THE BLOG

After The Women's March, Our Need For Solidarity Is Stronger Than Ever

23/01/2017 16:56
Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

On 21 January 2017, the world witnessed a total of 673 international protests and a turnout of roughly two million participants to Women's Marches. These significant and uplifting demonstrations were both in response to Trump's controversial inauguration and to re-assert the notion that "women's rights are human rights".

Yet the motivations of the Women's Marches were not as simple as they may have looked on paper. Some marched for reproductive rights, some in response to Islamophobia. Women marched so that their voices may be heard, though each voice said something different.

This said, it's important to remember that these differences need not separate us. Positive movements such as feminism should, ideally, display no barriers between race, background, belief or sexuality, but rather solidarity amongst the diversities that define us.

As She Speaks, We Hear founder Akeela Ahmed argues: "We may not agree on all issues, but when faced overwhelmingly with the prospect that our fundamental rights to exist are being threatened, it does not matter. Critically, many unified voices will be much more effective and powerful in sending a message to those who would seek to divide, that we will not allow a climate of fear and hatred to overcome us."

And this climate of fear is incredibly real. In the ten days after Trump's election, major newspapers reported a notable increase in hate crimes, with Michigan in particular experiencing 65 times more such crimes than usual. More broadly, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported a total of 867 hate crimes during this period, and blamed this increase on the xenophobic, Islamophobic and misogynistic rhetoric used by Trump in his electoral campaign.

The majority of these attacks specifically targeted both immigrants (289 incidents - around a third of the total) and African Americans (180 incidents - 23%), with references to lynching and building 'the wall' characterising a majority of threats.

Anti-LGBT crimes also spiked, and made up 11% of total attacks. Such incidents were reported in eight states, with homophobic slurs spray-painted or carved onto people's properties, while Pride flags in New York were burned still attached to buildings. Many focussed on the supposed threat of same sex marriage - a right that the Western LGBT community only somewhat recently gained.

On top of this, attacks against Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslims) made up 6% of the hate crimes in this post-election period. Muslim Americans are often labelled terrorists, with women wearing hijabs being particularly vulnerable to verbal and physical assault.

And this doesn't just apply to Americans, either. While the statistics offered by the SPLC focus on US incidents, the high profile nature of Trump's rise to power and the views he openly expressed on his journey to it are reflected worldwide, particularly here in the UK.

Of course, I am unable to singlehandedly offer a solution to all of the above, but it's necessary to keep this dialogue open to ensure that the Women's March on Washington and those which took place world-wide will not just go down in history as tokenistic and futile gestures.

If this level of hate can be incited in just ten days after Trump's election (not even his inauguration), it is important that we are prepared to stand up against such ideologies and that we do so together. While it is indeed frustrating and, for some, life threatening, our combined efforts will serve as a necessary reminder that it is possible to exist alongside one another in solidarity, despite our differences.

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