I marched on Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C., and I’m still processing that experience. But one thing that struck me over and over while I was there was that intersectional feminism is everything, or feminism is nothing.
Call it increased awareness of privilege, but when I saw cops jumping on their vehicles, jubilant, cheering us on, telling us we were beautiful, waving us toward Independence Ave.–because the crowd was so overwhelming, so much larger than anticipated, that many of us couldn’t get close enough to speakers to hear where we should go or what we should do next–I couldn’t help but wonder why I’d never seen that, on TV, say, in Ferguson or Baltimore.
Oh right. Racism.
Not that the March was exclusively white. Listen, just read this, it’s called “Some Inconvenient Truths About the Women’s March,” and Devon Maloney pulls no punches in this critique of the movement.
I agree with all of it.
I know you had a good time at the March(es). So did I. I know it was powerful and enormous and unprecedented and important. You can change your Facebook banner photo to a pile of signs from the March (ahem. Hi.) and still commit to educating yourself and learning more about how to include everyone in the movement.
For example. Pussy hats. Pussy hats symbolize pussies, and guess what, not all people who identify as female have a pussy. Not recognizing that is called cisgender privilege.
A “march” presupposes marching. Guess who can’t march. Some people who are differently abled. I saw exactly three wheelchairs at the D.C. march. Not enough attempts were made to ensure that people with chronic illnesses and mobility challenges–whose stakes are extremely high in a country where healthcare is being decimated–could attend. Not recognizing that is called able-bodied privilege.
One of the more infamous signs of last Saturday reads, “I’ll see all you nice white ladies at the next Black Lives Matter march, right?” (Or perhaps at Standing Rock, or even today, when #NotMyPresident signs an executive order to start building that goddamn wall that is so not going to be built.) Not so much? Having to learn instead of feel the difference between how cops treat BLM crowds vs. Women’s March crowds? That’s called white privilege.
When decades of social and political history have shown that large-scale resistance often results in the sacrifices of minority causes, often in the name of the greater (mostly whiter, straighter, and cisgender) good, what does ‘solidarity’ mean?
We can do better. We can’t all go to every march, every protest, every demonstration. Divide and conquer is a real thing. Plus we have kids and jobs and are doing a lot of resisting already (right? RIGHT?). But we can go to some, and we can be more aware and more willing to constantly consider all lived experiences.
And if you’re reading this, or reading Maloney, and feeling all defensive and chagrined, I get that. I kinda still want a pussy hat. But our feelings aren’t more vital than these moments of expanded consciousness and awareness. What we do after them, with them, how we allow them to change and better our efforts, is everything.
Take care of yourselves, friends. At the risk of being incredibly self-promoting right now, I hope you will give my latest Open Thought Vortex essay a read–not a must-read, just a read: “Reimagining Self-Care as Activism in the New World Order.” There’s also this article on Medium, “HowtoStayOutraged without losing your mind,” which I did not write but wish I did.