First things first: Everyone who went to or supported a Women’s March around the world… Thank you. You made history and proclaimed that women are listening to and watching the Trump administration.
Now that we’ve made one large, loud statement it’s time to fight for women who are often ignored: women of color, native women, women with disabilities, sex workers and LGBTQ women (emphasis on the “T”).
The complaints are real
If you’ve listened to or read any news about the march, you probably know that some groups of women felt the women-centric events missed the intersectional feminist mark.
We’re not saying that pussy hats and the “hands off my ovaries” signs are bad, but those protest items don’t recognize the deeper feminist issues that affect marginalized women.
The following groups of women had important points about why the Women’s March, in general, made them feel excluded.
Women of color
Many women of color are rightly angry with white feminists. White feminism is the idea that many women who are white don’t recognize the issues that affect all women affect some more than others.
Women of color get paid less than white women, and often times face additional hurdles when obtaining medical and reproductive care. Some of women of color also are angry that that many white women chose to march for this cause—an admittedly great cause—but were absent for Black Lives Matter marches.
All of these criticisms are valid and if white women want to help all women, then they need to listen to everything women of color have to say.
Many Native American women feel ignored because other groups of women have not listened to complaints about the Dakota Access Pipeline, or have not protested the #NODAPL cause.
Any woman who appreciates clean water, safe housing, and basic human rights should understand that native women have fought against injustice for years. In addition to appreciating this fight, other women should recognize that native customs and costumes are sacred—they aren’t a lifestyle or fashion to replicate. To get a better understanding of “inappropriate white lady behavior” toward native women, please read this heartbreaking thread on Twitter.
No one should every grab a “pussy.” But what if a person doesn’t have a pussy to grab? Does that mean you aren’t a woman; is it okay for someone to assault you? No, of course not, but it’s this “pussy centric” dialogue that’s making trans women feel underrepresented or ignored at Women’s Marches.
Women don’t have to have a uterus, vagina, cervix, etc., to be a woman. Some women have a penis. Some men have vaginas. And every woman who says they are a woman should feel included and protected at Women’s Marches.
Did you know disabled women held a sister Women’s March online? Sonya Huber, a creative writing professor in Connecticut, organized the protest.
Huber started the online march, which officially partnered with the D.C. Women’s March, to help people with disability and chronic illnesses protest.
Sadly, though, this online protest didn’t get a lot of attention. And in general, women with disabilities found some marches too difficult to access.
Abled women must recognize that disabled people are at risk under the Trump administration, too. We must fight for accessibility rights.
Sex workers need protection, too. Far too often, women look down on other women who choose to work in the sex industry. Why this viewpoint is still widely held is baffling. Sex work is just work. Period. And just like 9-to-5 workers should feel protected from injustice and abuse, sex workers should, too.
“Sex workers are often excluded from mainstream women’s rights statements, for reasons ranging from respectability politics to fundamental disagreements within feminist discourse about whether or not sex work is labor,” Refinery29 reports.
In addition to the labor debate, many feminists think they have to “save” sex workers from their occupation. This viewpoint is insulting to people who choose to work in the sex industry and makes them seem like victims. Going forward, women must include sex workers in all feminist agenda.
Any person who is interested in realizing an equal and free America must educate themselves about the groups of women mentioned—and the groups I’ve probably forgotten to mention—in this post. This is the only way equality will thrive.