Women’s March on Washington is a step in the right direction

Smiling and clad in pink pointed hats, they marched with signs that read: “Pussy Grabs Back,” “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” and “Get Your Tiny Hands Off Me.” Various chants echoed off of the buildings overhead, while the occasional chant reverberated throughout the entire crowd. This was the Women’s March, an event that brought hundreds of thousands of people together in a show of solidarity in response to the recent inauguration of Donald Trump.

For many people (myself included), this was the first protest ever attended. Evidence of this new, almost fad-like enthusiasm was everywhere, with clusters of teens gathered around their phones ready to capture the iconic day, later to be uploaded onto various social media profiles. However life-changing or inspiring this march was to those who attended, some serious questions about intersectionality and inclusion have been brought up since, in an effort to highlight the misrepresentation of voices in the march itself.

One major concern has been with the issue surrounding white feminism. Does white feminism marginalize women of color, the LGBTQ community and other minorities? Sadly, the answer is yes. However, most of this is done unintentionally. Mainstream feminism often refers to the white, cisgendered and middle-class female activists, many of whom were seen holding “pussy-centric” signs at the march. This rhetoric has been viewed as problematic, given that it reinforces the rigid gender stereotypes that fail to include transgender participants and others who do not conform to established gender norms.

Many also criticized the lack of support for Black Lives Matter and other movements that center around marginalized groups. If the Women’s March truly does stand for equality, why was there not as much participation in other movements? One potential answer could be that each individual who marched was doing so because of personal experiences or connections. For many people, this means that defunding Planned Parenthood holds a much more personal connection than the Black Lives Matter movement or No Dakota Access Pipeline movement (NO-DAPL). This is problematic because it fails to recognize or acknowledge the lesser known struggles that others may face, sweeping them under the rug.

Although the Women’s March did receive criticism for not being inclusive, my personal experience at the march gave me a different perspective. The march in Chicago was indeed mostly attended by typical “mainstream feminists,” but the atmosphere of the event was not dominated by divisive ideas or content. Instead, people hugged the woman holding a “Latina Girls Unite” sign and took pictures with the “NO-DAPL” group. Young and old alike all marched together to serve as a singular voice in protest of the new administration. Although the specific reasons behind such protests varied, the bigger problem at the time concerned a newly inaugurated president who has threatened the basic rights of all.

However skeptical one may be of the Women’s March, no one can deny the fact that it has brought people closer together. No one can deny the fact that many were also marching for issues that went beyond themselves, seen in signs such as “I march for ALL (women of color, LGBTQ, Muslims, immigrants) people.” Ever since the Women’s March took place, one also cannot help but notice that the number of protests occurring around the country – such as against the Muslim ban or the new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos – have increased. There’s still a lot of work to be done in order to make protests like the Women’s March more inclusive, but let’s not diminish the success of the march in order to do so.

Hana Anderson ’20 (anders28@stolaf.edu) is from Duluth, Minn. Her major is undecided.