SIGNS OF THE TIMES: THE WOMEN'S MARCH

Well that’s it, he’s in the White House. It wasn’t a nightmare or Obama’s final prank. If like me, your weekend’s Instagram feed was flooded with placards from the 2.9 million people around the world who took part in the Women’s Marches then let me explain some of those very witty (but also terrifying) signs to you. This is how President Trump hopes to affect the things you care about, or how he would if you were born into your doppelgänger’s life on the other side of the Atlantic.

 @emmathefeminist

@emmathefeminist

‘Bisexuals are just confused by your ignorance’ 

With hundreds of Washington’s LGBTQ-supporting community dancing to Rihanna outside of Trump’s right hand man and newly elected Vice-president Mike Pence’s Washington home at the beginning of the week, you’d suspect something was amiss. I’ll give you a hint, this wasn’t a welcome party. In his previous role as Governor of Indiana, Pence cut funding to Planned Parenthood, America’s main not-for-profit healthcare group, some of which provide abortion services but all of which provide family planning and contraceptive services for all genders and sexualities. Pence also signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law which allows individuals and companies to assert that their religious expression has been substantially burdened as a defense in legal proceedings. Under Pence a pastor could potentially refuse to marry a same sex couple despite same-sex marriage being legalised nationwide under Obama. Day to day, a shop owner could refuse to serve a LGBTQ person without any legal ramifications. 

In a statement on his website Pence wrote that congress should ‘ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour.’ Unnervingly many have interpreted this to mean Pence will divert funding towards institutions which offer conversion therapy, a practice that – despite being illegal in some states – is still exercised throughout America and is based on the widely-discredited belief that homosexuality is a learned behaviour that can be reconditioned.

 @ewingphotos

@ewingphotos

‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fundamental Human Rights’ 

We’ve all heard Trump boasting that due to his fame he can “grab [a woman] by the pussy” and his recommendation that “you have to treat 'em like shit”, but his sexism goes far deeper than objectifying women. “I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing,” said Trump in a 1994 interview with ABC News, “Unfortunately, after they're a star, the fun is over for me. It’s like a creation process. It's almost like creating a building. It's pretty sad.” Trump’s words make women his play things; they can be grabbed and built but not set to work. In 2015 women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid, with some states dropping as low as 64%. If change continues at the painfully slow rate seen since 2001 — and it’s difficult to see it increasing under the Trump administration — women will not reach pay equity with men until 2152. In his 2016 election campaign Trump hardly clarified the matter, stating that “When you have to categorise men and women into a particular group and a particular pay scale, it gets very… because people do different jobs”, and refused to commit to any policy proposals.

 @benjaminnorton

@benjaminnorton

‘Will swap one Donald Trump for 10,000 refugees’ 

Anyone who has travelled into the USA can vouch for their tough security. Even as a white British-born woman I have been intimidatingly interrogated to the point where I forgot where I’d come from and the surname of the person I was to be staying with, all whilst guards with assault rifles patrolled up and down the lines of people behind me. Friends of different ethnicities have spoken of the guaranteed cavity search they have come to expect every time they visit the USA. If this behaviour is just for a holiday visit (the US demands that you show your return plane ticket to be permitted entry) then imagine trying to get a Green Card. Trump plays on the fear the world has shared since the events of 9/11; there is an underlying national anxiety about the threat of terrorism across America that he uses to his advantage to spread suspicion against anyone he considers ‘other’. Many of Trump’s supporters were sold on ideals of Patriotism, of an America for the Americans. Trump swore to subject refugees to “extreme vetting” and enveloped his supporters in mistrust of those claiming asylum with memorable yet lazy metaphors, “I always say, Trojan horse. Watch what’s going to happen, folks. It’s not going to be pretty.” The US screening process for refugees is elaborate and thorough; it is a two year process with consultation from nine different government agencies. Trump does know who these people are, he just wants you to mistrust them. 

 @karleyslutever

@karleyslutever

‘If I wanted the government in my womb I would fuck a senator’

Here in the UK, we’re a fan of abortions. No not the act itself - we’re not animals - but a fan of allowing one to anyone who needs one. In fact, nearly one in three women will have one in their lifetime. The Republicans think this is too high; with approximately eighty-seven years of fertility between these hypothetical three women (based on the average age of a girl hitting puberty being 12, and the average age of menopause being 51) one making a mistake one time is apparently unforgivable. Let’s not forget it takes two to tango.

 @1sweet_world

@1sweet_world

‘Planned Parenthood is the solution not the problem’

There is no National Healthcare System in America. Obama tried to change this with his Affordable Care Act, but as it stands people pay for their own abortions. Today Planned Parenthood is the largest single provider of abortion in the US, but in its 2013-14 report that amounted to just 3% of overall services provided. 42% were for STD testing and 34% for contraceptive services, alongside the pap smears, breast exams and colonoscopies they provide. Yes Trump, they are also saving lives. Abortions are not free in the USA. No matter if the baby is the result of rape or if there is danger to mother, abortions can run as high as $3,275 (£2,629) depending how far along in the pregnancy you are. But even a non-medical abortion is $605 (£485) at Planned Parenthood. Prices increase with anesthetic so some women – like Jemima Kirke, star of TV series Girls who recently shared her story – have to go without. And if you’re sat there thinking ‘Well I’ve never had an abortion’, bear in mind that the morning after pill can cost up to $67 (£54) a pop. 

Worse than cutting off Planned Parenthood’s funding however, would be cutting off the law that allows them to operate by banning abortion. At the Republican debate in Feb 2016, having declared himself pro-life, Trump told us “They have millions of women going through Planned Parenthood that are helped greatly. And I wouldn't fund it. I would defund it because of the abortion factor.” Trump hopes to put the law back into the hands of the individual states, aka back into the hands of some of Pence’s peers. Making ‘America great again’, as Trump’s slogan insists he will, should not mean dividing it into states with opposing laws and ideas about how a society should function for its members. 

 @iamn0ty0urstar

@iamn0ty0urstar

‘I wish my uterus shot bullets so the gov’t wouldn’t regulate it’ @iamn0ty0urstar

Forty-four years ago the landmark case Roe vs. Wade recognised that the constitutional right to privacy encompasses a woman making personal medical decisions, including having an abortion. Mike Pence is a vocal anti-abortion campaigner, in fact in the run up to the elections he stated, “We'll see Roe vs. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.” As Governor of Indiana in March 2016 he attempted to pass a law which required all fetal tissue to be cremated or buried no matter the length of pregnancy or cause of its termination. This meant that if a woman miscarried at home she would have to keep the tissue and either take it to a clinic or have it buried or cremated by a funeral home. Cleverly for Pence’s agenda if this law had passed the cost to clinics of this method of disposal would also dramatically increase the price of abortions. Perhaps Trump’s assertion that women who have abortions “should be punished” means hitting them in his most-feared place, the wallet; as if they haven’t the brain to understand the depth of their actions.

If abortions aren’t going to be an option in Trump’s America, surely they’re going to up the contraception education? Which brings me succinctly and sanitarily onto the next thing we should worry about, whether we’re moving to the US or just got that Blink 182-faced boy coming to visit from LA; STDs.

 @avalonnehall

@avalonnehall

‘Health care for all is a primary human right’

On a chat show in 1997 Trump described his survival of many trysts without catching a sexual disease as his “own personal Vietnam”, so don’t expect any increased sensitivity on issues he should take a personal interest in. With combined rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in the US at their highest in 20 years, now is not the time to cut funding to the organisations such as Planned Parenthood which help to prevent them. The US is divided (surprise surprise) as to whether abstinence-only programs (Republicans) or a more comprehensive sexual education (Democrats) is the right way to go to decrease teen pregnancy and STD rates. Currently sex-ed policies vary from state to state, and many of the more conservative states promote abstinence-until-marriage as the primary method of avoiding unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. In states which do not allow same sex marriage this reinforces lapsing gender stereotypes and stigmatises both female and male sexuality, impeding access to sexual health information and contraceptives. Ladies and gentlemen, it doesn’t matter how bewitching your Instagram friend’s Californian accent is, please use your education and use a condom. If all else fails, GetTested.com’s viral advert which shows a girl waking up next to Trump after a night out should convince you use one, or to order one of their home testing kits. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that currently in the US one in two black men who has sex with men will become HIV positive. This is a shocking statistic for a nation which thinks the HIV epidemic is a thing of the past. In 2015 Mike Pence presided over a huge HIV outbreak in Indiana, declaring a public health emergency and – despite being openly against the practice – giving clean needle exchanges the go ahead to open for thirty days. Pence voted against the Affordable Care Act, the first health care system to guarantee coverage for those needing treatment for HIV. As heath care is private in the USA, most insurers will not cover someone with a pre-existing HIV diagnosis. This makes the life-saving medicine which prevents treatable HIV turning into terminal AIDS very expensive and for many unaffordable. In his first few days in office, Trump has already signed an executive order to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

As Trump was inaugurated some information quietly disappeared from the White House website. The history of civil rights has been replaced by a page entitled ‘Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community’, all mentions of climate change have gone as has the page about LGBT rights. At the time of writing he has cut US funding completely to international family planning programs to ensure no federal dollars are spent on abortions. This is despite the Helms amendment being in place since 1973, an agreement which prevents tax-payers money from funding abortion. Walking past a café this morning I heard some very late Christmas hymns being carried out of the door on the croissant-scented air. Usually out-of-season festive cheer would put a grin on my face that lasts the morning, but today it felt like the band playing as the Titanic sunk.

 Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

See some ways you can “Fight like a girl” here:  

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/get-involved 

https://99waystofighttrump.com/