International Women’s Day this year was arguably the most notable since the day’s founding. As many people take the time this month to reflect on the work women have done to improve society and their place in it, it is impossible to ignore how much is left for women to accomplish. The protests on March 8 are a reminder that women will not rest until they are heard.
But watching “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” forced me to take a critical look at what Bee and many others refer to as “the resistance” — the people who demonstrate and speak out against Donald Trump and his policies. The fact that millions of people marched during the Women’s March and many women participated in “A Day Without a Woman” is great. It is important that those against the Trump administration, especially those belonging to marginalized groups like women, come together and speak out. But showing solidarity and marching are not the only things that need to be done.
What do these strikes and marches mean if we don’t vote? My hope is that following these there will be an increase in voter turnout for local elections, but unfortunately this has not been the case so far. It doesn’t make sense that roughly half a million to three-quarters of a million people marched during the Women’s March but there was only about 12-percent turnout for the Los Angeles mayoral election. The lesson we all should have taken away from the presidential election is that for change to happen, we need to use all of the tools that are available to us. So if we’re going to strike and march, we also need to vote, write to our representatives and take it upon ourselves to organize grassroots movements within our communities.
We also need to make sure that everyone has a voice in this movement. It needs to encompass all backgrounds. This is where I think the recent strike, “A Day Without a Woman,” fell short. There were three main points to this protest: Women were encouraged to take the day off work (“from paid and unpaid labor”), avoid shopping (unless it was to purchase something from a small women- or minority-owned business) and wear red to show solidarity.
Mobilizing people is great, but for many low-income people, taking part in this strike was not possible. Taking off a day of work literally costs these women. The organizers of the strike noted this and stated they “strike for them.” But instead of striking or protesting for them, organizers of all modes of resistance need to bring people who are most marginalized into the discussion. In addition to the protests and strikes, we need to simultaneously speak with our representatives, vote in local elections and work to ensure that every woman’s voice is heard, not just those who can afford to take off of work.
The answer to what happens next rests on the shoulders of every woman and supporter of the resistance. It is not enough to march once or post a status on Facebook to show support. To keep the momentum going, supporters need to be more engaged in what’s going on in their communities and how they can effect change where it affects the most. Each community is different and while many women across communities face issues that are similar, it is important to address issues unique to different communities.
Protesting is pivotal, but it is not just in the form of marches or wearing red to show solidarity. And when you think about it, what becomes of all of the marches and strikes if those same people do not show up to vote or do nothing to support their community? Nothing.
So in addition to striking or marching, people who support the movement need to go a few steps further. Thankfully, there are many ways to do this: If you can, go to a concert that will donate profits to Planned Parenthood or donate yourself to organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union. Learn about ballot proposals and local elections in your area. And if you’re staying in Ann Arbor this summer, make sure you’re registered to vote for the upcoming City Council primary. Also, stay informed about all facets of the political system. Don’t just focus on the latest crazy thing that Trump has said, like the “wiretapping.” Pay attention to the real stuff — like the fact that Trump plans to reduce funds for the Pell Grant program and eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. These proposed cuts, and many others, will affect every community, and the University of Michigan is no exception.
To effectively resist, we need to stay informed and use our energy to vote and organize within our communities. By doing this, hopefully Trump and other lawmakers will think twice before proposing legislation. They’ll learn that resistance is not just a word that follows a hashtag but something not to be messed with.
Corey Dulin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.