by Jenni Gunn • In many years to come, when historians look back at Trump’s (hopefully short) presidency, they will look to the women’s marches in the wake of his inauguration as the beginning of the galvanisation of popular resistance against not just one orange tinted demagogue, but against the ideas of the reactionary right wing as a whole—from Richard Spencer, to Marine Le Pen, to our very own Theresa May.
Trump may be the catalyst for these world wide demonstrations, which have increased in number and size, but they have to be more than just outpourings of anger and solidarity.
The demonstrations that are taking place in the UK against Trump’s planned state visit come after the new president signed an executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim majority countries in the name of “national security”.
There have been huge demonstrations across the US, at airports and at universities, and Trump has subsequently sacked the sitting Attorney General for suggesting his order is unconstitutional and illegal. It seems that the resistance to Trump isn’t just on the streets, it’s coming from sections of the establishment, too.
Whilst these demonstrations represent a broad coalition of forces and have been criticised by many commentators on the left as being “too liberal”, it is imperative that the left leads this resistance.
The marches themselves represent broad forces against Trump’s policies and posturing. But in order to defeat his rhetoric and the rhetoric of others like him, we must present a clear alternative not only to his reactionary programme, but to the neoliberal system that has failed so many people across the globe.
For many taking to the streets to protest the new president, this will be their first foray into political action. The left must seize on this collective anger and demand not only opposition to fascist and reactionary ideas, but it must demand a radical programme to stand in its place. We must not let this anger fizzle out or go to waste.
The women’s marches in particular represent a chance for socialist feminists to organise a popular, anti-capitalist and intersectional movement against Trump’s racist and misogynist policies.
Trump’s hatred of women has been well documented not only during his campaign, but during his whole career in the public eye. He has openly bragged about sexually assaulting women, he has demeaned them and has even gone as far as to suggest that women who undergo abortions must be “punished.”
As is almost always the case when the right come to power, women are always among the biggest losers. Trump’s counsellor Kellyann Conway and his Vice President Mike Pence addressed the clearly badly misnamed “March for Life” rally in Washington just last week.
This should send shivers down the spine of every person concerned about a woman’s access to reproductive healthcare. For socialist feminists, access to abortion and reproductive services is not only a question of gender, but of class.
It is poor women, and women of colour in particular, who will suffer as a result to the Trump’s proposed cuts to Planned Parenthood and the rolling back of Obamacare.
Planned Parenthood have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of women requesting to be fitted with IUD’s, terrified that contraception and access to abortion will be near impossible under his presidency, and forced into taking preemptive measures to access contraceptive services while they can.
Trump’s appointment of another rabidly anti-choice judge to the Supreme Court will further impinge on a women’s right to choose by not eliminating the right to have an abortion, but by making it almost impossible to access one.
Women living in states such as Texas, where access to abortion is severely limited, are facing impossible choices.
Although preventing access to these services is an assault on all women, it is particularly an assault on working class women. Poor and working class women, unable to travel across state lines to access safe, clean and healthy medical care, are forced to attempt to self-abort or to carry an unwanted pregnancy which in itself places an exorbitant pressure on the lives of working class women.
There have been reports across the country of women calling medical centres, unable to travel there to get the adequate care, asking clinic staff if drinking or douching with bleach will end their pregnancies.
44 years after Roe v Wade, American women still live in constant fear that the right to their own bodies will be removed at any minute and catapult us back to the pre-choice era of back-alley abortions and women bleeding to death on their bathroom floors. Here and in the US, grassroots coalitions are forming.
In order to defeat Trumpism, we must make broad leftist alliances, between LGBTQI, anti-racist campaigns, women and the labour movement.
Many commentators have speculated that the upcoming marches against Trump in the UK could be as big as those marches against the war in Iraq.
These marches will be a powerful symbol of social solidarity but also an opportunity for the left to do what is used to do best—educate, agitate and organise.