There is usually a honeymoon period after a US presidential election, a time when the new guy can do no wrong; when Americans are happy with their choice and they allow him to get on with the business of governing the country. However, the 45th president, Donald J. Trump, will have to be content with the honeymoons he has already experienced with his three wives. The unprecedented mass “Women’s March” protests
held all over the world the day after his inauguration made it perfectly clear that the new woman in his life, the female American electorate, will be watching him very closely. No honeymoon in sight for the new President. (In fact, his third wife, Melania, has already left Washington DC to return to New York to take care of her “Mom” duties.)
For a man who has tweeted his way into the Presidency, it seems only fitting that the Women’s March Movement started with a social media facebook invitation. Teresa Shook, a retired attorney and resident of Hawaii, invited forty of her friends to a March on Washington with one little click. Twenty-four hours later, that one click turned into a group with thousands of names.
The DC crowd itself was estimated at about 500,000 participants; over 700,000 people participated in Los Angeles (the biggest turn-out). More than 5 million women activists around the world, including 7,000 women in Paris, used the morning after the inauguration to come together and “send a bold message to the new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”
If you saw any of the Women’s March photos, you most likely noticed a sea of pink hats bobbing on the horizon. Those hats come from the Los Angeles based “Pussyhat Project,” where knitters first began crafting little pink caps with cat ears as an angry rebuttal to Trump’s 2005 offensive remarks about grabbing women’s genitalia. Many of the celebrities who attended and performed at the Marches wore a pussyhat as a symbol of protection of women’s rights. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the stars in attendance: Helen Mirren, Gillian Anderson, Jane Fonda, Charlize Theron, Cher, John Legend, Alicia Keys, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Fran Drescher, Felicity Huffman, Amy Poelher, Madonna, Ashley Judd, Michael Moore and Scarlett Johansson. When you consider that celebrities were conspicuously absent from the Presidential Inauguration ceremony and celebration, you have an idea of how divided the USA has become.
But you might wonder why French women (and men)came out in support of this American demonstration. I mean, what happens in the USA stays in the USA, right? Wrong! Quite a few women who were interviewed at the Paris March stated that the subject of women’s rights concerns the whole world. The French have seen female reproductive rights put into jeopardy once again in Poland, Spain and Portugal when those neighboring countries elected conservative leaders. France will be electing a new President this spring and women are worried about the National Front Candidate,
Marine Le Pen, coming into power. Mme Le Pen is an avid supporter of President Trump. At a recent, unprecedented meeting of Europe’s rightwing party leaders, she was quoted as saying, “His position on Europe is clear. He
does not support a system of the oppression of peoples. 2016 was the year the Anglo-Saxon world woke up. I am certain 2017 will be the year when the people of continental Europe wake up.”
It’s strange that the organizers of the Parisian Women’s March also alluded to Trump’s election as being a wake-up call for France. We’ll just have to wait and see which side wakes up first.