standing by our side who did not benefit from our white, straight privilege and had been subjected to far worse treatment. These were our allies. These are the people who we need and who need us so that together we can bring about real change. Over the past year we have built coalitions and, more than allyships, have become co-conspirators in building a better United States of America. One year later, we come back to the marches because we never left. The 2017 marches spread through every level of government and society, lighting a fire in all of us to do better and be better. We were “marching” by running for office, supporting candidates, voting, writing, blogging and speaking.

One year later, we are stronger because we are more united. The Women’s March is not just “about women.” It is about white patriarchy and the ways in which it establishes dominance over everyone else. It is about injustice, in all its forms. As I headed to the march my mother asked, “What is this march about?” She lives in Europe and it was a neutral question. I paused, thought about it, and answered, “What is there not to march about?”

The Women’s March is about criminal justice reform, and LGBTQ rights, and access to contraception, and sexual harassment, and protecting the environment, and more. It is about the ways various underserved, ostracized, ill-treated, violated communities can come together to say “enough is enough.” The beauty of our marches is not in defiant victimhood. The marches are a show of force. We will continue to run for office, push for legislative changes, hold men accountable and stop “behaving.” We will hold hands with our black and brown and LGBTQ sisters and brothers. We will help them get elected rather than keep asking them to elect us. We will put them in power and get them a seat at the table and sit alongside them while we work for “the people.”

While Trump epitomized why this country needs to dramatically change course, he is not the reason we march. He is a product of the system we are protesting and the system we must change.