On Jan. 21, 2017, the Women’s March on Keene saw over 300 participants protest against Trump’s inauguration. It was described as being in solidarity with the turnout in Washington, D.C., and Shay Riley, who created the event, said the march “…will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world, that women’s rights are human rights.” The 2017 marches were held internationally; upwards of 5 million attended various marches in the U.S. alone, which is pretty insane. There was even a march in Antarctica, which thrills me and I have no idea why. It’s probably because of the absolutely adorable “Penguins March for Peace” sign that I just saw.
A series of Women’s Marches were held this past week, but this time they came under a little more fire, with some saying that they were cis-centric rather than inclusive. People said that the Women’s March focused on cis-white women (women who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth) rather than women has a whole.
NBC reported that marchers in Pensacola, Fla., were asked to leave their pink, “pussy” hats at home this year for two reasons: It reinforces the notion that you must have a vagina to be a woman, and that all vaginas are pink, making it a white, Eurocentric idea.
That request didn’t exactly go over well once it was posted on Facebook; one women commented, “It was a symbol that brought us all together. Mine is blue and says Michigan….Things like this will destroy the movement.”
The Pussy Hat Project has stated that pink was only chosen for being associated with women and femininity, and the reference to pussy is a response to the president’s infamous “grab them by the p—-” comment in regards to how he, a man with daughters, who has been married multiple times, likes to treat women.
In a broader sense, people said that women were only marching because they don’t like Trump and not because of bigger issues, such as how transgender women (especially of color) are being treated like second-class citizens and sometimes murdered just for existing; Fast Company reported that out of the 102 transgender people killed in the United States in the last five years, 75 were black or African-American. Some of the women who have been photographed marching also seem to hold less than flattering views, carrying signs saying stuff like, “Transwomen are men; don’t believe the hype! Trans ideology is misogyny and homophobia.”
I’m about 99 percent sure she just strung a few big words together in a sentence in the hopes that it would make sense, but I digress.
The general consensus seems to be that the Women’s March has taken a stance on marching for equality for cisgender white women only. It’s kind of like Free the Nipple 2.0, where it started out as something awesome and cool until it became white-centered and failed to focus on the larger, more pressing issues that other women face, like the fact that Native American women are ten times more likely to be a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence than other women in the U.S., according to the Indian Law Resource Center. Or the fact that 28 trans people were murdered in 2017 – and those are just the incidents that the Human Rights Watch has recorded. That was also from November, so there’s always the sad likelihood that the number went up.
Women have always felt that the Women’s March wasn’t inclusive, and it’s obvious that this sentiment has only grown within the past year – USA Today pointed out that over half of white women voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential elections (and let’s get real, you probably know a white woman who did) while over 90 percent of black women voted for Clinton. So, in an amazing move, it’s entirely possible that a white woman voted for Trump and then turned around and knitted a pink, pussy hat so she could participate in the march.
Now, I’m not saying that we should start a collective boycott – you better believe that, at this time last year, I was absolutely fuming because I wasn’t able to attend a Women’s March. I’m not saying that every single women who attended a march isn’t inclusive and cares only about white women. That being said, the Women’s March is in its infancy, and there’s a lot of room to grow and representation that needs to be included in future efforts.
I feel like the problem is that 2017 marches were in response to Trump specifically and how upset people were that he was inaugurated. Trump’s presidency won’t be known as a beacon for the women’s rights movement, and marching in opposition of him is fine. But if these marches are to continue and become a yearly occurrence, there needs to come a divide where people start marching because women are treated unequally every day in every aspect of life. Trump’s presidency certainly won’t do that much to curb the problem, but it’s also not like he started inequality. His presidency is bound to end at some point, but inequality is something that will repeat itself forever unless people make themselves heard on platforms such as this. For equality to become successful, becoming inclusive undeniably has to happen to appeal to women as a whole rather than just white women.
Izzy Manzo can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org