Why I Didn’t Go To The Women’s March

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Illustration by Desmond Meagley/Youth Radio

It’s been a year since the Women’s March. And although it was a historic event, with protests springing up all over the country and half a million people descending on Washington D.C., I have mixed feelings about it.

My whole family joined in. While my grandparents, parents, classmates, and two younger sisters were heading out the door, homemade signs in hand, I decided to sit it out.

“Vanessa, why would you not go?” my dad asked me.

“Well, I don’t think it represents all women,” I replied.

“But anyone is allowed to go,” he responded.

While that may have been true, is the march really for everyone? The pussy hats that so many protesters wore–a symbol meant to unite women–made me feel uncomfortable. The definition of a feminist today is a lot different than 10 years ago. In my opinion, if your feminism isn’t all inclusive, it is not feminism. Not all women have female genitalia and not all women have pink female parts. It’s like the pussy hat assumes womanhood is white and cis-gendered.

A lot of cherished feminist symbols have the same problem. In my drawing class at school, we were asked to draw Rosie the Riveter for International Women’s day. When I raised my hand and told my teacher I refused, he looked back at me with dismay.

“Why would you not want to draw the face of women’s rights?” he asked.

And I mirrored back his look of dismay. Rosie only represented white women being able to work. It’s not that I don’t believe in the message of Rosie the Riveter. It’s that I don’t think Rosie the Riveter goes far enough. What about women of color or poor women? Was she an icon to them?

I think what my art teacher doesn’t get is that feminism is changing. While my friends and I felt left out of the women’s march as a “historical moment,” we realized that we wanted to create a new history that is all inclusive. To us, a feminist movement that doesn’t include all women is self-contradictory. What I am striving for is a feminist movement that includes women of color and/or trans women. The reason I am not marching in the streets is to stand in solidarity with women of color, women who do not have female parts, and women who would feel unsafe in there own skin participating. With the anniversary of the Women’s march coming up, I think I will pass.

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