It still feels like something out of a bad sci-fi novel depicting a dystopian hell: a bully with an orange face is the president of the United States. Thankfully, the plot is not progressing quite according to plan for our Machiavellian anti-hero, who likely wasn’t counting on people around the world – more than 2.5 million in more than 80 countries on every continent (even Antarctica) – marching against him the day after his inauguration.
It is poetic justice that far more people showed up for the Women’s March on Washington than his horrific shit-show of a swearing-in (despite his utterly ludicrous claims otherwise), but what is far more impressive is how this event has seemingly brought the world together against hatred and intolerance.
Much has been written about the marches by writers far more talented than myself (including the amazing Laurie Penny and our editor-in-chief Lizzie Marvelly, who discussed some of what happened in her call for deep thought and fierce action), but what I can say is this: the event touched me like no rally ever had before. Whether it was amazing speeches at the Auckland event by Alison Mau, Tracey Barnett, Mt Albert electorate Labour candidate Jacinda Ardern, Dr Pani Farvid (whose speech on intersectionality slayed) and Villainesse’s own founder and editor, or the fact more than 1,000 people turned up with not a single police officer in sight, it was incredible to see so many people from diverse backgrounds coming together for a common cause, resolved to take action.
And that’s the key – taking action. The ‘what comes next’. Because one protest – awesome as it was – can’t, and won’t, be enough. Sadly, the Orange One is still the president, and his worshippers (“supporters” seems too generous a term for their fanatical devotion to a small-handed leader who has anything but their best interests at heart) are still crowing about how they’ve supposedly vanquished the “man-hating feminists.”
But if they’re not afraid yet, they should be.
What we need to do now is keep up the global pressure on the American president and his cohorts, to continue to let them know that what they are doing is not OK. We need to continue to emphasise that women’s rights are human rights, that all people are equal, and a woman absolutely, unequivocally, in all cases should be able to do whatever the hell she wants to do with her body, because it’s her body, her choice.
Yes, the US is an ocean away from New Zealand. But the country – for better or worse – has an outsized influence on world culture and events. If the cancer of misogyny takes root in America, there’s a good chance it will infect other nations – including this one. We can’t let that happen.
There’s a lot we can be proud of from the Women’s March, but it’s no time to rest on our proverbial laurels – not when even here in Aotearoa women, LGBT+ people, Māori, Pasifika, immigrants, racial minorities – basically anyone not a wealthy cisgender white man – are still fighting for equality. We need to keep pressing for action, agitating for change, and letting our local leaders know that what’s happening is not OK. And we need to do all we can to make sure that there’s never another president like Donald J. Trump.
So let’s keep being fierce. Let’s keep challenging patriarchal oppression. Let’s keep helping and lifting up those in need, even if it’s a gesture as simple as being there to be a shoulder for a friend to cry on. Let’s make not just New Zealand and America, but the entire world, great by promoting love and tolerance wherever we go and in whatever we do.
Among the things she said at the march, our editor Lizzie had this great line: “Our challenge as a movement is to stand up together.” How true that is.
She then closed her speech with this: “The future is feminist.”
Bloody right – so-called “alternative facts” be damned.
Note: Villainesse is adding a section called “what you can do” at the end of stories where appropriate. The goal is to empower readers with ways they can take action in the real and online worlds to encourage positive change.
What You Can Do
- Call out discrimination and bigotry whenever you see it or experience it, but remember not to put yourself in danger if you think it’s unsafe.
- Call, email or send a message or letter to your local Member of Parliament to tell them how you feel about the issues you feel passionate about.
- Be an ally to friends and family.
- Network, get together and organise.
- Read books like We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and similar works to learn more about feminism and human rights.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for support when you need it.