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Berea Students Joined the 2017 Historic Women’s March Across the Globe

Berea Students Joined the 2017 Historic Women’s March Across the Globe

By Talia Floyd

The Women’s March took place on January 21, directly after President Trump’s inauguration and has claimed a spot as one of the largest protests in US history. The march’s theme echoed opposition to the deportment and political positions of incoming President Donald Trump. The march’s goal was “Protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country” according to “Sister Marches.”

“Our constitution does not begin with ‘I, the President.’ It begins with, ‘We, the People.’ Gloria Steinem.

           The Atlantic reported that the March drew at least 500,000 people to Washington, DC; Washington Metro system had its second-busiest day ever with over a million trips taken, considerably larger than the inauguration day’s ridership and second only to the first inauguration of President Barack Obama.
The New York Times reported that crowd scientists estimate that the Women’s March was three times the size of the Trump inauguration, which they estimated at 160,000 attendees. The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that an estimated 3,300,000 – 4,600,000 people participated in the United States, and up to 5 million worldwide.

       Given Berea College’s history it comes at no surprise that students took part in Sister Marches around the world. The Pinnacle interviewed six students who attended various Women’s March across the golbe.

          Clara Ana Ruplinger ’18, Lizeth Rodriguez ’19, Destiny Askew ’18, Hailey Barnett attended the march in Lexington KY; Eilish Flannery ’19 attended the March in Chattanooga TN; and Madelaine Collett ’18 attended the March in Galway, Ireland.
Diversity, for Barnett, was reflective of the march itself. “I was amazed by the different types of people that came together to protest Trump’s presidency. I saw people from every possible walk of life. It inspired me,” said Barnett.
Organizers in their five page comprehensive platform introduced the historic march as “a women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds in our nation’s capital on January 21, 2017, to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination.”
The March is demonstrative of how feminism has increasingly embraced complex, global and intersectional women’s issues as opposed to monopolizing the movement for middle and upper income white, cisgender, straight women. This commitment to what some view as a distractingly large array of issues did serve to address the priorities of all the students the Pinnacle interviewed.
When asked “What are the most pressing issues facing Women during the Trump Presidency?” Students responded with issues such as lack of representation in politics, lack of access to health care, sexual abuse/harassment and reproductive rights.
Collett who is currently studying abroad in Galway Ireland eloquently summarized some of the main concerns writing “Trump has given a hate filled language to people who would very willingly destroy any trace of the Women’s Rights Movement. He has emboldened people who seek to act out violence, misogyny, and harassment toward females … he represents America as a nation of people who have attempted to halt the progress of the movement for the equality of the sexes. Furthermore, he and many conservatives have used defunding Planned Parenthood as a hook to reign in many conservative voters. This is a grave issue, as it very directly affects the health and rights of women concerning their own bodies.”
Whether women should have access to reproductive justice has largely been debated as a partisan issue, but the consequences for women without access to healthcare are very real.
“I have PCOS, I could die without birth control” Askew said.

        For her and many other women with PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome), about 1 in 15 according to the National Institute of Health, access to birth control is not some petty indulgence, it is an indispensable element of her health. Despite successfully championing an array of causes the march was not without criticism. Feminist movements in the states has been plagued with racism since their inception with countless examples, one being white suffragettes telling black suffragettes to march at the back.
Common critiques of the march and white feminism in general include the ignorance of middle class white women in the states to the issues faced by women of color, poor women and women coming from non western cultural lenses and those in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Ruplinger said, “Women, particularly poor women of color, almost always bare the full brunt of any system of oppression”. Organizers addressed some of these concerns by making sure women of color were lead organizers.
For some, the days ahead seem bleak. When the Pinnacle asked “What opportunities exist for women under a Trump presidency?” Two of the women interviewed said they saw none.
Flannery said “We have a lot of work to do, we have a lot of fighting to do, but we have strength in numbers and we will not be silenced.” Later she wrote that a Trump presidency is “an opportunity to fight back with everything we have.” Rodriguez hinted at the possibility of organizing for women on campus in her final comments “ I think that we’ve attempted our own type of protest on campus that included women, however one specifically for women would be nice.“

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