Gender and Sexuality Column

The last time a women’s march on Washington was as big as Saturday’s is projected to be, it was 1913. Here’s why that’s extraordinary.

Emmy Gnat | Head Illustrator

The weather outside may be frightful, but it doesn’t hold a candle to President-elect Donald Trump’s impending presidency.

He’s called us bimbos. Pigs. Dogs. “A young and beautiful piece of ass.Gold diggers. He’s said that intelligence and beauty are mutually exclusive attributes. We’ve been rated for how desirable our bodies are, how desperately men would want to have sex with us. He’s told us that breastfeeding is disgusting, and that “it must be a pretty picture” to see women on their knees. He’s argued that sexual assault is the result of cohabitation, and that women who have had abortions ought to be legally punished.

He blamed campaign opponent Hillary Clinton for her inability to “satisfy” her husband, former President Bill Clinton, leading to his infidelities. He said Clinton had neither the “look” nor the “stamina” fit for the presidency. He openly joked about “grabbing women by the p*ssy.”

And on Friday, this man will become the 45th president of the United States.

Following Trump’s unprecedented election victory, women around the nation and the world were left in resounding shock and dismay, wondering how a man who has so heinously belittled and degraded women could be fit to lead a country boasting a 50 percent female population.

The desire to take action spread like wildfire, birthing the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. On Saturday, the day after Trump takes the oath of office, a group of about 200,000 women will march from the Lincoln Memorial to the front lawn of the White House. Their aim is to fulfill the campaign’s mission statement “to come together in solidarity to express to the new administration and Congress that women’s rights are human rights and our power cannot be ignored.”

The march is a peaceful assembly of women across the nation advocating for the protection of women’s reproductive, political and social rights. It is not an anti-Trump rally. Rather, it’s a collective and unified force demanding that the federal government works to serve all citizens’ needs — not just the ones without uteruses.

“The Women’s March is more than an anti-Trump march. It will send the message that we are watching and we will be vigilant and active,” said Silvia Gianelli Macor, who organized the woman conducting the central New York chapter of the march, in a Facebook message. “We need to let them know that they are accountable to all Americans, not just their supporters.”

What began as a small Facebook group created by a handful of women and a dream has resulted in a global phenomenon composed of 370 marches across 39 countries and supported by more than 694,000 women around the world. More than 160 people affiliated with the march’s central New York chapter will attend the march, according to the group’s Facebook page.

From birth control and Planned Parenthood funding to sexual assault prevention and equal pay, the march serves as a moment to reflect on the history of women’s rights advocacy in the U.S., as well as looking forward in pursuit of intersectional gender equality of the sexes.

Civil rights activists Dolores Huerta and Harry Belafonte will join legendary feminist activist Gloria Steinem as honorary co-chairs of the event, which will also feature appearances from celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson, Uzo Aduba, Julianne Moore, Cher, Katy Perry and Zendaya, among others.

To put the significance of the march into perspective, the last time a group of women this large led a march on D.C., President Woodrow Wilson was entering into power in 1913 and women were rallying for their right to vote, according to USA Today.

More than a century later, as we enter a new wave of politics and feminist activism, it’s important that we hold politicians accountable for their actions and words. Trump may see us as merely dogs, but we’ve got enough bark and bite to defend ourselves these next four years.

Kelsey Thompson is a sophomore magazine journalism major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at katho101@syr.edu.

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