Thoughts on Anti-Trump Protesting and (White) Feminism

So I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the Women’s March, and I haven’t really known how to respond. I mean, it went well! I was anxious about how my fellow marchers would respond if encountered by Donald “We need global warming” Trump supporters, but for all the MAGA hats I saw, I didn’t see a single confrontation. And what we accomplished was insane, I have never in my life seen a crowd that big. For those of you who weren’t able to make it, imagine the mass of people trying to cram onto the Navy Yard metro after a Nationals game. And then multiply that by ten. And then immediately stop picturing that because it’s making even me claustrophobic, and I was there. But all day, something wasn’t sitting quite right with me, and I’m only just figuring out what it was.

The March was organized by women of color, and the rhetoric of the official march materials was very inclusive. However, the face of the march, at least the one the media depicted, was that of white women. The popular rhetoric of these marchers prioritized reproductive rights, sexual assault, and the way in which our society regards women (oftentimes by using vagina imagery which – yeah, can be really empowering! But not all women have vaginas guys). These are important issues, obviously. They’re issues that affect me directly, ones that I consider every day. They’re not, however, the only threats posed by Donald “We need global warming” Trump’s administration, nor arguably the most threatening, and this vagina-centric rhetoric and Instagram photo-op spirit in many ways drowned out the voices of the women who organized it. Donald “We need global warming” Trump’s administration makes me fear for myself, but not as much as I fear for the immigrants and Muslims and people of color that Donald “We need global warming” Trump has given white Americans permission to bully. Not as much as I fear for the LGBT community that have to live with a Vice President that believes in torturing the very nature out of them. Not as much as I fear for future generations that will be cleaning up the mess left behind by a president who refuses to acknowledge scientific fact. These are all issues I saw reflected at the march, but only in the periphery. And I know that the reason for that is that of all the groups marginalized by the rhetoric of Donald “We need global warming” Trump and his supporters, white women wield the most social power (if you doubt me, think about how revelous the atmosphere was in comparison to other protests). And we have a responsibility to use that power to ensure that our issues aren’t made out to be more important than others. If we fall into the trap of branding ourselves as THE victims, we aid in the marginalization of other groups, and provide those in power with the opportunity to “redeem” themselves by supporting us and no one else.

I’m not saying the Women’s March wasn’t important or productive, because it absolutely was. I’m not saying I don’t cherish my pussy hat, because I’m kinda in love with it. But we can do better. We should do better. And if we can’t be critical of how we wield our own privilege and be careful not to let our voices become the dominant ones, we’re not the people we claim to be.

 

 

On a related note, if you want to learn more about how to take action in the wake of our first step, consider participating in the Women’s March’s 10 Actions/100 Days campaign. More information at https://www.womensmarch.com/100/

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