FREE SPEECH: Equality State, 2.0

By on January 17, 2017

A women’s march this weekend in Casper will draw supporters from Jackson Hole.

Wyoming suffragists at the polls in Cheyene circa 1888. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Wyoming suffragists at the polls in Cheyene circa 1888. (Photo: Library of Congress)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Millions of “nasty women” decked out in pussy gear galore will take to the streets Saturday, January 21, one day after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. The main march, Women’s March on Washington, happens in Washington, D.C., with hundreds of affiliate marches taking places in cities and towns across the country. Casper, Wyoming, is one of those cities, and a contingent of Jackson women intend to be there.

Some local women have cited personal reasons for attending, like Anne Marie Wells, who is helping to organize the Jackson group.

“I am completely devastated that an admitted sexual assailant is going to be our president,” she said. “One in three women will be abused in their lifetime, that means a third of the women who voted for Trump will be or have been assaulted in their lifetime, and yet they still voted for someone who will do that to other women.”

Like Wells, many women feel a personal sense of threat or attack is looming with the incoming administration. Trump has spoken openly about assaulting women and his vice president, Mike Pence, has an anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ track record.

However, marches this weekend are not necessarily focused on the incoming administration and instead aim to mobilize people around social justice. The organizers of Women’s March on Washington released their guiding vision last week.

“Our liberation is bound in each other’s,” the statement reads. “The Women’s March on Washington includes leaders of organizations and communities that have been building the foundation for social progress for generations. We welcome vibrant collaboration and honor the legacy of the movements before us—the suffragists and abolitionists, the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement, the American Indian Movement, Occupy Wall Street, Marriage Equality, Black Lives Matter, and more.”

By situating WMW as part of this historical legacy, the organizers tie themselves to a powerful set of allies past, present and future.

“I think that’s very important to identify those intersections of feminism and to support each other in that way,” Wells said. “And to realize that the life of an upper class white woman is going to be different from a queer woman or a woman of color. It’s important to recognize those differences, support each other and stand behind each other.”

About 20 people attended the first Jackson meeting for the Casper march. Organizers held another meeting Sunday to make signs and discuss effective protest protocol. “All our signs will be messages of hope and peace and not messages of negativity or vulgarity,” Wells said.

In Casper, organizers aren’t sure how many people to expect. “The march is for women and their allies and marginalized people, because it’s not just women who will be hurt by policies being discussed in Washington,” said Jane Ifland, coordinator for the Casper march. Similar marches are planned in Cheyenne and Cody, Ifland added.

The Casper march is also nonpartisan. Ifland says she specifically wanted the march to be open to anybody who voted for Trump but disagrees with his approach to social justice. “We see the need to assert the rights of not just women, but also all members of our diverse communities,” she said. “The strength of our nation lies in our diversity, and defending the dignity and equality of all our people is defending America’s highest ideals.”

Similarly, the march’s national leaders set out a broad platform based on diversity in their vision statement. A key component of that diversity is a commitment to LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) rights.

“We firmly declare that LGBTQIA Rights are human rights and that it is our obligation to uplift, expand and protect the rights of our gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans or gender non-conforming brothers, sisters and siblings,” the statement reads.

Local members of the LGBTQ community, like Wells, say they fear a backlash against queer-identified people as Trump takes office. “For me as a queer person, it hits really personally that such a significant portion of my nation voted for that anti-LGBTQ platform,” Wells said. “Whatever reason was more important to them than voting for someone who sees me as an equal human being. Now I fear for my safety and the safety of my friends.”

Casper’s march begins at 200 S. Beech at noon Saturday, January 21. Protestors will march west on Second Street and end up at The Lyric civic auditorium, where there will be informational booths by social justice and women’s organizations, as well as discussion and training groups.

For more info, visit the Women’s March–Wyoming Casper Facebook page, PJH

About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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