President Trump: The Fire That Ignited a Women’s Movement

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Hailey Ryan , Editor-In-Chief

The day after Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States, I— the melodramatic teenager that I am—wore black head to toe in mourning of several heartbreaking national deaths. I was mourning the end of the Obama-Biden era, of the administration that I grew up following and admiring. I was mourning the dissolution of an incredible feminist triumph—the election of Hillary Clinton as the first female president of the United States. I was mourning what I thought would be the death, or at least the delay, of the current crusade for women’s rights.

Little did I know that Clinton’s loss would actually ignite a feminist fight so impassioned it is reminiscent of the days when Gloria Steinem marched the streets of America. Little did I know that the following week I would replace my mourning attire and somber sighs with feminist t-shirts and inspired eyes.  

Little did I know that our misogynistic, racist, xenophobic sexual predator of a president would be one of the greatest things for the current feminist movement. In fact, it is President Trump’s bigotry and hatred that galvanized a generation of women to demand equality.

I came to this realization marching the streets of Manhattan, my voice loud and proud as I breathed in the impassioned yet angry city air. Women and men across the world were no longer wearing black and crying over Clinton’s loss. Why? Because what good is mourning going to do when your rights can be stripped away from you at any minute? When your president hates you simply because of the skin you were born in? When your fellow Americans could betray you by voting for a bigoted sexual predator? Instead of sitting around crying, people across the world gathered to protest and fight for their rights.

The Women’s March in Washington D.C

The Women’s March was like nothing I had ever seen before. Every time I breathed in the cold city air I felt a breath of inspiration, of invigoration, and of ignition inflating my lungs and rushing through my veins. I was no longer sad that a lifelong role model of mine was not the president. I was no longer sad that yet again an incredible woman lost to an average man. Instead, I was angry. I was angry with President Trump. I was angry with American people for voting for him.  

It was in this moment that I realized that it was no longer about what could have been with Hillary but what could be with Trump. It was in this moment that I realized that it was not Hillary Clinton’s loss, but President Trump’s victory that ignited this current reckoning among women. He has ignited a fire under a movement that failed to inspire my generation of women, a generation of women who benefitted from the battles of our mothers and grandmothers and saw no need to keep fighting. But now we do. Now we are ready not only to fight this battle but to win it.

This type of passionate social activism could not have existed under the Clinton administration; after a brief period of euphoria and feminist fervor there likely would have been a return to complacency. With Clinton as president, many women might have seen no reason to protest because their rights would have been secured. Trump, however, is a real threat to women and minorities not only in the United States but across the globe.

President Trump united more than just women; he united an army of oppressed peoples protesting impending threats to their bodies, economic and social well-being, environment, and families. They rallied behind more than just women’s rights; they rallied behind gay rights, immigration rights, transgender rights, black lives, Latino lives, health care, and equal pay, to name a few.

As a sexual predator, President Trump opened the floodgates for sexual misconduct and assault to finally be at the forefront of the feminist movement. 2017 was the year of the #metoo movement and the Times Up campaign. It was the year that victims across the country became determined to change our rape culture and make the world safe for future generations of women.

2017 was the year that I realized that as much as I loathe President Trump, I love what he has done for the Women’s Rights Movement.

It is hard for me to say this because it is hard for me to give any credit to President Trump. It is hard for me to give credit to a man, especially a sexist man, for instigating a Women’s Movement. And as important as it is to realize what ignited this movement, it is even more important to acknowledge the women who made it possible. It is important to thank the Women’s March organizers for enacting one of our nation’s greatest displays of female power. It is important to thank the 353 women and counting who are running for Congress for showing little girls across the world that a woman’s place is wherever the hell she wants it to be. It is important to thank everyone that marched and continues to fight for what they believe in.