Anyone who’s been on social media during the past few days has been privy to the difference of opinions on the second annual Women’s March events which recently took place. There is a strong divide between those who think the marches are advantageous and those who view them as counter-productive to the women’s movement.
An event titled “The Women’s March” should be all-inclusive, however, there have been numerous accounts stating the opposite. Organizing these events without fair representation for women of color or women, who are part of the LGBTQ community as speakers, is anything but unifying. It should go without saying that all women should feel as though they are being represented. If people leave the event feeling forgotten, we need to do better. Period.
While looking through photos of signs from the marches, there is an obvious theme: anti-Trump, which I have several grievances with. First, women did not start being paid unequally when Trump took office. Women did not start being sexually assaulted when Trump took office. Women did not start being belittled when Trump took office. These injustices have been around since before we were born. The difference now is that people are more comfortable speaking out about it. Second, the term “tiny hands” is referring to his penis (ew), thus, signs with that written on it seem a bit hypocritical. Third, the over-abundance of “Impeach Trump” signs are completely off topic. Would he be impeached for saying “grab her by the pussy?” Would he be impeached for having a consensual relationship with an adult film star? Would he be impeached for his sexism and xenophobia? Nope.
Of course, there were the repeat signs of “If Hillary won, we’d all be at brunch.” That statement is exactly what’s wrong within the movement. If you consider it an actual chore to come out and march, you’re not an activist. You are a person who is being temporarily inconvenienced for one day a year and thinking you are some kind of hero for it. Say whatever you want about Trump, most of us are well aware he is disgusting. But if there is one thing we can credit him with, it’s inadvertently getting otherwise apathetic people to wake the hell up and get active.
I, and many other progressive activists, would prefer seeing more signs of substance addressing actual issues. It would certainly be more effective. Having millions of people unifying for healthcare, counseling services for abuse victims, a woman’s right to choose, etc. would be incredibly powerful. Unfortunately, in too many locations, that doesn’t seem to be what happened.
How many of these women marched when Bill Clinton was accused by 15 different women of either sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape? How about when he paid one of them $70,000 to keep quiet? Women carrying signs which say things like “always believe them” or “tell them to speak out” while wearing Hillary buttons and shirts are an abhorrent display of hypocrisy. She stayed with him, made excuses for him, enabled him and even bullied his accusers. Granted, he was a Democrat President, not a Republican one, so I guess that makes his actions permissible to many Democrats.
At the women’s march in Philadelphia last year, I was vote-shamed numerous times for admitting I didn’t vote for Queen Hillary. I was told that I was sexist to vote for a man when there was a woman on the ballot. Interestingly enough, the man I voted for (twice) is the only one who cared enough to attend to the first women’s march. (Oh, the irony!)
Something else many attendees across the country have seen is the pure disdain some women have for potential male allies, simply because they have a penis. It’s truly unfortunate that some women promote the “all men are the same” garbage. Kind of sounds like what we don’t like men saying about us. When women automatically and prematurely isolate men this way, it stops being about equality and starts being about superiority.
Last year, when the so-called “pink pussy hats” became so popular, I couldn’t fathom why they were being called that. (Actually, I still can’t.) As women, weren’t so many of us outraged by a certain someone saying “grab her by the pussy” ? Why would we use the same word for a trendy uniform of a women’s event, directly relating to something which upset the women’s movement? Additionally, the “p” word is often used as an insult to mean “weak” , or “fragile” . (And not everyone’s is “pink” , btw.)
And of course, I couldn’t write this article without addressing the fantastic vagina costumes. My first thought when I saw one, was “oh my gods; I hope mine doesn’t look like that” . Then, I thought about whether or not the women wearing them genuinely believe they are being taken seriously. What are they hoping to accomplish by wearing them? Is it meant to bring humor to the serious issues, which should be prevalent? I mean, you could have the most profound words on your sign or coming out of your mouth, but I’m still going to be giving you the stank-eye if you’re in a costume.
It takes a lot to offend me, but is this seriously what we’re being reduced to? Big, pink cushions making some oversized, anatomically incorrect female genitals? (I never thought I’d type those words in an article.) Can you fathom being on stage, sharing your personal story about rape or homelessness or sickness and looking out at the crowd, spotting some grown women in pink, pillowy, cartoonish vagina costumes? Frankly, it’s disgusting and the fact that there was way more than one of them, is repulsive. “Don’t treat me like I’m just a vagina” , but “I have a costume to make; hold my beer” . Doesn’t wearing a full-body costume of a vagina, indeed imply that we are just a vagina? (A vagina with a turtleneck and leggings). Nothing to see here.
Also, if you don’t understand why some women of color are offended by a pussy hat being placed on a statue of Harriet Tubman, please ask them to elaborate. Things like that are more important than a cute photo-op.
Even as a woman, I cringe at the signs with things like bloody tampons, drawn on them. Again, what the hell is the point? Is it implying, if you don’t bleed, you aren’t a woman? Some young girls, women experiencing menopause, trans women and women with certain medical needs, may disagree with that sentiment.
In Los Angeles, Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon was a guest speaker at the Women’s March. Yes, that Anthony Rendon. Why in the hell would women want the man who quelled Medicare for All, to speak at their event? Medicare for All directly affects women, correct? Women die from lack of healthcare. Women file bankruptcy from lack of healthcare. Victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault cannot get counselling due to a lack of healthcare. Planned Parenthood services are also linked to healthcare. I find it hard to believe that this was just an oversight. Thankfully, some bad-ass warriors decided to chant and protest as soon as Rendon took the mic. His speech ended rather abruptly.
In New Hampshire, Congressional candidate Mindi Messmer was invited to speak at their Women’s March. After she accepted, however, she was uninvited. Why, you ask? Because she suspended her campaign? No. Because she was doing something ethically wrong? No. Essentially, a man she is running against threw a hissy-fit that he wasn’t getting the same “air time.” While I’m sure things like that aren’t terribly rare, what’s incredible is that the organizers actually relented. Are we that submissive? Extending an invitation to a woman and then uninviting the woman because a man insisted we need to? That doesn’t appear very “feminist” . Due to much outrage, the organizers did re-invite Mindi to speak. Being incredibly classy, she agreed again. (I will be interviewing her on my Real Progressive’s show, Friday, February 9th.)
As someone who has organized many events, I like them to be organic. For some reason, walking on the sidewalk and selling souvenir coffee mugs, doesn’t typically excite me to fight for the things I’m passionate about. There have also been complaints of too much of a invasive police presence, making some attendees feel uneasy. This should have been considered. How many of our transgender allies and people of color have died at the hands of a police officer? It is completely insensitive to ignore that fact while organizing.
To clarify, I am sure there are plenty of women who organized and attended the women’s marches in a stellar way. Attendees and organizers who are 100% down with fighting for and supporting women. My sincere appreciation to those of you who put so much time and effort into something this important.
That being said, if the things I’ve stated do not apply to the particular march you attended, celebrate that. Take pride in that. Too many women are getting defensive instead of proactively talking to the organizers in other cities who could use critiques and guidance to make their next Women’s March more successful and inclusive. We can‘t keep preaching “unity” otherwise.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying, “if you want it done right, do it yourself” and that’s what I and other activists in Pennsylvania, New York, and California are doing. On June 10th, we will be holding marches focusing primarily on women of color, women of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, victims of domestic violence, women who have suffered from lack of healthcare, women who fall below the poverty guidelines, and so on. These marches will be representative of ALL women. The many, beautiful women with stories to tell and goosebumps to cause. No celebrities, corporate sponsors, “impeach Trump” signs or vagina costumes necessary. We will be handing out information for crisis centers as well as collecting items for local women’s shelters. These events are being created to address the issues so many women are facing, even after January 20th.
We have the potential for another nationwide march for women. We have far too many causes supporting women’s issues to condense them into a few hours once a year. Many of us stay active throughout, but how many don’t? The issues don’t stop when the pussy hats come off. We have so much work to be done and the more people who get involved, the more affective our fight will be. There are countless ways to make a difference throughout the year. It doesn’t always need to be a huge, nationwide event. Also, 2018 is here. It’s an opportune time to look into your local elections. Do the research and find out the best, progressive candidates for women’s issues. As we all know, we are the media.
I know “#Resist” shit is catchy and all, but we’ve been “resisting” for over a year and where has it gotten us? That word continuously gets used, but what does it accomplish? It certainly doesn’t stop any harmful legislation or prevent any fascism we’re experiencing. We need to retire that word and concept. It implies we are withstanding what we’re being subjected to, but not demanding anything in return. It’s time to revolt. (Yes, nonviolently.) We the People need to take a stand and try another approach. We need to be more active and get others to join us. Future generations will learn about this horrendous time (poor things) and they are going to ask us what we did during it. Answering that we marched in pink hats once a year, is not sufficient. We need to do better.
Aligned with many other women, I have chosen not to refer to myself as a “feminist” anymore. It was once used to define strong women, yet has now evolved into something with negative connotations. I am hopeful that eventually we can get back to the original meaning of that word, however, it’s going to take a lot of us. We can do this. Be strong. Be active. Be diverse. Be proud.
Livestreamer, interviewer and writer with Real Progressives