Female Fighters Series Re-Examines Women’s Rage Around the World - Guernica
In his first week in office, President Trump and his legion of corporates and billionaires declared war on women by imposing global health restrictions on funding of NGOs that provide abortions; war on indigenous people by pledging to build the Keystone pipeline and reinstate the Dakota Access pipeline; war on the arts by threatening to end the NEA; war against women’s bodies by threatening to gut the DOJ’s Violence Against Women and defund Planned Parenthood; war on the earth by denying climate change, signing off on massive deregulations and hiring the head of Exxon as secretary of state; war on even our ability to dissent by declaring the press the opposition party. This is an all-out assault.
The Trump administration is asserting its power to undo years of social justice work, and is doing so with arrogance and aggression, and no ear for irony. Only a day after the women’s march where around five million people took to the streets across the world, it gutted funding for women’s health. On Holocaust Remembrance Day it barred Muslim refugees from seven countries from entering the US and announced the imminent building of a wall between the US and Mexico. The question we are confronted with every moment of every day of this new administration is what does a majority population do when our values, laws, rights, and humanity are being destroyed by a minority government that has total control of the executive, while the legislative branch exerts no meaningful check even as that power runs amok? How do people protect the marginalized populations under siege—or themselves? When every right and freedom is under attack, what kind of response is required? What do disempowered populations do with their rage and injury when they feel so utterly disregarded and attacked? What responsibilities do we have when we see a regime that has the potential to destroy this country and the world?
These are huge questions and I think this series could not arrive at a more important time.
Around the world, women have been suffering political oppression and worse for years, but we do not expect them to be violent. We tell ourselves that women who take up guns are aberrations. We are terrified of women’s rage, their fierceness, and their righteousness, so we create narratives and projections that deny their power of agency and authority. We tell ourselves that they kill for their husbands, that they are merely pawns, used and misused in a men’s game. They don’t have their own politics. Not “real” politics. They get drawn into “bad” situations against their will. They don’t know what they’re doing. We frame these stories any number of ways, but make sure that militant women are never the central characters, never voicing and determining their own story. This is far easier than confronting the depth of female commitment, radicalism, and vision. How does a mother watch her baby starve or her daughter be raped by soldiers of mining companies occupying her land without retaliating? How does a women continue on when she herself has been raped and re-raped by soldiers in a war fought over her country’s resources? How do women not go insane when they witness the daily assault of corporations and their proxy militias on their land, their water, their children, their husbands, their sons?