I remember the first Women’s March like it happened yesterday. The entire day was a tumultuous mix of passion, anger, courage and euphoria. I was ecstatic to see people come together and create something uplifting from the previous months of pain and to finally see a space where all women could come together and fight for equality. Yet somehow, that well-intended mission became the exact space where the message became warped, and this warping became clear in this year’s march.
Pushing for intersectionality has been an issue within activist communities since the beginning, and the effects of people ignoring its importance has caused many intersectional feminists to abandon the label of feminism altogether. The instinctive move with an event like the Women’s March is to come together on the grounds of what we all have in common: our womanhood, and the oppression that comes with it. However, that is not an excuse to erase the varying and complex levels of oppression that women from different backgrounds experience, and the audience of the Women’s March seems to have lost sight of that.
I’d like to be clear and state the obvious: not everyone who attended the march has missed conveying intersectionality in their message. But an alarmingly large amount of people who participated seemed to think that their sole concern is the issue of misogyny in our society, and that once Planned Parenthood was safe and we had a pro-woman President they could simply “be at brunch” instead. It’s a tiring narrative that shows blatant disregard for the issues white women’s sisters are facing where the patriarchy is just one piece of the puzzle.
It needs to be understood that we only win when we win together, and to do so our activist spaces need to be inclusive and welcoming to all women. A sea of pussy hats and flags with uteruses is alienating to the trans women who share our fight. Being unconcerned with issues of racial injustice is divisive to women of color like myself who simply have to be concerned with more than one front of oppression. The sheer indecisiveness shown by the organizers of the march in including support for the sex workers rights movement left out another underrepresented population.
Marches are based on the solidarity that creates them, but if it’s comprised of a million different people with such vastly different ideas as to how far their concern and anger stretches, how effective can it really be? My ardent hope is that by the time the next Women’s March comes into fruition we have a sturdier ground to stand upon where we finally accept the complexity and depth of our situation. Our problems do not begin or end with simply womanhood’s place in our current society, but also the place of people of all races, gender identities, and classes.