By: Eliza Wagman
As we approach the one year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration and the 2017 Women’s March, we must look critically at the failings of the original protest, and determine how we can proceed as increasingly inclusive feminists. This year, the Women’s March official campaign is “March to the Polls”, because – supposedly – “when we vote, we win”. However, the platform fails to account for a contrary truth – in 2016, 53% of America’s white women voted for Trump. The same demographic dominated the coordination of the Women’s March, and their privilege was exposed throughout the process.
Before the event took place, multiple black women stepped down from their positions as organizers, citing white women organizers as being insensitive and silencing towards the specific issues raised by black women, the appropriation of Civil Rights movement imagery (i.e. the names “Million Woman March” and “March on Washington”), and an overall whitewashing of feminist needs.
Also prior to the event, the platform section advocating for sex worker rights was completely erased. An event that should have championed sex workers took backwards steps to exclude them from the narrative of women’s rights.
At the march, Native women were mocked, had their photos taken by white women without permission, were criticized for calling attention to the stolen land being occupied, and were shamelessly approached by white women wearing R**skins hats.
Transgender women were alienated by the overwhelmingly cisgender crowd through vagina-shaped hats and signs with slogans including “Pussy Power”, “No Uterus, No Opinion”, and “Viva la Vulva”, imagery insinuating that womanhood = female-assigned sex organs.
This year, we must do better. We must first and foremost listen to and empower black and brown women, Native women, disabled women, trans women, sex workers, and all women whose rights go unnoticed in mainstream, white feminist movements. If there are no political candidates championing the rights of underprivileged women, then marching to the polls will merely continue upholding the trends that got Trump elected at the hands of many cisgender white women. When we march, and when we politically engage, we must ensure that our feminism accounts for all.
To find more opportunities to get involved in women’s and gender rights efforts, and to learn more about intersectional feminism, visit http://www.myplannedparenthood.org.