Marks: Why I didn’t attend the Women’s March

Approximately 4 million people all over the world took to the streets on Jan. 21, marching in protest of President Trump’s inauguration. When I first heard about the Women’s March, I was excited and intrigued. I’ve tried to be politically active whenever the opportunity arises, and this was definitely an opportunity. However, my feelings began to change when I started hearing the details.

The first thing I had qualms with were the “pussy hats.” While the hats themselves were cute — hot pink with little cat ears — the sentiment behind them makes me uncomfortable. By calling them pussy hats, the protestors centered the protests on cisgender (those who identify with their assigned sex at birth) women.

Unfortunately, that was not the only way the marches were transphobic. Phrases such as “pussy power” and “the future is female” grossly ignore and exclude those without vaginas who identify as women. Some people might say that these actions are an effort to demystify the vagina, create body positivity and emphasize female reproductive health. However, displays of female genitalia and slogans that involve it are not necessary to do this. It is possible to promote female reproductive health and women in general without these phrases, and without emphasizing female genitalia as a caveat for being a woman.

These trends resemble what is called Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism, a movement that essentially states that “real women” are those who have a vagina and centers womanhood on having a vagina and uterus. This movement obviously excludes transgender women who have not had transitional surgery. As stated by Julie S. J. Pelham in a widely-circulating Facebook post, “If you’re horrified by a powerful man grabbing women by the pussy, think about what he’d do if he didn’t find a pussy there, and work against the forces behind why he phrased it that way in the first place.” This references transmisogyny and violence against transgender women.

Furthermore, I view the marches as a statement of white feminism, or feminism that doesn’t consider the intersectionality of race, class, and other factors when regarding privilege and oppression. The protests were largely peaceful despite the presence of police officers, a testament to the safety and protection white women possess under the law. If the protests had involved more women of color and transgender women, it is likely that more action would’ve been taken by the police.

The protest was theoretically against Donald Trump’s inauguration and what he plans to do with this country. However, 53 percent of white women voted him into office. Beyond that, where were all these white women at Black Lives Matter marches and protests when Trump was elected president? These people aren’t as politically involved as they would like others to think.

This is not meant, however, to discount the efforts of some. Signs such as “Don’t forget: White Women Voted for Trump” and “White Women Elected Trump” were seen at protests and are a testament to self-awareness and a plea for white women to be and do better.

As white women, there is so much more you can do in addition to going to a single protest and saying “Well, at least I did something.” The fight is by no means over. Being an ally to minorities goes beyond attending a single march. So, what’s next? There are plenty of things you can do to help out yourself and other minorities.

One is to register to vote. The presidential election is not the only important election to vote in. Midterms are coming up. By making your voice heard, you can make a difference. There are other ways to get involved politically — calling and talking to your senators is one example. Our Eugene office telephone is (541) 431-0229 and you can also contact Sen. Ron Wyden through the form on his website. You can also volunteer for an organization that is important to you, such as Planned Parenthood. You can plan events in your own community continuing to protest President Trump’s election.

If you’re really out of ideas, you can visit the Women’s March website. They have started a campaign called 10 Actions / 100 Days, where they provide actions you can take to protest Trump’s presidency.

In short, there are many ways to get more involved and create change, whether you attended the Women’s march or not. And just because you attended the Women’s March doesn’t make you a trans-exclusionary feminist or a white feminist. It just means that you need to think critically about how you are acting and what you really stand for.

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Jadyn Marks

Jadyn Marks

Jadyn graduated from the University of Oregon in 2018 with a B.S. in political science and a minor in legal studies. She formerly worked as the opinion desk's associate editor. Prior to that, she had worked as a copy editor, news reporter, outreach director, and opinion writer.