Op-ed: Standing out in a sea of pink
Jaya Bali discusses her feelings after attending Women's March
After attending the Women's March on Washington on Jan. 21, after the post-protest elation that came with being a part of history, I can't help but have some mixed feelings.
I have mixed feelings because I spent a day scrolling through Facebook posts of white feminists in pussy hats, of smiling people holding up signs and proclaiming their role in making history. I have mixed feelings because of the intersectionality that gets shoved in my face that, as a queer women of color, I’m supposed to accept like some sort of charity offering.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that there is power in numbers and, no matter what, history was made on Saturday. It truly was something to see so many people, whatever the motive, come together in defiance against President Trump.
That being said, I object to those who present the Women’s March as a unified intersectional movement where everyone was suddenly equal and the same, facing the same oppression and fighting for the same cause.
I could see that the organizers worked hard to create a diverse panel of speakers, and that was something I appreciated greatly. For the first time, I saw myself represented within the feminist movement, rather than the usual alienation that comes with being profusely lectured at by a bunch of privileged, white feminists.
There were queer women and trans women, women of color and women of different classes and immigration statuses that spoke of a myriad of struggles and obstacles they face daily on the basis of their intersectional identities. But I really wonder how many people were listening.
When I looked out at the crowd, unlike the panel of speakers, I saw mostly white women, clad in pink hats with various shapes of cat ears. Women who groaned in irritation and refused to repeat the “say their name” chant initiated by the mothers of those killed by police violence.
Women who, despite carryings signs that called for unity, made jokes about terrorists and dismissed the stories of undocumented women while pausing eagerly to listen to Madonna. Women whose very presentation in pink “pussy” hats ignores the fact that identifying as a woman and having a vagina are not the same thing at all, thus ignoring the privilege that comes with the gender binaries they’re enforcing.
If it had been a march for people and women of color what would’ve been different? Would there have been less of a turnout? Would there have been more police brutality or arrests or police presence? What about if it had been a march for LGBT rights or trans equality or all of these issues at once? The fact that these qualifiers would have changed any part of the passion and turnout that made this event historic worries me.
And yet, if you look only at the posts on social media, everyone was intersectional, everyone was inclusive and everyone was making history. For this to work, for this movement to mean something, those in attendance need to listen, really listen.
I don’t want to minimize the importance of what happened on Saturday, because having so many people come together really makes an impact. But this needs to be a movement, not just a moment. And I’m not sure how else how else to do so but to add my voice to the other voices of dissent that are calling for change and intersection.
“Rogue One” stated it best when it said that revolutions are built on hope, and I really do hope that the passion and feeling that brought people out into the streets by the thousands will continue long after the frenzy of Women’s March selfies subsides.
Jaya Bali is a sophomore in the School of International Service.