Feminism

What I Learned From The Women’s March (And Where To Go Next)

This past weekend, I had the privilege of marching side by side with hundreds of thousands of others (200,000 here in Denver, to be specific), all united in our distrust of and anger toward an administration that would be vocal of wanting to trample upon our rights. I also learned a lot at the Women’s March, which has now been confirmed as the largest ever single-day protest in US history (super proud!) It’s clear that the election and now inauguration of a man who’s been accused multiple times of sexual assault, and a man who continuously spews hateful rhetoric, and an administration that would welcome white nationalists is shaking us all from our slumber and into action. But in what ways could we do better, as a cohesive group?

We All Need To Be More Trans Inclusive

One of the recurring themes at the Women’s March was pussy symbolism and pussy power. There were signs with vaginas drawn on, paper-mâché female reproductive organs, and lots of chanting about “her” body and about pussies grabbing back. There is nothing wrong with any of this. That said, there’s more ways to being a woman than having a vagina or a uterus (as many women don’t). And there’s also folks who aren’t women (trans men and other gender non-conforming/non-binary people) who also need to be included in discussions about reproductive rights, who also have the capabilities of getting pregnant. So while I’m in no way discouraging more vagina art or pussy power (please, let’s totally keep that going in our lives), I am hoping that all the folks who marched recognize trans women, and advocate for not only women’s rights, but trans rights as well. Some simple ways to be trans inclusive? Change the chant to “My Body, My Choice! Their Body, Their Choice!” Also, create signs that are inclusive of all folks, rather than making them gender-specific. And of course, when trans folks start a chant about Trans Rights being Human Rights, elevate their voices! Don’t let them chant alone. Keep these things in mind in your day-to-day as well. Don’t assume people’s pronouns or gender or sexuality based on appearance.

We Need To Elevate The Voices Of The Marginalized And Make their causes our own

Every march was different, I’m sure, but as a minority in a particularly white neighborhood (in Denver), I would like to say that I would love to hear a bit less from white folks and more from POC. I know that might be difficult considering the demographics, but I would hope at the very least that white folks are giving POC here a chance to speak first, and that they are listening (just as we all should to all marginalized folk, whether they be black or queer or disabled or non-binary or homeless, etc.) I went to a separate inauguration protest and march on Friday and it was POC leading both the march and many of the chants. It was incredibly encouraging to see that, and to see everyone else listening to them. More of this, please. Also, when there are actions about minority rights (whether it be for Immigration Reform or Black Lives Matter or something else), please show up. That goes double for the white folks who have stood by while POC have been woke for a long while and struggled alone.

We Don’t Need The Body Shaming

Tr*mp is terrible enough on his own that we really, really don’t need to resort to body shaming. This has been going on since those naked Tr*mp statues began appearing all over the country in months past, but as my friend and writing colleague Pauline Campos says in her piece on the statues:

Shaming Trump as a response to the many offensive comments cited in the media since he announced his run for President doesn’t make us better than him. It puts us on the very same level. Turning the abuser into the victim just makes you the new abuser. I know it’s supposed to be about taking back power, but at what cost? Is it worth lowering ourselves to the same level as the man who is so often called out for inciting hate?

So far, Tr*mp has been shamed for the size of his hands, his hair (and speculation he is balding), his weight, the list goes on. Yes, Tr*mp has a long record of body shaming others, because, well, he is a terrible person. But does that mean we have to body shame him as well? I can understand why some folks have done it, but if you find a better way to shame him (for, say, his racist views, his ties to white-nationalists, his opposition to marriage equality and general anti-LGBTQ views, etc.), maybe go for those, first. Body shaming, even if it’s toward someone as vile as Tr*mp, hurts many of us. In the piece I quotes above, Campos talks about her own struggles with her body, and how shaming him essentially shames others of us who have struggled with weight issues. And on a more personal level, shaming people for their hair (or lack thereof) can be painful to those of us experiencing inexplicable, premature hair loss.

So instead of going for the easy bait, I’m choosing to instead attack his anti-queer and anti-Latinx/xenophobic stances, his views against abortion, and other problematic views.

We Can’t Stop Now

There are accusations already flying about how the Women’s March could turn into another Occupy movement. As in, while it’s good in theory, if it doesn’t continue to be an organized, pro-active resistance, then it will be futile, eventually sizzling out as others before it. One of the criticisms even comes direct from co-Occupy creator Micah White, who states:

The only way to attain sovereignty – the supreme authority over the functioning of our government – is to use social protest to win elections or win wars. Either we can march to the ballot box or the battleground; there is no third option.

So what can we do? The Women’s March was a great jumping off point, but it’s certainly not enough. We can take part in the 10 Actions / 100 Days campaign detailed here. Visit the Weekly Actions to Resist Trump website for more ideas on how to keep the momentum going. You can check out this Action Checklist as well for even more ideas. And if you’ve got some time, consider pledging to make 5 calls a day (and if you get phone anxiety like I do, read this brief piece on overcoming it and making the calls anyway).

We can ALL be activists. We can all make our concerns known and our voices heard. Find and organize with local activist groups (or start your own).

via GIPHY

If you have more suggestions on ways to stay active, feel free to post them in the comments below. I’m going to collect a few more calls to action and post them soon as possible.

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