I’ll get right to it. There is a connection between the upcoming Women’s March and most other issues now faced in America: abuse of power. We have a lot to march against on Saturday, January 20. From the spate of sexual harassment revelations, to the denigration of women, blacks, LBGT, Muslims, Puerto Ricans, and countless others, and about every other attempt of the Trump administration to rob, lie and obfuscate, all amount to the same thing: flagrant abuse of power. As does the president’s wily lesson on how to get away with his offensives against democracy. We have much more to march against than we ever dreamed we would 12 months ago when we marched on January 21, 2017. Much more to march for, too – positive change and the votes that will get us there.
Not to weaken the women’s plight itself, nor of the millions of #MeToo struggles and sufferings, revealed recently and ongoing throughout history and around the world. The burgeoning number of sexual harassment cases and revelations of criminal abuse against girls and women is staggering.
So is it more a vibration in the atmosphere than an irony that my new book, The Berkeley Girl: Rendezvous in London, focuses on one young woman’s awakening to the causes and issues surrounding the then newly-revived 1960s feminist movement? The second-wave feminist movement [see inset, below] is where I picked up Janet Magill’s story in this sequel to The Berkeley Girl, Paris 1968. By reading her journey, I hope that you, both men and women, will be struck by the rightness of the cause she and her new British friend Lenore Phillips are out on the streets to support. You may learn surprising ways that women have been second-class citizens, even in enlightened nations in Europe and the Americas. Upon realizing how far we have come – and given the work that is left to be done and the attitudes to be dismantled! – you may be inspired to march with us this coming Saturday, January 20. Not just for women, but for all oppressed peoples, and under our current president, that is a broad majority!
This past year, sexual harassment and abuse revelations have grown exponentially, until today we have what may end up being termed the “fifth and final wave feminism.” Yes, I am hopeful. I do believe, given the courageous revelations of sexual harassment and the obvious enabling of misogyny by our president and so many others in respected, responsible positions of power, that we are entering this fifth wave. Perhaps this wave will wash over America to at last carry away the sting of knowing so many men condone “locker room” talk, violence against and denigration of half the population of the world.
But no matter what your gender or cause, it is useful to acknowledge that the rush of police brutality cases sparking the Black Lives Matter movement, the attack at Charlottesville, and many of the president’s unilateral actions and threatening tweets are the result of people abusing whatever power they have, at whatever level, to hurt and abuse those less powerful. The transfer of wealth from the 99% to the 1% is a kind of abuse of power, too, especially since the president is enriched by nearly every action he takes against the American people and democracy. These include extensive, under-reported actions to strip the environmental movement’s effectiveness, and to undermine government protections and the agencies provided for that purpose.
I am proud to know shining examples of men who have never indulged in “locker room talk,” let alone harassed a woman, and who will march with us on January 20. At the rally, to a greater extent than last year, we will hear about voting and running for office, and why we need to be motivated to work for change in the 2018 elections. One reason is because of the overarching issue today, related to but not restricted to women’s issues: the abuse of power.
Janet Magill in The Berkeley Girl: Rendezvous in London had to “reinvent” herself as she grew to understand more of life, love and the world. Learning about the trajectory of the feminist “movement” is an opportunity for you to do the same. Below is a summary of the “waves” of the feminist movement, with emphasis on the U.S. I thought some readers might appreciate this description, below, but please skip it if you know the history already!
First-wave feminism during the 19th and early 20th century focused on legal issues, primarily on gaining women’s suffrage (the right to vote). Second-wave feminism began in the early 1960s in the U.S., but many, like Janet Magill and my young self, too, did not fully engage until the end of the decade. Into the 70s, women struggled for equal rights, equal voice, equal pay, and equal control over their bodies and fates. The second-wave lasted until the 1980s, when a third-wave feminism evolved and lasted throughout the 1990s. This wave brought diversity to the movement, arising partially as a response to the perceived failures of and backlash against previous feminist initiatives. This wave brought in women of many ethnicities, nationalities, religions, and cultural backgrounds. The fourth-wave feminism began around 2008 with academics intensifying study of women’s issues, and is a movement that combines politics, psychology and spirituality in an overarching vision of change. See above, for my hopes for the “fifth and final wave”!*
*This section is my paraphrasing from various online sources.