On Wednesday, American women will boycott work and domestic labor marking a day without a woman. Women in Ireland will protest against their countrys abortion ban, a law Amnesty International has called draconian. And in Brazil, women will be marching against the epidemic of gendered violence.
While we all celebrate International Womens Day in different ways, theres one under-discussed issue I hope all of us will take up the way racist policies across the globe are being enacted under the guise of protecting women.
When Donald Trump signed a revised executive order banning immigration from six Muslim-majority countries this week, for example, the discriminatory and probably illegal mandate included an odd promise to collect and disseminate statistics about gender-based violence against women, including so-called honor killings by foreign nationals.
Strangely absent was the promise to keep track of domestic violence murders by American men, or to highlight how women who are murdered by their partners are most likely to be killed using a gun.
This is an administration that plans to gut funding for violence against women programs an administration led by a man who brags about groping women and who seems happy to hire men who have been accused of beating women. This is not a White House that cares about keeping women safe; instead they feign feminist concern in order to excuse targeting immigrant men.
Stoking racial hatred by invoking the protection of women white women, in particular is nothing new in the United States, of course. The fear of rape has historically been used to justify horrific violence against American black men, a shameful practice that lingers even today: when Dylann Roof killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in South Carolina in 2015, he told churchgoers, you rape our women.
Were also well-acquainted with political violence in the name of protecting women. Before President George W Bush was laughing up his oh-so-adorable poncho mishap on daytime television, he was justifying the deadly invasion of Afghanistan by claiming it was in part to liberate women suffering under Taliban rule.
And now we have Trump, who claims we need to build a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants because theyre rapists, and who plans to track crimes committed by immigrants a tactic also employed in Nazi Germany against Jewish people.
Around the world, similarly xenophobic and racist ideas are being touted again, using the lie of protecting women to hurt marginalized communities. This year in Germany, the daily newspaper the Bild had to retract a fake story claiming a mob of Muslim refugees sexually assaulted women on New Years Eve. And in 2016, a Polish magazine ran a cover that pictured a screaming white woman being assaulted by multiple men; the headline translated to, The Islamic Rape of Europe.
The truth is anti-immigrant policies are much more likely to hurt women than help them; look no further than the undocumented woman in Texas who was arrested while seeking a protective order against an abusive partner. Or how immigrant and refugee women across the world are at an increased risk for sexual assault and rape.
Despite the hurdles in front of us, feminists are in a moment of great power the world is watching as millions of us march, boycott and demand change. In this moment, we cannot let racist leaders wield feminist rhetoric as a weapon to hurt men of color. We have to stop them from cynically co-opting our movement to create a world of fear and hatred. Not just on International Womens Day, but every day.