I am not the kind of person who marches or protests and if you’d told me a year ago that I would be marching in a demonstration against a newly elected U.S. president, I would have called you crazy.
But there I was, with my spouse, sister and a friend joining an estimated 60,000 others at the Women’s March on Washington – Toronto.
It was nothing short of inspiring and uplifting, something many of us sorely needed in these gloomy January days and after hearing Trump’s even darker inaugural address. There were women and men of all ages – more men than I expected, actually – children and teenagers, people of all races and walks of life.
There were young girls with “We rise” signs and a 90-year-old woman in a wheelchair with “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this s---.”
The signs were clever, positive, defiant and many were vulgar because they used words the man now sitting in the Oval Office (has he coated it in gaudy gold yet?) has said himself when bragging about his treatment of women.
“Nasty women get stuff done”
“We shall overcomb”
“This is what a feminist looks like” (carried by men, women and children)
“Because it is 2017” (carried by a middle-aged bearded guy in a Maple Leafs jersey)
The whole event actually felt much more celebratory than angry. Those who crammed the lawn of Queen’s Park, a sea dotted with pink knitted hats, seemed to take energy and inspiration from the size of the crowd and the feeling of togetherness in a common cause.
There was no violence, no vandalism, no confrontations, not even litter left behind on the lawn. As the crowd pushed forward to the street, the marchers apologized for bumping into one another.
I’m guessing that most of those in attendance had never been part of a protest before. But these are extraordinary times.
The gathering was an affirmation of the power of people peacefully demanding that their voices be heard. Trump will get no free pass among these resisters.
I can’t help but think this event has unleashed a new wave of activism, a craving for challenging of irresponsible power, a new respect for the role of a fair and independent press seeking truth, and a proud revival of the feminist label that has been beaten, battered and abandoned by many.
When we got home and saw the massive marches in U.S. cities and around the world, it only made us more thankful we had participated in a historic moment. People marched in every U.S. state, Antarctica and Reykjavik, Nigeria and India.
But then I made the monumental mistake of reading comments on some news stories. I really should know better.
Of course as always the disaffected, angry trolls were out in full force spreading their normal misogyny from the shallow end of the gene pool. It’s not worth responding to but its existence highlights the need for women to march.
Among the recurring themes of critics of the march itself:
What’s the point? It won’t make a difference.
That’s right, demonstrations and rallies and protests and uprisings have never had an affect on human history. You might want to crack a book.
I’m a woman and I’m not a victim of anyone. Stop blaming others for your problems.
Not one person I saw was complaining of victimhood. In fact, the message for those bothering to listen, was one of defiance and fortitude. Women won’t accept any regression in their equality and Trump’s administration will be challenged every step of the way. As many signs said: Silence is not an option.
Why do you need to march at all? Go home and be quiet.
Well, the very same was said to women fighting for the vote and the right for control of their own bodies. But as the old saying goes: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”
Stop whining. Trump won.
Yep, he did. He’s the president but that doesn’t give him licence to do as he pleases or to continue spreading division, hate and dishonesty. The message was sent (whether it was received is an entirely different matter) that millions in the U.S. and around the world will demand better.
This is American politics. The world should just stay out of it.
Trump’s impact on the world could be enormous. The man has the nuclear codes, for gawd’s sakes and consistently displays a thin-skinned, impulsive narcissism that is terrifying in a man of such power. He’s fostered fear and suspicion of Muslims and Mexicans, refused to reject the message of white supremacist groups, and has an unnerving connection to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s brand of anti-immigrant nationalism is rearing its ugly head in many parts of the world.
He’s vowing to renegotiate vital trade deals, pull out of international cooperative organizations and put forward an “America first” agenda. His view of the international world seems to be one of suspicion.
So, yes, global citizens have a right to be worried. Lots of Americans live in ignorance of the world in which they live. We don't get that luxury when it comes to Trump.
– Meredith MacLeod