Last Saturday, smaller (yet still impressive) groups of people continued the tradition of the Women’s March in cities across the world to challenge and object to injustice, hate and the Trump administration. The impact of the march was evident in the notable moments that occurred in 2017 for women and minorities.
Ashley Bennett was inspired to run for the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders in New Jersey after one member, John Carman, mocked the Women’s March on Twitter. Bennett unseated Carman in the 2017 election.
One year after the Women’s March, we should reflect on how we’ve succeeded, how we’ve failed and how we can improve this year.
The #MeToo movement erupted on social media in October after women came forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. Eighty-four women came out against the director and hundreds of additional women have come forward with accusations against other public figures. The list of offenders includes Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, Louis C.K. and most recently, Aziz Ansari. The victim’s stories range from the horrific accounts by Weinstein’s victims to the less obvious, but much more common, experience told by Ansari’s accuser. The movement has opened up a global conversation about the various forms of sexual assault, aside from the stories making headlines.
However, what many fail to realize, is that the movement was actually started in 2006 by civil rights activist and founder of Just Be Inc., Tarana Burke. The organization and the movement aim to support women of color who are victims of sexual assault. She was unfortunately overshadowed by the stories containing household names constantly being published. She was finally acknowledged and was featured in TIME’s 2017 Person of the Year: The Silence Breakers.
Just as Tarana Burke wasn’t a household name at the start of this movement, neither are the majority of sexual assault victims. Aside from actresses, politicians and olympians, women around the world in a range of occupations are sexually assaulted and do not get headlines in the most influential publications. Activism cannot start and end with the cases deemed most notable.
The other most significant moment in 2017 was the success of women in elections across the country.
Danica Roem was the first openly transgender person to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates after beating Robert Marshall, a sponsor of the “bathroom bill.” Andrea Jenkins won a seat in the Minneapolis City Council becoming the first openly transgender person of color to be elected to public office. Vi Lyles was elected Charlotte, North Carolina’s first Black female mayor.
These successes are important to acknowledge, but there’s still work to be done.
As we head into the second year of Trump’s presidency, there are some things we need to keep in mind. Do not forget the different ways people experience the world because of factors such as race, sexual orientation and economic status. Those pink pussy hats are a symbol of the narrow form of feminism that simply doesn’t cut it.
Remember every issue we experience as privileged members of society are felt much deeper by those who are not. Think about people outside of your circle when you march, when you post Facebook statuses, when you call your lawmakers and when you ask yourself how you should participate as an activist. Injustice doesn’t just occur where you can see it. I encourage some of you to look a little harder.
Katie is a junior pursuing a major in journalism and a minor in political science. She enjoys writing about current events, especially regarding anything that’s happening in Richmond. She hopes to someday write for a major publication in a big city. When she’s not writing you can find her at a local Richmond show or trying out a new recipe she found on Facebook.
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