The biggest protest in U.S. history took place last weekend, and women made it happen. It was a massive demonstration of female political solidarity and a battle cry against male-supremacist power, embodied by the ultimate sexist pig, Donald Trump. The Women’s March yielded these fantastic results, despite bearing constant attacks since its inception: A march for WOMEN? How selfish.
The organization of the March began with an apology. Originally named the “Million Women March on DC,” it was accused of appropriating the title from historic anti-racist activism in the ‘90s. The 1995 Million Man March on Washington sought to unify, uplift, and demand justice for the pernicious racism faced by black men in the U.S., which later spawned the 1997 Million Woman March in Philadelphia — a female-centric iteration that drew hundreds of thousands of black women from across the country.
After it was brought to their attention, organizers of the 2017 march promptly apologized and changed the name to “Women’s March on Washington.” But this mistake would set the tone for media coverage deeming the event “problematic,” and became an obligatory preface to its discussion. Organizers proceeded by being as obsequious to liberal demands as possible. They de-centered women from their rhetoric, claiming that, although it was called “Women’s March,” it was actually for no one in particular and focused on no specific issues.
In a bitter irony, despite organizers’ desire to achieve intersectional credibility, they released an supporting pro-prostitution rhetoric. The platform sanitizes prostitution as “sex work” — as if this racist, imperialist system of abuse is nothing more than a job like any other. This language and approach to the sex trade erases the way racism and capitalism function under patriarchy to funnel a disproportionate number of women and girls of colour into prostitution at the demand of (often white) men who are in positions of relative privilege.
In this act, the official march platform became a prime example of the hollow way “intersectionality” is interpreted by liberals to mean “male-inclusive.” While I’m sympathetic to the organizers and the amount of vitriol they received, pressuring them to water down any feminist message, it is still disheartening to see the extent to which women are made to shrink themselves within their own political movements. Even the official platform’s section on Reproductive Freedom is awkwardly sex-neutral and states that reproductive justice is about ensuring reproductive healthcare access for “all people.” (I could have sworn it was specifically about female bodies and that unique thing they do…
“Pregnancy,” I think it’s called?)
But when it came time to march, all that noise disappeared.