Women and Trump

Illustration by Gayathri Satheesh

Women's Rights in the Post-Trump Era

Being a woman in 2017 is different from being a woman in the past years. The tweets, the marches, they all point to the idea that feminism is changing.

Inequality. Objectification. Violence. Nothing unusual in the multitude of problems that women are confronted with now and have been for centuries. Women still struggle to be equally represented, secure opportunities and do whatever they want without being repressed. As activism becomes more and more accessible to women, I believe it is time to rethink notions of feminism.
You don’t have to be a specialist to acknowledge that something has changed in the way women position themselves vis-a-vis feminism after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. All the effort we have so far put into fighting gender discrimination has gone to waste, and we have turned back decades to when women and men were considered two different species. The tweets and the marches all point to the idea that feminism is changing. This year, more than ever, feminist movements seem to have coalesced for a single cause: to unite against the newly inaugurated president.
In light of these changes, being a woman in 2017 is different from being a woman in the past. Although the struggles are the same, the expectations and the stakes are different. I did a quick experiment to see if these expectations were available on the internet, and so I did a Google search with the keywords: woman in 2017. I got little information about women, their struggles or other issues — what showed up was one of the most highly-anticipated movies of the year, Wonder Woman.
This year, more than ever, I am aware of the presence of the wonder women among us. Mainstream feminist movements have failed to highlight issues like forced child marriage, genital mutilation, abduction and domestic violence. Surely I cannot be the only one that feels more motivated to write, talk and speak up about abnormal things that happen to women who have limited resources and education.
I am taken aback by the hatred espoused by one man. The recent Women’s March was under the spotlight as one of the most vocal feminist demonstrations in the history of the U.S., aiming to protect women's rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality and freedom of religion. Although a great initiative, the very controversial nature of the march made me wonder what its true purpose was. Was it only to counteract Trump’s statements against abortion, sexual assaults and misogyny by showing off the number of women who are ready to fight? If so, by perpetuating this portrayal of feminism, we undermine some other important aspects of feminism, whose principles are based on inclusivity regardless of race, ideology or political affiliation. The initial setup of the organizational team that wrote off the feminist group New Wave Feminists as a part of the march and that excluded black women are a threat to the inclusivity that feminism should provide.
Not surprisingly, it was enough for some marchers at the event to post selfies and put famous speakers on a pedestal to declare the march a success. However, in the aftermath of such a big event, there was no clear direction of what actions to pursue further. Another issue that struck me was the irony of the march: the social divisiveness that Trump has spread divided the feminist camp into black and white, pro-life and pro-abortion, good feminists and bad feminists.
Don’t get me wrong. I do support women’s rights and feminist principles and I am deeply aware of the fact that I can vote and express myself thanks to the legacy of the suffragettes. I owe the right to wear trousers, drive a car, speak up and be independent to all the heroines that fought to even out the society and make it as it is now. But if the purpose of this march was to fight back with hatred the actions of a man that we are afraid of, then call me a bad feminist, because I don’t care about women’s causes in response to Trump’s misogyny.
I figure, then, that I am a very bad feminist because I don’t think that branding ourselves as feminists who wave anti-Trump slogans leads to a breakthrough — instead, we’d make a better change by acting together as a wide community brought together by feelings of compassion for women in need. In fact, call me the worst feminist, if as a feminist you only advocate for US American women’s rights, and you overlook the female citizens of countries where Trump and human rights are chimeras above the horizon.
It is crucial not to respond to hatred with hatred. We have to set our goals for feminism and gender equality outside of the language of Trump and look toward equality and independence. This is what I wish we could understand by saying simply: Woman.
Daria Zăhăleanu is Deputy Opinion Editor. Email her at feedback@thegazelle.org
gazelle logo