A proper response to those calling the Women’s March a mob


I’m proud of the number of women that showed up in defense of Dr. Ford. I’m proud to have had some part of their protest on the steps of the Supreme Court. I’m proud that the Women’s March is still fighting for survivors. However, I would like to offer my opinion on what they should have responded when Trump called them “the mob.”

I understand the attempt to tamper the speeches of men who would vilify them for committing acts of disobedience, for risking arrest and putting their bodies on the line. But, to the eyes of the oppositional parties and hard-right/alt-rights that have pushed their contempt of these women as mobs, as violent and dangerous, there is no way of appealing to their common sense.

There is no point in responding in long soliloquys about the beauty of the movement or the struggles that each woman faces because of the dangers of the Trump administration. The email sent to me ends touchingly, “This is who we are, who you are, Nichole: Moms, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, sisters. We’re regular women, survivors and allies from cities and suburbs, and rural areas—who believe in our country, and are determined to make it better”. It’s supposed to better ground the public’s understanding about who these angry women are and what they’re trying to accomplish. They’re simply trying to protect themselves and empower the women around them. That won’t work.

Here’s my proper response to the Trump administration and all the Republicans who shake their heads and declaim that the Women’s March is violent, unruly, that women are hysterical, and that we should continue towards civility when protesting the dismantlement of our rights: f*ck you.

Let me say that once again, clearly. F*ck you.

We don’t have to respond to an egotistical Twitter happy rapist and rape apologist. We don’t have to respond to the smiling Southern gentlemen shtick while he demands cuts to entitlements that we’ve paid into for years. We shouldn’t respond to the calls about our violent tactics while children have been separated from their parents, put into cages, abused and forcibly injected with psychotropic drugs. We should not and cannot legitimize administrations that consider erasing the transgender community while dismissing domestic violence as a legitimate reason for seeking asylum in the United States, and the list goes on and on. The damage heaped upon women, minorities, youth, the LGTBQ communities every group population in this country that isn’t white men and privileged white women, is violence.

Where’s your explanation for the violent and dangerous mobs of men in government destroying the lives of so many?

Civility and the call for civility is dead. Don’t legitimize men who have only treated us with violence and death. Rage, be angry, and continue the fight. Don’t waste energy with emailing a response to your supporters, and certainly not your opponents, explaining who you really are. Your supporters already know, they already applaud you. Your opponents couldn’t care less.

 

(Photo Credit: ABC News)

The Women’s March: “Our march forward does not end here”

In this moment in which we see racism and State violence unleashed against some of us, the Muslim citizens of our world, let us return to an event that said NO to sexism and therefore racism. On January 21, the women’s march on Washington launched the day after the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. The march brought together a multitude of demonstrators in Washington DC as well as in every other major city in the US.  Additionally, sister marches in 100 other cities in the world were formed. According to the Women’s March organizers, about 5 million groups walked in unison that day.

In France, the march was preceded, on January 20th, by a “day of engagement with women” on France Culture, a public radio station, which called the event “the long march of women” and suggested that we are seeing a great leap behind. Each program addressed various sections of the struggle for women to be a full being, whether they had been revolutionary, colonized, proletarian, mothers, and the list went on.

While the march was not announced in many other media, the demonstration in Paris numbered in the tens of thousands. All the signs expressed the various feelings and worries about the struggles past and to come. For instance, one sign, held by an African American woman living in Paris, said “Impeach that creep” on one side and “vote out Le Pen” on the other.

Another sign, in French said, “Together against all the Trumps, visible or invisible, of France, the United States and of the world”.

 

The United States’ example reminded many that every right gained after long fights can always be threatened and dismantled by the patriarchal order like the right to sexual and reproductive health, including the right to have access to free abortion and contraception. For this reason, the French Movement for Family Planning was widely represented, knowing that although this right is part of the French constitution and actively enforced, the extreme right looms over it ready to use deceitful strategies to dismantle it.

We met with three young Americans, English teachers in Marseille, who came to Paris to demonstrate. They were from New York City; Richmond, Virginia; and Birmingham, Alabama. They talked about racism, inequality, and intersectionality. They sang, “We shall overcome.” We also met with Genevieve Fraisse, a renowned French philosopher and historian specializing in feminist thoughts. She reminded us of the importance of organizing and that she had been an active demonstrator before being a philosopher. She talked about disqualification rather than discrimination. Today with the official realization that refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim countries are banned, the notion of disqualification of some as not having the same quality as human beings as others resonates.

Here’s our interview with Genevieve Fraisse:

(Photos and interview by Brigitte Marti)

 

The Walling of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

I traveled with the NOW-NYC group to the march in D.C. on January 21. We felt exhilarated as we made our own signs and carried them up high for everyone to see. The colorful parade with its provocative banners against Trump and his team, signs that screamed out in protest of the new government violating our much fought for voter, reproductive, and civil rights, absorbed us and we were soon pushed toward the vicinity of the rally with its speakers lending their powerful language to further energize an already energetic crowd. The feeling of solidarity, the awfulness of the election of a President who was antithetical to every idea of justice Americans had fought for, the need to work together to handle this new beast—all of this was palpable.

As I was pushed into the thickest part of the crowd, I realized the crowd was sandwiched behind barricades on the corner of 4th and Independence to restrict them from flowing down Independence Avenue. Some of the women around me were fainting and had to be escorted by the national guardsmen into the medics’ tent. I focused on the speeches by Tammy Duckworth, followed by Black Lives Matter and Planned Parenthood, and I used all my willpower not to pass out when Alicia Keyes was speaking. It grew suffocating by the minute.

Some of us wove our way back toward C Street. The marchers reported that they were not allowed beyond 14th street. Why had Trump ordered us to be blocked away from the White House? As May Nazareno, one of the staff organizers for NOW-NYC said, “He is working for us. We need to take ownership of our democracy.”

Another thing many marching with me noted was the absence of helicopters and drones to maintain a count of the marchers. Why had Trump made this area a no-fly zone when only the previous day, drones and helicopters were making a tally of the number present at the inauguration?

As May Nazareno pointed out, not many reporters were present at the march compared with the barrage of media present at the inauguration. Why such a paucity of reporters?

So, we need to do the job of the media and post on Facebook, write blogs and articles of our eyewitness accounts of the march, become historians and document everything and respond to issues as they arise, because an authoritarian government’s main task is to curtail democracy and free speech and twist truth and replace reality with falsehoods.

What I witnessed was the immediacy of unity, peace, justice, awareness of issues, sensitivity, kindness, wit, humor, and love. And these we can build on to save the country from falling apart.

(Photo Credit: Chang W. Lee / The New York Times) (Audio interview with May Nazareno conducted by author)

The murdered mothers of Côte d’Ivoire continue their march

On Thursday, March 3, 2011, there was a women’s march for peace in Abobo, a suburb of Abidjan, in Côte d’Ivoire.  This was not the first women’s peace march in Côte d’Ivoire. In the past weeks, the violence of the `stalemate’ has both increased and intensified. Neighborhoods are regularly tear gassed, houses invaded, men taken off. One side attacks, the other responds with either greater force or at the very least with the threat of greater force. Barricades are met with tanks, tanks are met with paving stones or with petrol bombs. Blood flows, and then more blood flows.

The women of Côte d’Ivoire have lived through this. They have lived through the intensification and expansion of violence before. They have lived through the increase and intensification of sexual violence as well. They have experienced rape used as a weapon of war, in not so distant times of `civil strife’ and of `national stalemate’.

The women of Côte d’Ivoire have lived through incarceration at the infamous Maison d’Arrêt et de Correction, or MACA, reputed to be one of the worst on the African continent. They have lived through the torture, the massacres, the brutality, the lethal conditions of MACA, where any sentence is a virtual death sentence. They have lived through the brief improvement of conditions, only to see them deteriorate into even worse depravity. The women of Côte d’Ivoire know the meaning of `civil strife’, of `national stalemate’, of mass and targeted detention.

And so they have organized. They have organized women’s marches, peaceful marches, marches of peace.

The women march because they do not want to become the mourning mothers, nor do they want to become the grieving widows. They know there is an alternative. They march for an immediate cessation of the violence, in their own names, in the names of their children and of their partners.

Last Friday, February 25, 2011, the women of Treichville, a district of Abidjan, organized a march. They marched “to liberate our husbands and children.” Five hundred or so women marched, with whistles, banging pots and pans. They were followed by the security forces. Men armed to the teeth surrounded the women on both sides. The women sat down in the street then, and shouted, “”Tirez-nous dessus, qu’on en finisse!” Roughly translated: “Attack us then, and be done with it.” And with that, the women took off their clothes. They sat in the street, naked, and dared the police, the armed forces, the paramilitaries, to come forward. They sat naked in the street, and they said, “So much blood has flowed. We have nothing to lose. We are not afraid to die. We are not afraid of you. We are not afraid of men with guns.”

Six days later, on Thursday, the women of Abobo took to the streets.

Suddenly, tanks appeared, men with guns appeared, gunfire exploded, women ran for shelter, and seven fell, dead. According to one eyewitness, “We were slaughtered. Eight women, including a pregnant woman, were killed on the spot. During the shooting, a bullet blew open the head of one of the victims. It was the first time I had seen someone’s brains out. As for the pregnant woman, her belly literally exploded. We have no idea why they shot at us. We were just a gathering of women, nothing else but women.”

Men with guns, men with tanks, fear women with whistles and pots and pans. Men with guns fear women’s autonomy, they fear an alternative to the exclusive power of violence. Why else would they murder the innocents? The murdered women of Côte d’Ivoire continue to march, continue to blow their whistles and bang on their pots and pans, continue to sit down in the streets, continue to strip naked, continue to demand their bodies be recognized, continue to demand the peace of justice, the justice of peace. Those women, the women of Côte d’Ivoire, haunt the world.

 

(Photo Credit: France 24 / AldoLaClass)