Hey there reader, yes you – with hands poised on the keyboard ready to type an angry, incoherent statement accusing me of being a traitor to my kind, a bad woman, or even worse, a Trumpette.
Let’s clear the air here: I did not vote for Donald Trump. Now, before you switch your keystrokes to auto filling “liberal… [insert insult],” you should know that I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton either.
Is your head ready to explode? I bet it is, so just take a deep breath, calm yourself, and hear me out before you make any snap judgments.
My name is Zoe, and I’m a feminist. Yes, that’s right. I said it. I believe in equal rights for all men and women regardless of color, creed, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or whether or not they like pineapple on their pizza. (Maybe I’m judging just a little bit about the last one.)
I did not attend the Women’s March this weekend. The short answer is because I had to work, but the long answer is a bit more complicated.
I am a libertarian and I fully support each and every man, woman, and child who chose to participate.
I’m just asking that others respect my decision not to participate.
If I hadn’t chosen to work that morning, I might have a different perspective of the event, but it was an ill-fated series of events on my way to work that really got me thinking about what was wrong (and what was right) about the march.
On Saturday, I had to work my second job in Park City, Utah. It was in the low twenties, snowing, and the streets were covered in ice. I had to walk about two blocks up the street- in my uniform, which included tights, a red dress (modest length), and gold heels.
It was incredibly icy – I slipped, almost fell, and righted myself, but I was still shaken.
I can only imagine how I looked – stumbling around trying to get traction in my shoes, my curly hair covered in snow, falling into my face as I tried to brush it back, all to no avail.
Nearby, two women holding signs about equality laughed and said “nice choice in footwear” and “yeah wearing heels in this weather is brilliant.”
I turned around and lit into them, something along the lines of:
“You’re going to insult me, another woman, at all times during a woman’s march? You’re literally holding a sign saying how much you care for all women, but you didn’t ask me if I was okay??? Totally hypocritical. F*** you and your fake brand of feminism.”
I normally don’t swear, but I was so angry – kind of from almost falling, but also for being mocked for going to work.
That short exchange brought me to what I perceived to have been wrong with the march, namely the following:
- There was no coherent end goal. In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed two types of protests: gays and allies rallying for marriage equality and anti-war protests imploring our government to get out of Iraq. Both of these gatherings had a clear mission. There were some very good messages in the women’s march, which I’ll get into later. These messages were all amazing and I would have marched for any of them. However…
- Too many messages muddled a clear message. Kvetchy signs and costumes aside, I’m not even sure what half of the protesters’ points were. Yes, you spent a lot of time sewing that intricate vagina costume (complete with hair and everything), but what exactly was your message? I’m sorry, but I have a hard time taking you seriously. I have an even harder time taking the people whose signs were so devoid of logic (women deserve the same rights as guns) seriously. I felt sorry for some of the amazing activists that I saw whose messages of positivity and inclusion were diluted by the incoherent attention-seeking antics of others.
- Too much in-fighting. Speaking of discord, I think the march was already experiencing too much infighting even before Saturday morning. Should white natural-born women even be allowed to participate? One Native American protester said no, and others agreed with her. Some argued that white women didn’t have the right to attend since the majority voted for Trump. (Actually, the majority of white women didn’t vote in this election.) Did white women understand the plights of minorities and transgender women? Of course not. How could I ever be expected to understand the female experience from any other woman’s perspective? I’m half of an “Irish twin” and I couldn’t even tell you about my sister’s experience as a female. A march that should have been about celebrating the beauty of all females turned into what critics called “typical female infighting.” That’s not how I roll. Even after the march, women on the left and the right are fighting about the march.
- Too much misandry. True feminism believes that we deserve the same rights as males – that we are males’ peers, equals, and most importantly, allies. I saw far too many signs degrading men than I was comfortable with. Most of the marchers in Park City were white, which says less about anything other than Utah is really, really white. As I saw so many white females holding signs rallying against white males, I couldn’t help but wonder if none of them had fathers or grandfathers. To cast judgment upon a group of people based on gender and skin color is against my belief system. I could not fathom being involved with a cause that denounced my father, grandfather, and other positive white male influences in my life that shaped me into who I am today.
- Too much objectification: I didn’t need to see lady parts costumes or full-on nudity (thankfully it was below freezing at the Utah march, so that wasn’t an issue). My brain and my heart mean far more to me than my genitals. Unfortunately, the media showed the nudity and genital costumes far more than they showed well-thought out signs or well-spoken speeches (although America Ferrera’s was excellent and did get quite a bit of coverage).
- No onus of responsibility. Many compared this march to the Million Man March in 1995, in which black men gathered with the agenda of promoting a different portrayal of the African-American male. Led by prominent speakers, the march’s main message challenged men to be the best that they could be and to set a positive example for future generations. During the woman’s march, there was more blame being cast than there was an onus of responsibility upon women to take action and fight. Where were the speeches encouraging young women to stay in school, to participate in local government, to cease having child after child out of wedlock and living off government assistance? Where was the call imploring women to work alongside our male allies to solve problems that affect us all? It was there. Unfortunately it was drowned out by the pointless chatter of far too many self-serving agendas.
That being said, there was much positivity surrounding the march. Some of the speeches were excellent. In addition to Ferrera’s, Blake Lively’s was wonderful. My favorite sign that I saw was “Tweet women with respect.”
The libertarian in me wholeheartedly agrees with keeping abortion safe and legal, allowing access to birth control (I don’t believe it’s the government’s right to control it), never overturning the marriage equality amendment, and providing adequate services for rape and domestic assault victims. I was proud to see women from all around the country gather and march as one. I heard stories of new friendships that were formed and of women at each and every march who provided much-needed words of encouragement in a time of political and social turmoil.
The bottom line is that we need to take away some key messages from the march and leave others behind. We need to be better at holding our local, state, and federal government officials accountable for their actions- year round and not just care about it once every four years the same way we care about women’s gymnastics.
But more importantly, we need to BE BETTER.
We need to be better humans towards each other. We need to be better about paying more attention to current events than to the Kardashians. We need to be better about truly listening to each other rather than shouting (or posting). We need to not blindly support each other, but hold each other accountable for living up to our fullest potential and being an honest member of society. We need to realize that smart is sexy. And most importantly, we need to be better about understanding how we, as women, can contribute to our little corner of the world even long after the march is over and the snow has (finally) melted.