Reflections on the Women’s March

On January 21st, millions around the world came together in protest on Day Two of Donald Trump’s presidency.  While powerful and important, progressiveness can always be improved upon. Our editors look back on this massive demonstration and discuss where our activism must go from here.

Shailee Koranne | Opinions Editor

There was a Women’s March protest on virtually every continent—even Antarctica—yet the protests seemed homogenous, unwelcoming, and even theatrical.

Most of the photos I’ve seen of the Women’s March show a sea of white women wearing pink hats and carrying signs saying things like “pussy grabs back.” These statements emphasize the idea that the women most affected by Trump and right-wing voters are cisgender and white. However, that couldn’t be further from reality.

I admire women standing up for reproductive rights and standing against sexual assault and “locker room talk.” Only a few days into his presidency, Trump has already implemented anti-choice laws that are putting women at risk. The question I have for these women is:

Who are you marching for?

The cisnormative nature of the march, as well as its inaccessibility to people with disabilities, and the sheer whiteness of it all was upsetting. If you’re fighting for reproductive rights, but carrying signs that equate womanhood with having a vagina, you’re not marching for women. If you were outraged at Trump when the infamous tapes of him boasting about sexual assault leaked, but weren’t entirely fussed when he was having Hijabi women escorted out of his rallies, you’re not marching for women.

A majority of white women voted for Donald Trump, and nothing—not one march, and especially not a goddamn pussy hat—will absolve white women for their complacency in Trump’s election. So, if you marched, and hopefully plan to continue marching, think about the women who are getting left behind in your dust—the ones whose voices should be at the front.

Illustration | Varvara Nedilska

Elena Senechal-Becker | Arts & Culture Editor

On January 21st, I made my way down to Queen’s Park with a friend. We managed to get close to the front of the crowd, as we had arrived early to hear the speakers. It stretched all the way to College Street, and I was really happy to witness such a big turnout, especially knowing that this was happening simultaneously in cities all over the world. There were some beautifully decorated, clever, and inspiring signs held across the park, and the March organizers led us in chants such as, “This is what diversity looks like.”

Looking around me, I have to admit that I was constantly taken aback by the amount of signs that equated womanhood with genitals or periods. Not only does this seem oddly reductive, it doesn’t take into account trans women, or women who do not get their periods. It is crucial for us not to forget these women, as they are some of the most oppressed under Trump’s regime. I understand the need to push back against one of Trump’s most odious statements, “grab her by the pussy,” which has become a symbol of his misogyny and lack of respect for women. Phrases like “pussy grabs back” and the pink wool “pussy hats” have become increasingly popular in the fight against Trump’s policies and character. However, I don’t see the need to center feminism around one’s genitalia.  It is common for white cisgender women to center their own needs above those of all others, and I definitely got a sense of that at the March.

I remember one of my favourite signs at the March featured an Audre Lorde quote: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” More of this, please.

Illustration | Varvara Nedilska

Erin Calhoun | News Editor

The significance of the Women’s March lies in that it was more than just a championing of women’s rights. Individuals all over North America and the rest of the world gathered to protest the rights that Donald Trump’s presidency threatens. The day was monumental, whether you were in attendance at the march or watching history being made through photos and hashtags, but we must consider what is next to come. Those opposed to Trump’s racist and sexist rhetoric began to think, “Where do we go following the march?”

As stellar and triumphant as it was to witness millions hoisting signs promoting resilience and respect, the fight is far from over. Social movements require political parties to implement change, much like The Great Society. The resilience of the people will create a united front, and propel forward the ideals that America envisions. The echoes of the people must continuously carry and challenge society.

Illustration | Varvara Nedilska

Molly Kay | Arts & Culture Editor

The morning of the march, my roommate and I bumped into our friend’s mother on our way to Queen’s Park. She was proudly carrying a sign that read: “EQUALITY & COMPASSION FOR ALL #WHYIMARCH” on one side and “HEAR ME ROAR” on the other. As soon as she saw us, she ran over to us and gave us both a big hug. “I’m so glad I bumped into you two,” she began, “Young women like you are the reason I’m here walking today.”

The turnout was incredible—tens of thousands of people gathered in solidarity to participate in the Toronto Women’s March. Yet as empowering as this experience was, I must add that I am very privileged to have been able to participate in this protest. The fact remains that many people were unable to attend the march due to many reasons, including, but not limited to, mental illness and lack of safety. All of which, are valid and further solidify why we need protests like the Women’s March in the first place. Feminism doesn’t exist without intersectionality, and your activism cannot end just because the march is over. As more issues arise, given the state of our current political climate, it’s more important than ever that we stand together in resistance.

Illustration | Varvara Nedilska

Tamilore Oshodi | Features Editor

With what may be the largest demonstration in U.S. history, leaving some hopeful for the years ahead, the Women’s March highlighted major feats that the country has yet to overcome. While I am fully in awe of the immense turnout for such an important cause, I still took it all with a grain of salt.

I watched throngs of people march in unison and was bemused, as I was fully aware that the majority of protesters were white women—52% of this same demographic voted for the new president of the United States. Where were they when the voices of female unity were needed in the times of struggle for women of colour? Or, is the march suddenly more important than those of the past because the consequences of their choices are suddenly glaring at them?

Unfortunately, I observed “white feminism” in action as their cries of female unity rung hollow. Where was such a stance in the protests that followed the deaths of Sandra Bland and others, which were seen as disturbances and a menace to the peace of their days? Women of colour did just what was called unto them—they voted correctly and they were let down; they came out in spite of being left in the lurch. The American people are fully aware of their great ability to rally against worthy causes but hopefully, with this success, it can permeate through the concerns of all kinds of people in the nation.

Personally, as I am forced to treat the issues that arise with being a woman, I am also left to deal with those of being a person of colour. I don’t believe one issue can be more pertinent over the other, but the voices questioning them should never be hushed. It is, only if when all women actively address and fight for issues that pertain to those of different colors and backgrounds, that we can say we have truly stood as a unit and are finally able to fight all that comes our way.