As a white, American female, the sight and sound of Trump sickens me. I am proud of my fellow citizens who are out there fighting for equality and speaking out against hatred. I have much respect for those getting involved in the political process and participating through freedom of speech and protesting.
At the same time, something about this Women’s March hasn’t been sitting right with me. The more I’ve thought of it, the more I’ve realized something about it and myself. This march is born of American/Western privilege, convenience, and ignorance.
I think, we are missing the point. The rally misses the point. I’ve missed the point. And, we Americans [Westerners] have missed the point. Hear me out.
When is enough enough? When are women, minorities, and victims of persecution in need of a march or in need of people around the world to put pressure on government officials? When do the rights of women and minorities need defending? When has the line been crossed enough for us to do something on this scale? When should we cry out against injustice the loudest?
- When a British tourist is gang raped in Dubai, arrested, fined, awaiting trial, and unable to return home?
- When 24 women are raped in Germany on New Year’s Eve?
- When in India, a 10 year old girl resists gang rape, and her attackers pour kerosene on her, light her on fire, dump her in a dry well, and leave her to die?
- When globally, nearly 21 million adults and children are bought and sold as sex slaves?
- When 200 million women worldwide have been forced to undergo female genital mutilation, most of those procedures done before the age of five?
- When in Jordan, honor killings still occur?
- When in Saudi Arabia, men still rule over their female relatives?
- When in Palestine, 26 women were killed by their families?
- When marital rape is still not a criminal offense in multiple countries, and when the laws are not enforced in even more?
- When in at least 20 countries, domestic violence is still not a crime?
- When a woman is forced into seclusion for days during/because of her menstrual cycle, and then dies?
- When today, over 700 million women have been married as child-brides?
- Or when a misogynist is elected president of one of the leading [Western] countries of the world?
I could go on and on, but only one of these violations was enough to get the Western world, the Western women, to rally together. The march claims that it’s “not about Trump,” but why only now is there a global women’s march while all the other tragedies above have played out, ignored for years by those of us in the West? And why isn’t any of this being mentioned and discussed today? Despite the website’s claim that, “this isn’t about Trump per se,” the inception of this rally didn’t occur until after the 2016 election results came in.
This march is not about the marginalized, the oppressed, the abused, or the hurting.
It is about privilege. It is about Western. It is about white. It is about Trump.
Maybe it’s the words in Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong, that have been bouncing around in my head as I’ve fought with the realization of my unearned privilege.
“I can choose to be bothered when it suits me. I don’t have to live this every day.”
When Western women and their ideals felt threatened by the election of Trump, they rallied together around the world. Not in response to the millions and millions of victims who are suffering worldwide, but because some of the most privileged women and minorities in the world fear what Trump represents.
Yet, there are suffering women, suffering men, suffering children all around the world, and their fear is not fear of a “could be,” but what has been, what is, and what will be tomorrow. To them, there is no escape. There is no hope. Why are these people not even being mentioned, and why don’t they matter?
We, the privileged West, have the luxury of choosing to acknowledge these heinous crimes, the freedom to make our own choices, the right to vote, and the option of rallying together to protest against Trump and his sexism and fascism, but even this is an American/Western definition.
Where is the global rally to fight for those who wake up every day fighting for their lives? Why don’t they matter? Why is their suffering not real?
Women and minorities in the US suffer everyday, yes, and I don’t mean to minimize that suffering, but at the same time, we are one of the most privileged groups of people, one of the most privileged groups of women, and one of the most privileged groups of minorities in the world. It feels like the end of the world to have a man of Trump’s caliber and character in the presidential office, but at the end of the day, few things are going to change for us in the US, and our privileges are not going to be taken away. Instead, we have the option, the luxury, of choosing to fear “what could be.”
But, after a year, or probably less, this fight will be archived and people will be at home, going about their business. Likewise, the people who are living in a place of true injustice will continue being forgotten as they continue living in anguish, fear, and isolation in a very vivid present, never given voices, never given the chance to proclaim their suffering.
If we truly wanted to change this world, to protect women and the marginalized, why aren’t we using a day like today, with rallies and protests across every continent, to give a voice to the voiceless, the oppressed, and those who cannot defend themselves? What laws could we inspire? What countries would feel pressure? What would leaders and politicians start changing?