When rich white women get to board the train from the suburbs donning their treasured pink pussy hats, and they get to say this march is for me, who are they ignoring in the process?

By Ally Sabatina

Jan. 20 marked one year since Donald Trump was sworn into office as president and with it came the second-annual Women’s March in major cities all over the countryPhiladelphia being no exception. Though the city of Brotherly Love tried to switch gears into a slightly more inclusive version of sisterly love, organization fell remarkably short by highlighting cis-terly love.

There were a number of glaring issues, especially the stunning lack of trans voices in the organizational process of the Women’s March and the movement at-large — and Philadelphia was not spared or unique in its own lack of intersectionality. Chief among Philadelphia Women’s march organizers’ being totally and completely out of touch was their invitation of the Philadelphia Police Department for “safety measures.”

Fascism operates under nationalist notions of safety and bullshit centrists, like the lobby that privacy and safety are moot points if you have nothing to hide, but in a country of white, police and military aggression, none have place in progressive movements. Police presence at a progressive march that may have ordinarily inspired people on the margins to show up for issues that resonate with them, were effectively pushed further to the margins for fear of harassment, stop and frisk, and profiling.

But the march and its organizers showed themselves to once again to care little, if at all, about Black and brown folks, especially queer and trans women of color. In fact, their invitation of the Philadelphia Police Department was a calculated idea facilitated by the backbone of liberal ideology. With liberals so concerned with the status quo being maintained—and only challenged by pre-approved “well meaning liberals”—police are friends of liberalism. When the liberal dialogue is focused on changing the ways we, the people interact with police—effectively placing blame and burdens of civility only on the complainant and not on the root causes that allow police to militarize, surveille and terrorize neighborhoods—cops get the privilege of being regarded as the good, true and right in any position because their priorities rest in preserving law and order as defined by the status quo. Trans, indigenous, black, queer and disabled people of color are expected to keep their mouths shut, their concerns mum and to never expect a seat at the table.

The Women’s March as a concept has never appealed to me. I’m not one to engage in reactionary politics and as a sufferer of general anxiety and chronic pain known for my proclivity for staying home, the march was never for me. But when we get into the meat of the thing to talk about who the march is for, messaging falls short.

Aside from the language of a women’s march being exclusionary to people on the margins who do not identify as women but are for women, the question of who the march is even for gets raised. When there are gatekeepers of femininity in every corner and at every checkpoint, who gets to ascribe to principles of a supposed women’s march? When rich white women get to board the train from the suburbs donning their treasured pink pussy hats, and they get to say this march is for me, who are they ignoring in the process?

Related: DON’T FORGET ABOUT BLACK WOMEN DURING YOUR WOMEN’S MARCH ON WASHINGTON

If the upper elechon gets to claim a movement as their own, the messaging must be keen on that particular inclusion while systematically forgetting to mention the supposed “fringe needs” of the healthcare obstacles in the trans* community, any and all BIPOC needs, a deeper understanding of queerness away from a projected misandry and literally anything that isn’t common in your hometown microcosm.

When rich white women donning their treasured pink pussy hats get to pour into Philadelphia from all corners of the tri-state area to a march, how many black, brown and non-pink pussies are pushed out of the conversation? In a city that is 44.2% black, why didn’t the march attract black women?

If the pink pussy hats are a giant subtweet at our president for his egregious offenses against women, what steps does the Women’s March and their pink pussy hats take to end rape culture and its egregious offenses against all women? If we’re going to include “pussy grabs back [at sexual assault]” in our Women’s March discourse, how do we go about showing true solidarity without triggering assault survivors unduly? If the conversation is dominated by notions of femmes fighting back at their aggressors, what are the safety nets for those who have #SurvivedAndPunished?

When we raise issues with any kind of bodily demonstration, we always have to include the disabled and the neurodivergent. From those I’ve spoken to who are blind, deaf and wheelchair bound, many of them had positive experiences to share including requests for a lift to the march and specialized parking being graciously accommodated, but let me also include that all the speakers I spoke to were white. When asked about how they felt about diversity in speaking, they were able to observe that POC were present but not what percent of speakers they noticed to be POC or prioritizing POC voices. When asked about trans visibility at the march, one of the speakers I spoke to remarked that she had met a trans person and that it was “really cool” so suffice to say, the Women’s March organizers have shown clearly that they conflate tokenism and diversity as the same thing.

Related: PHILLY ACTIVIST TINA NGO ON KEEPING WOMEN’S DAY INTERSECTIONAL

If not to anyone else, it has been made clear to me that the Women’s March as a cohesive message rests squarely on a call for solidarity while leaving solidarity only open to meeting the needs of white women. If you stayed home, I applaud you for preserving your energy in this fight. If you got out and plan to do so again, I urge you to engage deeply in the intersectional discourse at your fingertips as we continue embarking on the long haul for true egalitarianism.

I leave you with the questions, if we’re aiming at equality, who do we have to lift up and who do we have to level out to get there? What is the mechanism for doing so? Even without levying every critical thought I have at once, the Women’s March misses the mark for me. Without a steadfast shift in priority to include more BIPOC, more queer and trans individuals, more Palestinian-Americans, more anti-capitalists, more people willing and able to speak on more than the white women’s experience, there is no movement to be had. It’s just white supremacy dressed up in pink pussy hats.

 

 

 

Author Bio: Ally Sabatina is watching Barefoot Contessa rather than writing her author bios. In 2015, she replaced Xanax with cooking shows as a salve for panic in an unfair world. She knows the dogs on her block better than she knows her human neighbors. She works, freelances, lives and shares unsolicited opinions in Philly and on the internet.