Inauguration weekend had its highs and lows — or rather, a single high (the Women's March) and a plunging low (the swearing-in of a man who embodies the feeling of stepping on something slimy in the dark). Although the Women's March is over, with up to four years of Donald Trump's administration ahead, the fight to protect the rights of minorities is most definitely not. For some, though, the trouble might be finding a way to direct your efforts: What are some things to do after the Women's March to best utilize the protest's momentum? Protesters are headed back to their daily lives this week, but there are plenty of ways to create political change in the coming months.
Although it was not without its flaws, the Women's March can still be counted a resounding success. Even conservative estimates put the number of protesters between three and four million people worldwide. Many have drawn comparisons between the crowd at Trump's inauguration and that of the Women's March On Washington, and the size difference certainly serves as a reminder that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a wide margin.
Clearly, millions are discontent with Trump's demonstrated disrespect for women and minorities. Unfortunately, it's easy to become complacent in the wake of large-scale protests; just look at the decline of the Occupy Wall Street movement. With that in mind, here are 12 concrete actions to take now that the Women's March is over — because the fight itself is still going strong.
1Read The News Every Damn Day
Trump has only been president for five days, and it's already tempting to stuff our ears with cotton and hum until the next four years are over. But as infuriating and downright scary as his administration may be, complacency impedes progress just as much as conservative legislation by allowing it to pass unchecked.
Fortunately, there's an easy way to keep from falling prey to complacency: Read the news every day. You don't have to spend hours scrolling through the BBC Twitter feed, but make it a point to read at least three (reputable) news articles each day. It doesn't matter whether you read an article with every meal or get them all out of the way in the morning, but the important part is not to ignore things that make you uncomfortable. (You can also try inoculating yourself against fake news while you're at it.)
2Use The Word "Feminist"
"Feminism" is still a dirty word to many Americans, and despite popular perception of so-called "social justice warriors," this includes the younger generation. The best way to break down stigmas is by being open about the subject, so when gender equality comes up in conversation, don't shy away from the word "feminist." Use it.
3Donate To Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood has been at the center of efforts to restrict abortion in the United States. Mike Pence's unrelenting fight to defund the organization, which provides abortions among many other healthcare services, began in 2007, and 10 years later, that same man is now vice president. Given that women are demonstrably hurt when Planned Parenthood clinics shut down, it's more important than ever to support the organization and others like it. If you can afford it, donate — maybe even set up a small recurring donation.
4Support Abortion Rights
Even if you personally don't think you'd have an abortion, support the right of other people to make that decision for themselves. Research has shown that anti-abortion legislation doesn't reduce the actual number of procedures performed — it just makes them more dangerous, forcing people seeking them to turn to illegal methods.
5Throw A Political Action Party
Political actions like letter writing or calling representatives are important to making your voice heard. Unfortunately, it's also kind of boring and/or nerve-wracking to do by yourself. Get together some of your friends to take action with you — and make a party of it while you're at it.
6Support The American Civil Liberties Union
The ACLU has been defending civil liberties since 1920, and they've already requested documents regarding Trump's conflicts of interest as president. Consider donating to the organization or checking out their "Take Action" page.
7Join "Call Them In"
"Call Them In" is perfect for people who don't know how to directly oppose legislation. As the network explains on its website, "We do the research, write the scripts, and supply the numbers — all you need to do is make the call." Check out their website here.
8Run For Office
The most direct way to influence politics, of course, is to run for office. That's easier said than done, especially when you're a woman, but there are plenty of online guides to getting started. She Should Run and Emily's List are organizations dedicated to helping women get elected, so they're a good place to begin.
9Encourage Friends In Red States To Speak Out
If you live in a traditionally liberal state, your opinions will probably be in the majority. Encourage your friends in conservative states to speak out in favor of progress, because their representatives are the most worrisome.
10Regularly Attend Town Hall Meetings
Town hall meetings provide the public with opportunities to ask questions of government officials, and according to Indivisible's guide to political action, these meetings are an effective way of influencing politics and getting media attention. Make a goal to attend at least four this year — that's only one every three months.
11Sign Up For Action-Based Newsletters
Since the election, a number of political action-based newsletters have been established. These email lists provide daily, weekly, or monthly ways to influence local and national politics, and they're sometimes tailored to individual interests. Examples include Two Hours a Week, Daily Action Alerts, the Women's Guard, and more. Be sure to keep up with the Women's March's First 100 Days campaign as well.
12Amplify The Voices That Need To Be Heard The Most
Prior to the actual event, the Women's March was criticized for focusing on issues specific to white women while ignoring those affecting women of color. Three prominent organizers — Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsou — were subsequently brought on, and a set of "unity principles" were published which made an effort to include people of color and other minorities; however, despite the intentions of the organizers, the personal experiences of many marchers still showed that many of the march's more privileged participants still have a lot of work to do when it comes to checking that privilege.
This is just one example — and it is so, so important to give voices that might otherwise be silenced the opportunity to be heard. Hold other people (and yourself) accountable, be sensitive, and remember that you haven't lived the same experiences as someone else. Don't dismiss what they have to say, and try not to get defensive. Instead, listen closely and recognize when to step aside and let other people speak.
13Don't Lose Hope
Listen to the former FLOTUS up there and keep your spirits up. Given the number of people that attended the Women's March, Trump's presidency is being closely watched, and midterm elections are less than two years away (so start preparing now). In the words of the esteemed High School Musical, we're all in this together.