Brett Kavanaugh’s bitter confirmation hearing, Donald Trump’s ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, migrant children held in cages and the president’s rage against immigrants, all propelled hundreds of thousands of passionate women into the streets.
“After the 2016 election, I was really scared. I was brought up and always told by my parents that I was equal, but now I’m afraid that I’m not being treated that way.” That was what Bethany, 17, told Hollywoodlife in an EXCLUSIVE interview at the 3rd annual New York City Women’s March on January 19th. Her feelings were echoed by the score of young women that we talked to along the crowded route.
While the crowds across the country were not quite as massive as they had been in the previous two years, Manhattan’s West Side was still a sea of women in pink pussy hats, carrying signs and chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go.” And the young women that Hollywoodlife spoke with were ardent about why they were devoting their day to standing up for women’s rights and empowerment.
“Locker room talk has now been normalized by the Trump administration and now I don’t feel safe and comfortable in my own country,” Bethany explained. Cathy McQuillan, who was marching with six members of her family including her sisters, daughters and young nieces was clear that, “We’re anti-Trump and pro-women. To have a cabinet where you are surrounded by men who look exactly like you and think exactly like you is not a good mix for any organization”.
Trump’s handling of immigration, also propelled the McQuillan family into marching. “How he’s treated other people and families, is deplorable. And how he’s treated our international friends and neighbors., she aded.” The NYC march was notably younger than it has been in previous years, with several of the women that we talked to, telling us that they had just voted for the first time in the 2018 midterm elections or were psyched to vote in 2020.
Olivia Pelkey and Caroline Baldwin, both 16, vowed that they’ll be voting in 2020. “We’re here because of the general treatment of women. It scares us that the leader of our country talks about women the way he does We deserve to be respected,” they said explaining that they had organized a Global Women’s Advocacy Club at their high school and were leading the group on the march. The state of the environment was also a huge concern for them. “We were shocked that Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. It makes no sense. We need a world in the future.”
Friends Zara, Salma and Abnan, all 18, told Hollywoodlife that they were heartened by the record number of women elected to Congress in the 2018 midterms but pointed out that they still occupy just 20 percent of the seats. “A lot of improvement still must be made,” insisted Zara. Furthermore, all three are deeply concerned by how the Trump administration is restricting immigration and demonizes immigrants.
“We’re 2nd and 3rd generation Americans but people still look at us like we’re different. You’d think we’d be seen as a part of America. We’re part of it’s history, we’re part of jobs, the economy, art, everything – but at the end of the day, we’re still viewed as immigrants,” laments Zara, whose family originally came from Pakistan. Salma’s family background is Egyptian but she adamantly says, “We make up America. America is more than Trump’s ideology. America is about diversity and that’s what makes it unique.”
“My dad came from Pakistan in the 1980’s,” she shares, “and he went from scrubbing toilets to driving taxis to building his own business. He put blood, sweat and tears into this American dream and that’s what immigrants are here to do, so it’s ridiculous that we have a government shutdown going on because of a wall.”
Immigration issues were also a driving factor among marchers, even those who didn’t come from immigrant families.
“The wall, the shutdown, the immigration policies are deplorable,” bemoaned Ashley, who came with her two daughters, Alanna, 15 and Gabrielle, 13. “My girls insisted that we come and I want them to feel empowered. I think it’s critical that we stand up for what we believe in and furthermore it’s up to us to make decisions about our bodies, and not rich men.”
Well said. Now, if the Trump administration doesn’t listen to these concerns, watch out – these women will speak loudly and clearly when they march to the polls in 2020.