Women Making Their Voices Heard

3-6-2017 Women's March Statement - 4x3.jpg

Photo Credit: Warren Jones/ CCC Graphic Design Student

BY AHMAD GRAVES-EL, Staff Writer

Throughout the history of human civilization, an innumerable number of men have treated women unfairly, unequally, and with utter disrespect. Women, unfathomably, have also been treated with disdain, distaste, and distrust.

For example, men in this country kept women from being able to vote for almost 200 years. According to The Concise History of Woman Suffrage by Mari Jo Buhle and Paul Buhle, through the tireless efforts of the Suffragettes, a 19th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution, giving women their long sought after right to vote.

On January 21, over a million women, children, and men, across the globe, marched in an idea birthed by Women’s March Global, to protest the ideologies of one of those men, who one day prior officially became the 45th President of the United States; Donald J. Trump.

From North to South America, Europe to Africa, and even Antarctica, people (mostly women) gathered and marched side-by-side with posters in hands and pussyhats on heads to demonstrate the power of humanity; the power of unity.

“The vibe was peaceful, loving and energetic,” said Camden, New Jersey native Tamika Chester, Program Officer for the New Jersey Department of Education, who attended the March in Philadelphia. When describing the atmosphere during this historic day Chester stated, “There was a sense of sisterhood [including men] amongst all the races of…participants.”

Michele Cortese, a teacher of many subjects including Language Arts Literacy and Math, who resides in northern New Jersey and participated in the Washington, D.C. March said, “I have never felt anything like this. The feeling of unity is so powerful.”

It’s not an alternative fact to state that President Trump has made some spectacularly shameful comments regarding women. Cindi Gant, Administrative Assistant in the Center for Academic and Student Success at Cumberland County College, who marched in Philly, agreed. “The new president made many disturbing and disparaging remarks against women, showing his lack of respect for women,” she expressed.

For example, after a completed interview with Billy Bush, former host of Access Hollywood, pre-President Trump was caught, on the now infamous hot mic audio which was released for public consumption, explicitly verbalizing things he “can do to women,” and “get away with” because of his celebrity status.

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them…I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star…You can do anything,” Mr. Trump said. “Grab ‘em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Let that sink in for a minute…

There were many speakers at the Global Women’s March ranging from legendary activists Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis, TV hosts like Van Jones, to actresses like America Ferrer and Scarlett Johansson. Ashley Judd gave a particularly charged speech while reading a poem sent to her by 19-year old Nina Donovan of Tennessee, titled “I Am A Nasty Woman.”

“I’m nasty like my grandmothers fought to get me into the voting booth,” Judd quoted. “…but not as nasty as racism, fraud, conflict of interest, homophobia, sexual assault, transphobia, white supremacy, misogyny, ignorance, [and] white privilege,” she passionately recited.

Chester, Cortese, and Gant proudly consider themselves nasty women. “I try my best to keep my opinions to myself,” Gant declared. “However, I will speak up when I feel strongly that someone has stepped way over the line. So…yes, I guess you can say that I am…!”

“Yes! With a capital Y, a capital E and a capital S,” said Cortes, unequivocally.

While the global protests were mostly peaceful, they didn’t escape without controversy.

At the March in Washington, D.C., Madonna made some questionable comments that some feel were not in harmony with the essence of the March. Furthermore, supporters of the pro-life movement were basically banned from participating, which did not sit well with Chester.

“While I am pro-choice, and believe wholeheartedly that women should have the right to do what they want with their bodies and our bodies should not be regulated, I respect the women who are pro-life and feel they should be heard,” she said.

While Cortese agrees that everyone has the right to be heard in accordance with the United States Constitution, “I also need people to understand that a pro-life movement continues to allow lawmakers to make decisions about my body…They don’t own me, nor do they own my body,” she asserted. “I do.”

Women are the mothers of civilization. Men’s despicable attempts throughout history to lower a woman’s status and treat them unequally are a stain on humanity. It’s time for all of us, in unison, to stand up and fight for what is right.

As Hillary Clinton said in a speech at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, on September 9, 1995, “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.”

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