The Women's March Leads to Discussion on Inclusivity

By AMANDA KRAUSE
On January 30, 2017

Photo courtesy of Carly Hagins, Flickr

One week after the Women’s March on Washington, scroll through Facebook and take note of how many photographs of feminist signage still fill your timeline. Take a walk down a populated New York City street and notice how many men and women are still donning their bright pink “pussy hats.” Once you’re home, turn on any television news station to see many of these marchers now turning their fight towards the attention of President Trump’s Muslim-ban.

The gathering of approximately 4,956,422 people worldwide, according to Women’s March on Washington, was the biggest glimmer of hope in what many consider one of America’s darkest weeks in recent history.

The Women’s March on Washington was described on the group’s website as “a women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds … to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination.”

Overall, the March’s message was a positive and inclusive one. Some women proudly held signs that read “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries” to fight against religious arguments made against female reproductive rights. Others fought for inclusion of all women, with signs labeled “I Support My Black, Trans, Immigrant, Gay, Muslim, Disabled and Indigenous Sisters.”

Still, even on this day of overwhelming positivity and community, some women took to social media to express their concerns with the protests. In some cases, white women felt they were being cast in a harsh light when encountering signs labeled “White Women Elected Trump.”

Others felt the march as a whole was unnecessary, stating that women do not need to fight for equal rights because they’ve already earned them.

To the women angered by signs pointing out their privilege: Take this march and all opportunities that follow to prove that you are not one among the 53 percent of white women that supported and voted for Donald Trump. If you feel that that these signs truly divided those participating in the Women’s March, take a step back and consider how divided women of different color, religion, ability and sexualities have felt throughout decades where we’ve erased them from history to emphasize our own.

To the women and men who feel the marchers wasted their time: Our nation’s first amendment grants the rights to free speech and assembly. When that right is exercised by nearly half a million people in Washington D.C. alone, it becomes nearly impossible to explore your arguments that women have nothing left to fight for.

Maybe when there is no wage gap between male and female workers, regardless of gender, color or ability, we can begin to lay our defenses down. Maybe once our Muslim sisters can walk freely without worrying about their choice to observe Hijab can we say we’ve made decent progress as feminists. Once we can not only acknowledge the fact that women own the right to make choices regarding their own body, but also that trans women exist and deserve equal rights and choices can we say that our feminism is truly inclusive.

The Women’s March on Washington was a groundbreaking event in the United States’ history, proving that women’s voices are being heard louder and clearer than ever. Still, this march was only the beginning. Those speaking in dissonance against the movement and those who marched must not be faced with anger. Instead the need for inclusive feminism must continue to be expressed and we must work to unite those who are still having trouble handling the uncomfortable task of facing their own privilege. 

akrause@ramapo.edu

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