Yet I have chosen the past three years, since the day after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, not to participate in the national and local women’s marches, because their messages were too mixed.
In 2016, the day after Trump’s inauguration, a half-million-plus women gathered in D.C. and locally, many wearing pink “pussy” hats, to ostensibly join together to object to Trump’s stance on many issues. A few of my Palo Alto friends were there to join the throngs, walk about and carry a sign or two. When they came back home, they spoke glowingly of the female camaraderie, the wonderful warmth exhibited by all, the “good” they felt because they had “done” something for women.
But I didn’t march because I thought the reasons for women participating were way too many and much too splintered. For example, there were women supporting abortion and opposing abortion, ditto for birth control; there were women attending because black women’s lives matter. Other women were there to support equal pay, family maternity leave, equal opportunity for advancement in the workplace and finally try harder to break the glass ceiling. The political left and right were there, sometimes marching against each other’s views.
And once the march ended, what message should I have drawn from this gathering? That women are important and thus a political force? That we have diverse views? I knew and know that.
The women’s marches were important, but very different from marching to end the Vietnam War, or marching for civil rights, or proclaiming that black lives matter. Those were cause efforts. Being part of a women’s group is not a cause that can be acted on politically, in my estimation.
In 2017 women still turned out to march, but to a lesser degree. The “Me too” movement on sexual abuse against women had become a big force, but not the entire subject of the march. The come-one-come-all theme prevailed, without a specific goal.
This year divisions began to erupt in this women’s march. Some were marching for immigration, but which specific part of the immigration problem? There were accusations in New York City that some of the leaders were anti-Semitic, and some splits began to occur among organizers. A couple of cities had two marches, which may be the beginning of women marching for causes.
I don’t mean to say all these marches weren’t a big happening. Trump has to realize women are a potential power force, although I can’t remember his acknowledging that. But the march awakened a lot of women to run for public office, and women supported them, and they won in extraordinary numbers, particularly in Congress and in state legislatures. That’s a marvelous outcome.
As we’ve learned, marches can influence leaders in our country – presidents, senators and congressmen, but more important, the voting public. Women should use their collective power to make things that we want happen, and marches can be an instrument to achieve our goals. Think 2020!
And yes, I am still a feminist.