By Josh Inocéncio
“It will be a long time before men let women be. It will be a long time before women leave women alone.”
Thus spoke Anna Karenina, the titular character in Irish playwright Marina Carr’s new theatrical version of Leo Tolstoy’s novel, to her prudish sister-in-law. My friend Jeff and I watched this premiere play at The Abbey, Ireland’s national theater located just north of the River Liffey in Dublin, shortly after marching with hundreds of women and fellow allies through the Irish capital’s streets as a sister event to the Women’s March on Washington on January 21.
Hours after the election on November 8, plans emerged not only for the national march in Washington DC but a sister march in Austin, Texas. Distraught but motivated from the election, I committed to the Austin march immediately—not only to demonstrate solidarity with women who stand to lose so much under the new administration, but to get more involved with local politics. While I had canvassed for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and Mayor Sylvester Turner in 2015, Trump’s election was a jolt that increased my commitment to local issues, as the stakes for women and other marginalized groups skyrocketed. Many of us got cozy under President Obama, an ally to a myriad of communities.
But my plans changed with the opportunity to assist my friend and colleague with his research trip to Ireland and the U.K. And while I lamented missing the Austin march with fellow Texans (and of going to the D.C. one, for that matter), I found the burgeoning march in Dublin, one of the many international cities standing with American women and opposing the freshly sworn-in president that had so nastily disrespected women.
Thus, on our second day in Ireland, Jeff and I journeyed to the Garden of Remembrance still wobbly from jetlag. As the morning drifted into a cloudy afternoon, a tiny group of women holding the official Women’s March banner transformed into a legion of female and male marchers with signs opposing President Trump and demanding the repeal of the eighth amendment in the Irish constitution that bans abortion—a rallying point for both Irish and American women and a stark reminder of the shortcomings of reproductive rights even in the “progressive West.” And while those present were mostly Irish, there was no shortage of Americans, both travelers and expats, including a Kansas woman Jeff and I connected and remained with the entire march.
Around 12:30 p.m., as the garden and nearby street were brimming with marchers eager to spill through Dublin’s streets, an American and then an Irish speaker took the stage. The American woman somberly lamented Trump’s victory while the Irish woman roused the crowd with battle cries to organize, repeal the eighth in Ireland, and challenge Trump in the States. No stranger to oppressive forces in Ireland, she roared for a united alliance among women of every race, men, and the queer community.
Energized by her unrelenting vision of equality, we took to the shut-down streets in a group longer than three city blocks and marched south across the River Liffey and back up again. Flurries of signs floated above marchers’ heads, including richly colored exclamations of “Pussy Power!” and the yet unrealized phrase coined by Hillary Clinton that “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.” And there were comical posters, too. My favorite was a drawing of a vagina with Gandalf the Grey in front shouting, “You Shall Not Pass!”
As the march ended, I watched The Guardian and The New York Times update their photo threads of marches around the world. Washington, of course. And London, Paris, Austin, Los Angeles, Boise, Nairobi, Melbourne, Atlanta, Houston, Nashville, Santiago, Antarctica, to name a few. From red states to nations with more restrictive abortion laws, women and allies organized. This was the first act of resistance to President Trump, and we triumphed as a global collective.
And days later, when Trump trounced over women’s health the world over by reviving the notorious “gag rule,” we must remember that the Women’s March wasn’t in vain. Our grassroots actions will irk Trump’s insecurities and cultivate his backlash. After all, we have rankled the new president because he can’t stand that his inauguration numbers were but dregs to the deluge of women opposing him all over the United States. But while he set the tone of his apocalyptic presidency with a pallid speech, we set the tone of our hopeful agenda with stirring solidarity.
Witnessing the international solidarity of the Women’s March, I thought to myself, “Well, Mr. Trump got one thing right in his inaugural address: the people will rule again. But it will be in our united resistance against him.”
At least, I dare to hope so.