Politics

On The Women’s March, Inclusivity, and Intersectionality.

After any progressive movement, there are always going to be leftists that want to analyze every facet of the movement, and criticize every corner. I think this is great and it should keep happening. I do believe that the Women’s March that happened on January 21st, 2017 was probably the largest scale protest thus far that included intersectionality as a part of the agenda. The chairs of the march were diverse, and the speakers were as well, talking about many issues, and mentioning intersectionality as an important part of this protest and of feminism itself.

 At the Women's March in NYC

At the Women's March in NYC

This being said, there were plenty of problematic parts of the movement, and those do need to be called out. I personally love the symbolism of the cat hats and posters as a way of criticizing what actually came out of Donald Trump’s mouth. I also just love cats and the color pink. I do think that more could have been done though, (and this is coming from a person who had a “pussy bites back sign”) to include transgender women and people into the protest. For myself personally, it was liberating to refer to my body, because it is something that I have felt embarrassed or ashamed of. While us cis-gender women used these symbols to embrace our freedom, it does not mean that our bodily freedom is the only freedom to fight for in the feminist movement. I think the hats could have been in the colors of the transgender flag, or perhaps the organizers could have stressed all of us to wear pins or carry flags. I think the pussy symbol is very powerful, and I believe it is useful. But I want transgender women to feel included as well. My cat symbols, I want you to know, are meant to fight for all of us. At the end of the day, regardless of whether we are cis- or trans- women, our bodies are being policed. Men in government are still trying to police our ability to be sovereign over our own bodies. If you are transgender, a man still thinks he has the right to "grab you." In that sense, having some sort of symbol to take our bodies back in solidarity is necessary. Not to mention, “pussy” and “vagina” are still seen as dirty words. Talking about your period is still taboo. These issues are STILL important. But they are not all-inclusive. I would have liked to see more trans- inclusivity, not at the expense of the other symbols, but in partnership with them. Us cis-gendered women need to understand our privilege. Transgender people have grown up feeling that they cannot express themselves freely, and transgender women (especially women of color) are some of the most at-risk in our society of experiencing hate crimes. It’s a problem. Transgender women need to be visible in our third wave feminist movement.

Also, on the hats, there is some confusion over the color pink, and why it was used. Some people thought that the pink was used to refer to the color of a vulva being pink, therefore being exclusionary of women of color. This is not the case, according to the pussyhat project, the color was simply meant to be a statement, and to reclaim being “unapologetically feminine.” I can understand that traditionally feminine qualities are not representative of all or even most women, but as the website points out, qualities that are traditionally seen as “feminine” have long been seen as negative or weak, and reclaiming these qualities as giving us strength can be empowering. Symbolically speaking, the color pink is used to represent “caring, compassion, and love” which are undervalued in our society, and may be seen as feminine. They are not feminine qualities though, and are human. Color psychology and symbolism aside, these are qualities that we as a movement must have in order to succeed together. Pink does happen to represent these qualities spiritually, in literature, art, and in history, and therefore I do believe that pink was a good choice for representing strength and unity. (I also can’t help it—I really adore anything that is pink, so I will admit a bias.)

Furthermore, I saw plenty of problematic signs. Any sign depicting rape was insensitive and disturbing. I am not a survivor of sexual assault or violence, but seeing Trump assaulting our Statue of Liberty was sickening. I never want to see that image without a trigger warning. It is a smart political cartoon and observation, sure. It is provocative, and it is true. But that negativity does not have to be a part of our movement. I saw some signs that accessorized minorities to white women. All of the pussy signs I am taking as commentary and reclaiming reproductive rights and our bodies, but of course I can see how a trans woman might feel excluded. I have read that there was hostility towards women of color for creating division or destroying unity in the movement. To that, I would like to say: please shut the fuck up. First of all, white cishet ladies: we had our movement. It was suffrage. And then we had another movement, and it was second wave feminism. Third wave feminism is intersectional and if it is not, it’s not feminism anymore. It was problematic enough that women of color had been left out of suffrage, as Susan B Anthony acted in racist ways. It continued to be problematic that lesbian women had to be called the “purple menace” by the woman who partially started second wave feminism, Betty Friedan. That is part of our past. We need to learn and grow from that. It is the turn for minority women to be heard. As women, we all face many of the same problems. BUT, as one becomes more marginalized, the problems multiply. Third wave feminism needs to hear and create solutions to all of these problems. Those whose voices had been silenced for so long need to be our leaders. And us white women have to talk less, and listen more. Then together, we can stand in solidarity knowing that there was no person left behind.

So carry on ladies, and allies! This Trump fight is just beginning, but the fight against oppression has been a long-winded battle since this Native American land was colonized. I am upset about Trump, and I am upset about the increase of Nazi and white supremacist affiliations gaining legitimacy. A part of me wants to believe that this pushback might be the final pushback until we forever say we will stand for this no more. As Bono writes in Yahweh, “Why the dark before the dawn?” as this seems to be the constant pattern and struggle of life. But we must fight to see the dawn. I have faith that we can. The future is female <3 . 

BL ☾