Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Progress in the feminist movement after a year of Trump

Countless instances of misogynistic, hateful and mean-spirited comments made by President Donald Trump have plagued his presidency ever since he took office a year ago. His election into office fueled the nation-wide Women’s March that took place around this time last year. In Boston, more than 100,000 marchers came together to stand in solidarity against Trump’s offensive and derogatory remarks toward and about women.

Now, as we head into our second year with Trump, we’ve only seen more misogyny and bigotry. From a president with a history of calling women fat and ugly and insulting an innumerable amount of female celebrities and news anchors, it felt like no matter how hard women fought for an end to sexism and pushed for equality, the more they felt silenced and overpowered.

While this year’s Women’s March, which took in place in Cambridge, attracted more than 5,000 people, it undoubtedly took on a different tone than its predecessor. Marchers and organizers channeled their anger with Trump’s administration into a hopeful call for change. Even the name of the march, “The People Persist,”  had a message of unity and determination — themes that held true throughout the day.

The speakers, many of whom were women in local government, including Sumbul Siddiqui, Cambridge’s first Muslim city councilor, themselves were a representation of the change demanded by feminist organizations ever since Trump’s election. In fact, more than 26,000 women reached out to Emily’s List in the past year, a national organization helping pro-choice, democratic women run for office, according to The Boston Globe, striving to make waves in legislation that bars women from being on an equal playing field with men.

This year’s march, though smaller in number, was more inclusive than the one before it. While last year’s march was criticized for having too narrow of a definition of a woman, the 2018 march cast a wider net for the female identity. Many critics of last year’s event found the march to be exclusive of transgender women and too focused on white feminism. However, the Cambridge march made a tangible effort to include a variety of voices, highlighting people of color and individuals from the transgender community.

Trump’s recent remarks on “shithole countries” only added to the anti-Trump sentiment, especially for immigrants and minorities. The march addressed that women’s rights go hand in hand with minority issues, especially when Trump is causing so many of both.

This year also saw the rise of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, which seek to hold men accountable for their actions and make it clear that sexual harassment is unacceptable. Accounts from women describing their encounters with the men who have assaulted and harassed them has made the women’s movement personal and strengthened its cause. The ever-growing list of the accused has made it clear that this goes beyond one man — this sexism is systemic, and in order to make progress, we must go after the system that finds these behaviors OK.

We saw a lot of progress in 2017. Women started making waves in local government and positions of political authority. And while this by no means is closing the gender gap between men and women — in so many spheres, especially our government, it is still a man’s world — it certainly is a step in the right direction. Even those women who did lose to male candidates still stay engaged in politics and are even hopeful for running in the next election.

And while Trump’s words and actions have been horrible and harmful, this year has certainly been a unifying moment in this new surge of feminism. Women have come together against men in power, but more importantly women are supporting each other. The tide has changed, and 2017 was the year of women becoming stronger and less accepting of the sexism that surrounds them.

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