Did hitting the streets in Women’s March of 2017 make a difference? It’s a good question.
Here we are, exactly one year later, and none of us could have imagined even half of what has taken place in the last twelve months, especially in the women department. With movements like #metoo and #timesup, we have unearthed the seamy underbelly of sexual abuse, pressure and harassment that many of us face at work–or in the world at large–and America’s psyche has shifted, in visible and invisible ways. And because we banded together in big numbers–just like we did in the Women’s March–we morphed too, from individuals being abused into a force to be reckoned with.
The Impact of the Women’s March
Politically speaking, there have been some proud moments as well: African American women in Alabama delivered a knockout punch at the polls to alleged sexual predator Roy Moore; Kamala Harris refused to be silenced during her questioning of deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; Senators Collins and Murkowski, both female Republicans, were instrumental in saving Obamacare, while Dianne Feinstein released the transcripts of the Fusion GPS testimony to the Senate about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, when no other Senators would.
And 2018 looks to be an exciting year, as more women signed up to run for office in 2017 than ever before. With midterms in the not-too-far distance, let’s keep encouraging one another to speak out, stand up, and march for our right to be heard.
On other cultural fronts, women–and especially women of color–helped to redefine our concepts of female beauty and power:
Halima Aden, born in a Kenyan refugee camp and brought up in Minnesota, became the first model ever to don a hijab on the cover of a major beauty magazine.
Rihanna struck gold with Fenty, her own fantastic make-up line, with 40 shades of foundation.
Stock image companies like Colorstock, Dreamtime, Nappy and Blend entered the market, helping to bring more diversity to the faces we see on the internet.
Let’s not forget the media: Vanity Fair’s new editor-in-chief is the multi-talented Radhika Jones, daughter of an Indian mother and an American father.
The New York Times
HBO’s Insecure secured a second season for the inimitable Issa Rae.
TIME magazine gave its Person of the Year distinction to The Silence Breakers.
It may never be possible to measure, but we believe that by hitting the streets last year–in our awesome pussy hats–we made a huge impact. We sent a message to one another that we are not alone, that we connect with one another, and that we will not be ignored.
The Women’s March on Washington this Saturday is expected to be one of the most historical moments we will witness in our lifetimes. Throngs of women and some brave men (approximately 200,000) in the U.S. and all over the world are flying to D.C. to protest our newly elected demagogue. The turnout for the march is expected to outnumber the main event and upstage Trump’s inauguration. Attendees will suffer the cold (and the wrath of political foes) in order to make a physical–and symbolic–display of resistance.
But will it achieve anything? In a world of instant messaging, media echo chambers and all of us living within our own digital bubbles, does banding together—no matter how many of us do it—really effect change?
Well, maybe we need to look at history and the role that pissed-off women have played:
No Hanky Panky For You
In one of North America’s first feminist rebellions, the women of the Iroquois nation conducted a “sex strike,” withholding nooky from their men in order to gain veto power about going to war. And guess what? It worked. Iroquois women were brought to the table and had their voices heard. Pretty clever stuff for the 1600s.
“Cult of Womanhood”
In 1848, the modern women’s suffrage movement began when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other lady upstarts got together in Seneca Falls, New York, for the country’s first Women’s Rights Convention. Although national voting rights weren’t secured until the passing of the 19th amendment in 1920, these ladies were passionate, patient and tough.
During the Civil War, determined–and hungry–women in the South conducted what are now known as the Food Riots, or Southern Bread Riots, invading and looting shops and stores. Although they arrived for food, some were caught stealing clothes and even jewelry. Can you blame a girl for wanting to look good?
Imprisoned… But Never Silenced
In 1917, thirty-three members of the National Women’s Party, who picketed regularly in front of the White House for their right to vote, were rounded up and imprisoned on November 14th. In what is now referred to as the Night of Terror, they were beaten and tortured for daring to express themselves. Eventually, every single one of them was released and charges were dropped, and we think they deserve TMB’s Bravery award.
Shut Your Drunk A$$
If you still think women have no sway over social change, consider Prohibition. Countless ladies, tired of being abused at the hands of drunken husbands, became the Christian Women’s Temperance Union and helped to push the no-alcohol agenda that eventually became federal law from 1920 to 1933. Carrie Nation, a famous Temperance Union member, was known to take a brick bats, rocks and other weapons to the windows of saloons, terrorizing their occupants with her gang of lady activists. We do not condone this behavior, but must admit it was badass.
My Body, My Choice
From second-wave feminists agitating for Roe v. Wade, to the women of Liberia conducting a sex strike to stop their country’s bloody civil war, women banding together makes a difference. It can take years, or even decades, but history bears out that when women come to the table, things get better.
Don’t Ever Mess With Planned Parenthood
When the Susan G. Komen Foundation–which raises money for breast cancer prevention and treatment–decided to withhold its donations to Planned Parenthood in a nod to its pro-life donors, women on Facebook delivered a swift, online smack-in-the-face. Within three days, the Foundation re-committed to its PP funding, and the pink cybermob backed off.
The Women’s March… What Will It Do?
As Malcolm Gladwell wrote: “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips and spreads like wildfire.” We at TMB think a tipping point is upon us; with 616 marches transpiring in the U.S., and reportedly more than a million sister marchers overseas (hello London, Riyadh, Seoul and Geneva!) we will send an important message on Saturday—to ourselves, to our men and to the rest of the world—that millions of clever females are on alert, willing to march shoulder to shoulder, ready to deploy our power. I feel a tipping… don’t you?
It remains to be seen whether this weekend’s march will bring immediate legislative results, but history has shown us that women, when we are good and pissed off, make change happen. Whether our subsequent protests take place on the internet, on Capitol Hill or in our bedrooms, we have a voice, and we have the numbers, and we know it.
So the world had better beware: the sleeping lioness is awake, and this weekend, she’s gonna roar like never before.
This post has been updated from January 20th, 2017.