The recent American loss with the Trump win has become a personal loss for women. It has become difficult for women – Muslim women, Black women, White women etc. – to feel safe walking down the same streets where their neighbors and family have supported a man who tells the world that sexual assault, hating the Other, and misogyny are okay. His win has made my female students and I feel unsafe, uncomfortable and un-belonging suddenly, even in a progressive city like New York.
Women and men have been writing letters to, and calling on, their politicians to act, they have been speaking up, signing petitions, supporting and even funding planned parenthoods, posting post-its on walls of resistance, holding vigils, marching and protesting – day and night – and putting their bodies on the line since the elections on Fifth Avenue where the Trump tower is located, in LA, Chicago, Seattle [where there’s a sanctuary for women, immigrants etc.], and in other countries like France for American democracy and rights for everyone.
Two women, Nadja Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly, have decided to launch a magazine called RESIST! whose first appearance coincided with the inauguration on January 20th 2017 in Washington (http://www.comicsbeat.com/francoise-mouly-nadja-spiegelman-seek-submissions-for-resist/). Mouly and Spiegelman have asked women to make their voices heard by publishing their art and articles, which will appear in the first edition of this magazine on January 21, 2017. The turnout has been stupendous, which proves that there is a need for a medium for these voices.
But, another woman, Italian Francesca Comencini – mother, political organizer, screenwriter and filmmaker – has another idea on how we could resist. According to Ariel Levy in “When in Rome, the Women” The New Yorker November 28, 2016, Comencini points out Trump’s and Berlusconi’s commonalities, which others have done in the past, but she does it for a different reason: to show that it is possible for change to occur in American government. This is quite an interesting parallel to consider that she is making, especially for those who feel hopeless and/or naysayers since both Trump and Berlusconi are so very similar. According to Comencini, both Trump and Berlusconi have amassed fortunes in real estate through questionable business practices; both share a taste for marble, extreme tans and strongmen: Trump is impressed with Putin and Berlusconi with Muammar Qaddafi; both have a murky grasp on ‘consent’; and both are skilled manipulators of social media.
But what differentiates Comencini from others in comparing Trump and Berlusconi is her optimism. She compares both of these men in power to suggest that Berlusconi and Trump could have yet another thing in common: a downfall catalyzed by women. Berlusconi said in 2009 that they don’t have enough soldiers to stop rape in Italy, because their women are so beautiful and Trump said grabbing women by the pussy is cool, it is what men do. Trump says that Hillary would not be his ‘first choice’ because he wasn’t impressed by her behind, and Berlusconi said that Angela Merkel was “unfuckable’. They both share a very foucauldian and fallible view of politics, one where sexuality seems to be a very important aspect of their politics. But Trump however, may tip the scales since he has probably outdone Berlusconi in signing women’s chests [in Virginia], in addition to the many women who came out after Access Hollywood to tell the word Trump had sexually abused, groped them etc.
The other similarity I see in Comencini’s article is our million women march coming up on January 20th. Italy’s one million people march organized by Comencini – Se Non Ora, Quando [If Not Now, when] – held demonstrations in Italy causing Berlusconi to resign 9 months after. Women in the Piazza del Popolo held a ‘group scream’ so women could live in dignity, and they even enlisted an Italian actress – Angela Finochiaro – to make a video appeal to the nation’s men asking them to ‘tell the world you don’t want to live in a bad fifties movie” while framing sexism and misogyny not just as wrong, but ‘lame’.
Comencini advises women in America to NOT make something ‘against’ Trump, but to communicate the idea that ‘we are the nation’, and that its strength is in women. Berlusconi held power for 2 decades and made many kinds of things normal which are not, and considering that Trump hasn’t even occupied the white house yet, there’s hope. Things that he’s been putting forth have not yet become normal as with Berlusconi.
We have to believe that same sex love, women’s safety and freedom should be a step up from the past 50 and more years. We have to believe we could live in a world where our girls could achieve anything without limit, and we have to see the world that does NOT recommend corrective rape for uppity women or women who have a voice.
The Trump win is not just the loss of a male sense of self, but a conflict between patriarchy and feminism and the divide has been increasing with the Trump pick of mostly white male nationalists. And sadly there is no first lady with a voice to speak for her gender or the condition of women like Michelle Obama, who launched platforms for bringing back our girls – in Nigeria and elsewhere – or educating mothers in America. Nor a first daughter. Instead the first daughter who is headed to replace the first-lady and has a lot of clout does not have an agenda for women or for those on whom her father has stomped. Her “advocacy of women’ goes only so far as her clothing line.
We women are therefore our only hope. We need allies in each other, not complicity from those women who voted trump as their savior. We have to stop taking it for granted that we have a voice as we have been doing in the last eight and more years, and we have to value ourselves beyond that superficial beauty that some men constantly heap on us. Now more than never, we need to use our voices and make them as loud as possible before the country turns back the hands of time to oppression, anti-Semitism, anti- culturalism, anti-immigrantism, anti-LGBTism, and anti womanism.