On Saturday, Jan. 21, approximately 500,000 people participated in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. If this estimated turnout is accurate, it will be remembered as the largest inauguration-related demonstration in United States history. This momentous protest, in conjunction with hundreds of sister marches both across the country and around the world, has become a vital opportunity for people to take a stand for women’s health care and reproductive rights in the face of a Trump presidency.
Donald Trump has taken a giant step towards undermining the health of American women by choosing Representative Tom Price to be our country’s new secretary of health and human services. As a man who is opposed to abortion and in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood, Mr. Price has said he will try to abolish the Affordable Care Act, or at least repeal the law’s contraceptive coverage requirement and family planning services. Although some insurance plans and employers would still cover the cost of contraception regardless of what happens to the Affordable Care Act, repealing these facets of the law would force women from 22 states to have to pay for the full cost of contraception out of pocket.
Standing up and protesting such changes is needed and necessary. The fact that as these marches were going on, Donald Trump spoke at the CIA headquarters and, instead of addressing the demonstrations, discussed how he will lead our country in what he believes is a winning direction, demonstrates the need for such protests.
I know a lot of 20-somethings who participated in marches today and are taking it upon themselves to get educated about what needs to be done to protect women’s rights. It’s great to see Instagram feeds and Snapchat stories flooded with images of both young men and women holding posters and dressed up in solidarity with the fight.
But I think before millennials start patting themselves on the back for getting involved and doing their part, they have to recognize how late they are to the game. Being spoon-fed an idealized version of reality where the fight for women’s rights was won, we grew up believing words like feminist were outdated and irrelevant. It took being confronted with the fact that large portions of our country and our newly elected president want to reverse a lot of the progress made on women’s rights for us to realize that the fight our mothers and their mothers fought is not over.
Only now have we realized that these protests are relevant, that being a feminist does matter.
My criticism is not meant to belittle the progress made, however, but instead to warn us from becoming the reactionary generation. It is great that so many young people got out and marched on Saturday. But it shouldn’t have taken us almost losing everything to realize that we have so much to protect.
Going forward, we no longer can take our reality for granted, not only because we are lucky to have gotten as far as we have, but also because the rights and privileges we have are now in danger. We can no longer be comfortable or ignorant. If the 500,000 people in D.C. didn’t make it clear, the time is now.