On the 20th of January 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. In response, one of the largest protests in history was launched.
The Women’s March covered the globe, men and women protesting on all seven continents, they marched in protest of the rampant gender inequality that is definitely not ‘fake news’ and against the election of Donald Trump who has been repeatedly accused of sexual assault and is undeniably sexist, racist, and homophobic. And as much as Mr Trump would like to deny the sheer number of people who came out not to celebrate his election, but to protest it, there is no denying that the Women’s March brought gender equality to the forefront of the media.
Following the Women’s March, social media in particular became a hotbed of debate. Why we are still debating whether equality is a good thing or not, SUBCULTURED will never understand. Regardless, the people took to Twitter to share their views (unwanted or not). While social media movements have a tendency to fizzle out, gender equality was on everyone’s minds.
And then on October 5th 2017, The New York Times published an article regarding the accusations of sexual assault at Hollywood film mogul, Harvey Weinstein. With actresses like Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan stepping forward to publically accuse Weinstein of using his position of power to take advantage of them, and many others, it was about to become a very dangerous time to be a misogynist in Hollywood.
The #MeToo movement was reborn. Originally starting in 2006 with Tarana Burke who coined the term to help survivors of sexual assault, Alyssa Milano tweeted following the Weinstein debacle urging every woman who had ever been sexually harassed to reply to her tweet with ‘Me Too’. More than 1.7 million people immediately spoke out about their own experiences. The hashtag remains strong four months later, joined by #TimesUp.
Following the slew of male celebrities being accused of sexual harassment and assault, the people of Hollywood responded with the message ‘Time’s Up’. Attendees at the BAFTAs were urged to wear black (a strange choice for the men attending a black tie event?) as a physical symbol of solidarity with the Time’s Up movement. Nearly every woman in attendance wore a black gown (with a few exceptions we won’t bother to mention).
The movement aimed to call ‘Time’s Up’ on gender inequality, sexual harassment, bigotry and prejudice. And in January 2018, on the anniversary or Trump’s inauguration #TimesUp rallies and protests were held across the globe. We went to London’s Time’s Up rally, held outside Downing Street. It was raining and freezing cold but the huge crowd of women stood proudly holding their homemade protest signs and chanting ‘Time’s Up!’ with Sholah Mos-Shogbamimu, the London Women’s March organiser was worth enduring the weather. The atmosphere was one of anger and fragile hope, that by standing together we might see the changes we so desperately want to see. Protesting isn’t new for many students. We’ve protested tuition fees, housing prices and now we’ve come out in protest of gender inequality. It was wonderful to see so many young people in the crowd, many of whom we spoke to and were students from other universities, all of us coming together to stand for a cause we believe in.
And now in February, the 6th marked 100 years since women were given the vote during the Suffragette movement. For many this anniversary was an occasion to be celebrated, but it also shows how even a century later we are still marching for gender equality. It poses the question as to how effective these movements really are, especially when many would argue that a lot of today’s activism is half hearted retweeting and not enough actual action.
Nevertheless, since the Women’s March over a year ago we have seen evidence of the momentum it has gained which we hope will translate into real change in policy, laws and attitudes. There is always more work to do and more misogyny to overcome, but through social media more and more women are involved and having their voice heard, and that is half the battle.
In our small corner of the world, there is still so much you can do as a Surrey student. Lend your voice to those without one on social media and participate in campaigns like This Girl Can. Our student population is diverse and lively, get involved and don’t be afraid to speak out.
We hope that in a year’s time we can write a follow up article detailing all the successes of these movements. But for now, we hope our readers will keep fighting the good fight alongside us.
Text and photos by Holly Butteriss
Featured image retouched by Donna Darafshian.