As promised, hate and fear permiated out of Washington D.C. last week. I was honored to be a part of the resistance and peaceful mass-gatherings that brought people together in my city of Philadelphia and across the country.
I want to obstain from adding any more hot air to the president's ego, so from now on I will only refer to him as 45, as he is the 45th man to reign over our country. This isn't the first time a paranoid, xenophobic monster has held the White House.
Let us not forgot about other destructive presidents in American history, such as number 7, Andrew Jackson, who sent natives west of the Mississippi on the infamous trail of tears. Or number 37, Richard Nixon, a paranoid man who kept manic lists of his enemies, whose vindictive style of governance shook the faith of the American people when it was exposed in scandal. These presidents stand as reminders of the dark side of our democracy.
When the country is governed from a place of fear, reactionary scapegoating can wreck havoc on the lives of real people. This time around it took form as an ill-conceived, unconstitutional and arbitrary islamophobic immigration ban.
I was proud to stand with my representatives, senators and governor at the Philadelphia airport on Saturday and Sunday.
The words of Martin Niemöller rang in my ears once the news broke:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
We must remember how dangerous hate and fear truly are.
Immigration is apart of what makes this country so incredible. Generations have fled to these lands for centuries and it is not the first time they have been condemned for being 'other'.
My great grandmother, Katherine, my namesake, was ashamed of being off-the-boat Irish. She denied being Irish till the day she died. Now I look around at all my Irish and Italian friends who would have been condemned in the 1800s and cry for my Muslims brothers and sisters.
I've also been contemplating the state of feminism in the days following 45's inauguration.
At the Women's March in Philadelphia, I stood with 50,000 women, men, and queers from all walks of life on the Ben Franklin Parkway in a peaceful and desperate attempt to reconcile with how 45 could have happened.
Over the years, Feminism has become a dirty word in our country. I have been astonished by how rampant the misunderstanding of the movement is, especially with young women of my generation.
To review, google defines feminism as:
"the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes."
This definitions can get a bit convoluted if you get into debating the difference between sex and gender and whether or not you believe this definition is inclusive to queer or intersexed communities.
That being said, for me personally, I define feminism as:
the inclusive commitment to being an ally in the fight for equality.
In identifying as feminist, we acknowledge the subtle and rampant misogyny that pervades our culture. I believe that ultimately feminism is a representation of a greater oppression and that identifying as a feminist is a fight for the equality of all. There is real power that comes from this uniting principal.
Women have only been able to vote in this country since 1919 and in much of the world are still not even legally equal to men.
My generation is at odds with this.
In this country misogyny endures, hidden in plain sight: normalized, subtle, and all encompassing. The shock of 45's election has shown a light on the persistent willingness of our culture to overlook and normalize bigotry, even when it is blatant.
We must not forget about the importance of feminism.
As we see access to reproductive and family planning services challenged in Washington D.C., now more than ever we must not stop fighting for equal rights.
Laws that give one person power over another person's body are not just.
We must empower each other to make the tough decisions with all options open, not throw up arbitrary walls based out of fear. Women should not be punished because of the oppressive ignorance of others.
No one is free when others are oppressed.