Kathy Sheridan: Donald Trump brings out the best in women

Women’s March proved the need to keep protesting the US’s evolving horror show

An estimated 500,000 people took to Washington DC for the Women’s March on Washington. Similar marches took place across the world from Sydney to Chicago. Video: Reuters/CNN

 

On Saturday morning, one of many sceptical male commentators wondered what the marching women were so afraid of, precisely what rights was Donald Trump going to remove from them?

The implication was clear: the silly things were sacrificing half a weekend, chunks of hard-earned cash and their physical comfort without the wit to ask why.

He seemed to assume a simple answer to the question. It had to be about abortion rights.

But here is the news. No one woman or group represents the views of all women. Gather six random women around a table and they may agree on the right to safe, legal abortion (as the polls suggest) but there will probably be a robust exchange about the extent of such rights.

So yes, abortion was certainly one of the concerns in the mix last Saturday and for good reason.

It’s nearly a year since Trump told a town hall meeting that there needed to be “some form of punishment” for women having an abortion.

As is his wont, he disavowed it a few hours later, but too late.

It exposed a visceral judgmentalism and, not inconveniently for candidate Trump, it chimed with the sadistically punitive actions of many Republicans across the US.

‘Grab them by the pussy’

When women turned to scrutinise this arch moraliser, they found – surprise surprise – a notoriously licentious man, thrice-married amid highly publicised affairs, apt to walk in on teenage beauty contestants in their changing rooms, to collude with a radio jock calling his daughter Ivanka “a piece of ass”, a man who at 46 was filmed ogling a 10-year-old child, saying : “I’m going to be dating her in 10 years time. Can you believe it?”

If there is anyone alive who still cannot fathom why ordinary women are so fearful, let me introduce them to the new president of the United States of America, as he revealed himself 11 years ago: “I did try and fuck her. She was married. I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

You can do anything.

Decades of explaining why such an attitude represents all that is demeaning, menacing and ultimately destructive of women’s right to basic equality and all the freedoms taken for granted by men, were demolished in a sentence.

The fact that he was elected in spite of it – yes, by white women as well as men – suggests that it’s not only Trump who has failed to evolve.

Self-obsessed misogynist

Paul Ryan, the powerful, fiercely conservative, Republican Speaker of the House, who announced after the tape revelations that he would no longer defend or support Trump’s campaign, is back by his side, beaming, along with many others.

“Together we will determine the course of America and all of the world for many, many years to come,” Trump asserted in his inaugural speech. This at least is true and explains why so many women, men and children hit the streets on marches across the world.

A petulant, self-obsessed, fidgety, misogynist, one who has horrified so many with his views on immigration, climate change, on people with disabilities – one with no regard for nuance, integrity or truth – is in charge now. Our children, male and female, have plenty to fear.

So for those who saw no pressing reason to march and for those who discerned good reason but regarded the exercise as futile, their answer came with unusual speed.

That extraordinary outburst of juvenile rage and brazen, flat-out lies from the Snowflake-in-Chief and his minions was provoked by nothing more important than publication of the ratings for his inauguration day and the astonishing magnitude of the marches.

We learned that protest marches will be far more useful than many anticipated.

As for all the millions of women and the many men who marched, there was not only the joy, solidarity and catharsis of it, but the satisfaction of knowing they contributed more than a shrugged “what’s the point?” to an evolving horror show.

Those of us who joined the mighty anti-Iraq War marches 13 years ago did not change the course of history, sadly, but we can say we tried. We informed ourselves and tried.

Those who merely watched and carped, then and now, cannot say they were not warned.

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