Why the Women's March Failed Women
Last month's Women's March made headlines as organizers claimed a huge victory for women everywhere. Unfortunately, it didn't take long before the march was attacked for not being progressive enough -- and that criticism hasn't ended:
Many of the marchers wore pink “ pussyhats,” donned pink vagina costumes, carried the signs that depicted uteruses holding up middle fingers or saying things like “Pussies Against Fascism”, and also held posters that said things like “Bow to My Magical Vagina,” “Vaginas Brought You Into the World, Vaginas Will Vote You Out,” “Leave it to the Beavers,” and “Viva la Vulva.”
The message being sent here is that being a woman is not only synonymous with, but also contingent upon, having a vagina. The pussy hats and vagina costumes were intended to bond women together, because they operate under the assumption that womanhood is defined by genitalia.
But this biological essentialism is nothing more than cissexism, because it conflates gender with genitals and reinforces the idea that there are only two genders. And, by upholding the gender binary in this way, the pussy hats and uterus signs are also transmisogynistic, because they discriminate against trans women and gender nonconforming people. They tell transgender women that they are not “real women” because they do not have vaginas.
Oh, it's cute when college students think they're being profound. Don't get me wrong, the Women's March actually was a gigantic fail -- but not for the reasons outlined above.
The march was a fail because no one really knew why they were protesting. They made up their own crap, including the ridiculous hats designed to call female reproductive organs to mind, and decided to make it a general protest against President Trump. But why a "Women's March"?
Without a unifying focus -- say, supposed wage disparity between genders -- there's not much to generate a conversation. There's nothing to talk about the next day besides stupid hats, women who don't seem to know what they want, and little else. What, exactly, is happening to women that they are upset about? And why are so many women appalled at the idea of a Women's March?
Further, it opened them up to criticism from the left as well. For example, the allegations of transmisogyny (seriously, is that even a real word?) because transwomen weren't included sufficiently. Had the protest been focused on something like pro-choice policies, it becomes harder to scream about exclusion since it's not like transwomen can actually get pregnant, right? But again, about half of women in the U.S. are pro-life.
They went for a broad protest, most likely to attract numbers, and in the end accomplished nothing because they did not have a goal. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. figured that out when the Albany Movement failed. King began focusing on particular issues that all fell under the umbrella of civil rights. This permitted people to focus on a single topic at a time, shape the narrative at the time, only to then point out another issue in another town later, proving there was a systemic issue.
The Women's March failed to do anything of the sort.