#WhyIMarch: Thoughts on White Feminism
This week is a tough week. On Friday, our imbecilic president-elect loses the "elect" part of his title and is sworn in to one of the most powerful offices in our nation. It's a harrowing loss for anyone who identifies with a marginalized (or just straight up invisible) sociopolitical location and a scary harbinger of the years to come.
As Inauguration Day approaches, my spirits have been buoyed by the friends, colleagues, and peers I've seen preparing for the Women's March on Washington, Chicago and other cities. So many people I have never seen speak about feminism are now voicing their support for women and feminist consciousness. It feels like we're finally raising our voices, and I love when ladies get LOUD about their wants and needs in the world.
That said, however, I have also been trying to pay close attention to the many critiques of the Women's March that argue for it's imperialist underpinnings and celebrity culture. You see, the marches being organized are powerful in the way of numbers, but in other ways, they're simply bad organizing. The Women's March lacks demands, and without demands it cannot ask for real change or hold the incoming administration accountable for anything.
You can be sure as hell that I'll be out there on Saturday making my voice heard and my presence felt, but this march can't just be another instance of cool-slogan/pretty-poster feminism. A real feminist movement—a real women's march—requires a platform. We can yell "WE ARE WOMEN! HEAR US ROAR!" all day, but what do we want them to do about it when our voices go hoarse? Why are we really marching? Who and what for?
When I think about #WhyIMarch, I keep coming back to this quote:
Historically, women have been an incredibly hard group to organize, because they more often identify with markers other than their gender (e.g. race or class) and are encouraged to form closer relationships across gender (with fathers/husbands) than within it (with mothers/female friends). What I LOVE about the Women's March is how many women it has brought together. This is a same boat march, all the way.
But what this quote also reminds me, is that we came on different ships, and "came" is really putting the Atlantic slave trade lightly. When we march, we cannot forget that 52% of white women voted for Trump. We may be in the same boat now, but that does not undo centuries of racist politics and a very contemporary racist reality. Our feminism has to be anti-racist and anti-imperialist, if we are ever going to change anything. And that anti-racist/anti-imperialist agenda should be at the forefront of all organizing, marching, and consciousness-raising that we do.
So why am I marching? For myself and for all of the womyn who cannot. I am putting my privilege on the front lines of this fight WITHOUT forgetting that in doing so I must take care not to speak over or silence voices much more marginalized than mine. I am sacrificing some of my comfort, for womyn whose daily lives are already really fucking uncomfortable in ways I have never had to experience—ways that 52% of white women certainly weren't thinking about when they voted for Trump on election day.
So why are you marching, sisters/babes/friends? How can we build a real feminist platform together?
Always your sister in this struggle,
gif by the always lovely Libby Vanderploeg