The success of the marches should put to rest the critique of “identity politics” as a divisive dead end, although it probably won’t. Because for some the most important question was naturally, what about men? Swooping down at the last minute, after all the work was done, came New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, who feared that calling it a women’s march left men feeling uninvited. Never mind that women constantly have to write themselves into language that does not specifically mention them—the Constitution, for example—and imagine themselves into stories written by men about men. It was a women’s march because that’s what the women who got the idea on the very night of the election called for, and that’s what the thousands of people who immediately bought train and plane tickets signed up for. The United White Male Pundits of America could have called for a genderless “March Against Trump,” and spent eleven weeks knocking themselves out to make it happen. There are certainly enough of them! But they didn’t. It’s like the story of the little red hen who gets no help to sow the seed and reap the grain and mix the dough to make her loaf of bread, but when it’s finally baked and smelling delicious, all the other animals want a slice. (Is it an accident that that modest, determined, and industrious fowl was female?)
My own belief is that calling it a women’s march attracted far more people than it repelled, because it appealed to a deep sense of outrage and injury felt by women that went deeper than Trump’s policy positions. That the least qualified man, a self-confessed harasser and molester to boot, beat the most qualified woman, despite getting fewer votes, told women that no matter how hard they tried and how excellent they were, they were always going to be second-class citizens, always going to be passed over in favor of men, and that disrespecting, insulting, and even assaulting them was perfectly okay in 21st-century America. The shock of that recognition awakened something profound in women, including many who had not been active in politics before. There were a lot of newbies at the march. As one sign put it, “Hell Hath No Fury Like Millions of Women Scorned.” In any case, as Chait seems not to have bothered to discover, people of all genders, including men, were invited to march from the very beginning, although word seems not to have trickled down to Montclair, New Jersey. I’m delighted to say there were lots and lots of men in the crowd.