After The Women’s March, Now What?
The Women’s March in NYC the day after the Inauguration was monumental. By now you’ve heard about the unity, solidarity, and strength felt by many as they participated in the march with hundreds of thousands of other similarly-outraged people–250,000 people, approximately–and millions more in cities across the country and the world.
There’s a lot that’s already been said about those feelings, and I will add to that very briefly by saying that yeah, it did feel really goddamned great to be surrounded by people screaming cunt-laden “fuck you’s” to Donald Trump’s terrible ass (and even better because we all sort of could predict how much it was going to rattle his little baby ego). It felt good to see people standing and shouting for women. It felt good to stand and shout for women. It felt good to feel less alone in navigating the abject terror, anger, and straight up disbelief about the fact that a Kronenberg monster of fragile, toxic masculinity holds the highest office of the United States Government.
While I personally hate unified chanting (hasn’t turned out for my people well in the past, plus I wasn’t really in the mood to have some white dude in a “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” shirt shout commands at me through a megaphone) and while, due to the crowd, it was more standing in line and moving down one block for an hour and then another block for an hour and then another block for an hour than an actual march, it felt good to add a head to the count. It felt like a statement, and, to a certain extent, it was.
Afterward, my friends and I went home and got good and drunk, and then woke up to the world again. And whatever we had gotten from the march, whatever feeling (tempered though it may have been) started to recede.
And what replaced it was a persistently rising tide of more anger, more fear, but also, this bone-deep, exhausted cynicism. We watched the disaster of Trump’s first press conference and the hearings of his outrageously inexperienced and inappropriate picks for his cabinet, which would be hilarious if they weren’t so fucking frightening. We watched him sign executive order after executive order, announcing his intention to actually go ahead with some of the more cartoonishly fucked up things he proposed off the top of his head during his campaign. Since then, we’ve watched him threaten to revoke the healthcare of millions of Americans without any plan to replace it but the #bigly one in his head that doesn’t exist.
We’ve watched him sign an order to go ahead with the Dakota Access Pipeline, issuing a big old fuck you both to the Standing Rock Sioux and the idea that a president should not be a blatant kleptocrat. We’ve watched him, and his assembled cronies attempt to shit fascistically not only on the fundamental freedoms of the press but also on the existence of what an objective truth is. We’ve watched him greenlight the immensely idiotic money and diplomacy pit of a wall he intends to drop on the border with Mexico. We saw him dismiss the Joint Chiefs of Staff and replace them with a completely unqualified, nazi-sympathizing pile of old ball skin and cigarette ash called Steve Bannon, and then literally attempt to gaslight Jews about Holocaust denial.
And, most recently and arguably most egregiously, we watched him institute an immediate, blatantly Islamophobic ban on Muslims, including many refugees, from all Muslim countries in the Middle East that have yet to kiss the ring by pumping money into Trump Incorporated.
It feels kind of like a nesting doll full of shit, only when you go deeper into the doll, instead of smaller shits, there are magically larger, more starkly rancid shits. As a defense mechanism, my mind—and, I’m sure, many other minds–have been opting for whatever salve it can get for just a little bit of time away from the screaming panic of “holy shit, holy shit, what the fuck, holy shit!” And these days, that means that cynicism, that exhaustion, that feeling of helplessness, starts to take over. And then I start to look back at The Women’s March and it feels completely useless. A deluded motion to nothing and nowhere. I feel like an idiot kid and a rube for having thought I was participating in anything meaningful, or at least helpful, that day.
Let me tell you why that is (mostly) bullshit.
Yes, on its own, a march can be a vague and ineffectual gesture. But coming to this march meant showing up. And right now, in this bizarro universe we find ourselves having to take seriously as our reality, showing up is the thing we have. At this point, it’s the thing which, if we can do it, we absolutely cannot afford not to do. Malaise, I know, can be almost inescapable, and I’d be a liar if I said it doesn’t get to me, and won’t in the future. But at this point, it feels like the fire is on, lit, and rising under our asses, and if we don’t want to become spit meat, we’d better move. And people are moving.
People keep resisting. The mass outrage and ensuing protests, information spreading, and legal action that resulted from Trump’s latest shit on American dignity when he signed the Muslim Ban into order did something. There is, at least for now, a stay, and a scramble among the Trumpkins to reorganize what they actually intend to do. And most importantly, a network of people internationally working to aid and help find solutions for the people that are and will continue to be affected by this order. So keep showing up. Keep showing up in the streets, if you can. Pay attention to marches as they form, when they form. When things happen–and they will keep happening–act. Don’t be a dick to people who cannot show up physically. Some people aren’t physically and/or psychologically able. Some people have work that isn’t going to make it possible for them. And if you can’t, for whatever reason, show up physically on the street, don’t be a dick to yourself. Show up the way you’re able. But show up.
Keep showing up with donations, if you can, to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the National Immigration Law Center, and other larger and more local organizations doing the work. Keep showing up at the ballots, specifically at the state and local levels. Show up for facts: pay attention, even if it feels like your soul is dying. Keep showing up for community: make it happen from the ground up. Get creative, angry people together. Pool skills and resources and form security nets for when shit hits the fan. Keep making art, music, comedy, and keep those spaces radical and inclusive.
The engine of fascism really is misinformation.
Show up for intersectionality, because even though it’s been said to death, it seems we’re still having trouble getting it: we’re not free until we’re all free. If you’re white, show up for people of color. If you’re straight & cis, show up for queers. Show up for Muslims and show up for immigrants. Do not let them take your neighbors away. Don’t let Islamophobia, racism, sexism, antisemitism, classism, or anti-LGBTQ shit fly. Make it uncomfortable for people to be oppressive, even as they are emboldened.
I am writing this as much as a letter to myself, against the daily inundation by a falling sky, against the unending desire to hole up and let it burn. I can’t promise any of this is going to be enough to fight what we’re up against. I know and feel it’s important for people to acknowledge to themselves, that bad things are going to happen. Soon, and often. But I also feel like there’s something in humanity and in ourselves that is owed a fight. And that maybe, continually showing up, showing that we aren’t taking this lying down and that we will continue to find ways to help each other survive, will do something. Will be enough to live on, for a while. Who knows. We’re in Kronenberg land. More importantly, there are millions of us here.