The Women’s March on Washington: Your Burning Questions Answered

This weekend, women and feminist allies all over the world came together and achieved something truly beautiful. The Women’s Marches, led by the Women’s March on Washington, not only constituted the biggest-ever demonstration for gender equality, but possibly the biggest-ever demonstration in the United States–for anything.

As a lifelong feminist, I teared up so many times that day. From the morning, when my friends and I arrived at the Metro station in Arlington to find that a swath of marchers was already chanting and getting pumped while waiting to get on the subway platform, to the climactic (and unplanned) march down Pennsylvania Avenue, to the huge collections of protest signs left at the Trump hotel and at the Metro stations, the march was a moving testament to the power of solidarity and a hugely important stand for everyone’s civil rights.

As we all know, there were many problems leading up to the Women’s March, most notably a lack of intersectionality. But ultimately, the march was massive, inclusive, and progressive. And if nothing else, this weekend showed that Trump made a huge miscalculation. The social justice movement has often been hampered by our inability to unite under a single goal, a single voice. But by insulting LITERALLY everyone, he united us under our diversity, making us far stronger than we were before. Hell hath no fury like 63 million women scorned.

Now let’s get to those pesky FAQ:

What are American women even marching about? You can drive, get a job without your father’s permission, and speak out of turn. What more do you want??

Let’s see: equal pay for equal work would be nice. The ability to make decisions about our own bodies, just in case we don’t want to be Handmaid’s Tale-esque baby incubators, would also be appreciated.

In all seriousness, it’s true that American women have privileges that most women in the world don’t, and that should be a huge part of the conversation. But that certainly doesn’t mean that we’ve achieved equality compared to American men. We still have a 1 in 5 chance of being sexually assaulted before the age of 22 (think about how many women you know for a second, and then tell me you don’t think that’s a huge problem). Studies consistently show that women are less likely to be hired if employers know their gender. Fields that were once dominated by men are valued less and pay less once they become dominated by women, and vice versa. And conservatives are perpetually trying to erode women’s ability to get abortions, even though the Supreme Court ruled that it’s our constitutional right.

And even if you don’t believe a word I say, even if you think that the pay gap is all due to “women’s choices,” that women can still “technically” get abortions (or that they shouldn’t anyway), that rape culture is not a thing, and that only women in other countries deserve feminists’ attention: the Women’s March was for them as well. POTUS is one of the few people in this world who is in a position to help women in other countries, and Trump not only has no plans to help them, but he is already working against them. On his first official work day in office, he reinstated the Global Gag Rule. While this law is ostensibly meant to prevent abortions, it won’t, and will actually force critical women’s health organizations all over the world to close. There is also talk of the U.S. pulling out of the U.N. under the new administration, which would pretty much ensure that we don’t contribute anything to the relief efforts for oppressed women around the world.

If that’s true, then where have you all been? All of these issues were present under Obama, so aren’t you all a bunch of nasty women hypocrites?

No. While all of these issues were present under Obama, there was a clear upward trend. I’ve identified as a feminist and anti-racist for fifteen years now, and in that time people have become more aware of the issues and more sympathetic to activists than I ever thought possible. We still had a long way to go, but liberals were undeniably winning the culture war. Even when progress didn’t happen as quickly as we’d like, progress was at least happening.

Women, POC, immigrants, and other minorities aren’t angry that they don’t have everything they want this minute, they are angry that we seem to be moving backwards. If Hillary Clinton had won, it wouldn’t have been perfect. She likely would have been better for white women than POC, and, in turn, better for oppressed peoples in America than on the global stage. But we would still live in a society where people thought they at least needed to pretend to care about the rights of minorities. Now, all bets are off, and we’re mad as hell about it. As we should be.

Why didn’t you just vote?

This question comes from Donnie himself, and like most of the things he says, I’m not really sure where it comes from. He lost the popular vote by approximately 3 million people, so every single person who marched on Saturday could have voted for Hillary, and he still could have won the Electoral College. He’s just drawing attention to the fact that he won a game, not a mandate.

Why should I listen to you when you have tattoos and piercings, and are generally ugly and gross?

I mean, seriously? Casual misogyny aside, this is the equivalent of a twelve-year-old being told that he’s a bully and answering with, “Well, what did you expect, wearing those stupid clothes and that stupid face? WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BE NORMAL LIKE THE REST OF US?”

But you know what, Senator McDaniel, I’m glad that you posted something that is so ad hominem and transparently hostile. It’s similar to the juvenile anger of the Gamergaters and Sad Puppies; you wouldn’t be so angry if you couldn’t see that this march was a force to be reckoned with. There’s no need for anger unless you feel like you’re losing your privilege and power.

If the Women’s March was trying to unite all women, then how could you exclude pro-life women? Aren’t you effectively saying that there’s one “right” way to be a woman, and it’s radically liberal?

This has been blown so far out of proportion, it’s ridiculous. The pro-life group in question was dropped as a partner, but the individuals were not “banned” from the Women’s March, as many conservative outlets have stated. All women were welcome to come and march under the unapologetically progressive platform.  But considering that the platform is explicitly pro-choice, it makes perfect sense that they wouldn’t want to be officially associated with a pro-life organization. The women within the organization were still welcome to march, and they did. No harm, no foul.

You keep talking about gender equality, but the platform talked about racism, immigration, and lots of other issues. So really, you’re just sore losers about Trump winning, right?

The platform for the March was a beautiful example of intersectional feminism, which essentially means that all oppressions are connected. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism, religious discrimination, and xenophobia all sprout from the notion that there is a “default” person: a white, wealthy, straight, cis, Christian man. Feminists would be hypocrites if they didn’t care about liberating everyone, and intersectional feminism ensures that more privileged women don’t achieve progress at the expense of less privileged women (which has happened many times in the history of the movement).

The march certainly wasn’t perfect in this regard; the organizers co-opted not one, but two names of historical marches led by POC before settling on the Women’s March on Washington, and initially didn’t have nearly enough focus on intersectionality. But ultimately, the organizers ceded leadership to women of color and the platform emphasized the liberation of all oppressed groups. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

Or… maybe social justice warriors just hate white people? Why else would you shame women for being “white feminists”?

“White feminist” is not a pejorative term for feminists who are white, but for feminists who are unwilling to examine their white privilege, often at the expense of women of color. As long as white feminists are willing to defer to women of color on issues that affect them most, amplify their voices, and actively engage with anti-racism efforts, most people will not lump them into the term “white feminism.”

While the white women who turned up at the march likely weren’t part of the 53% of white women who voted for Trump, it is important that they acknowledge that they are part of a group of people who are responsible for the oppression of people of color. Just as male allies need to acknowledge their privilege to be a part of the feminist movement, white women need to acknowledge their own privilege in order to be effective feminists for all women.

Whatever, liberal snowflakes. You were privileged enough to take the time and money to march against our President. Why didn’t you take that time to volunteer for women’s organizations, if you care so much?

First, demonstration has made real change since the beginning of our country’s history. What the fuck do you think the Tea Party was? For those of you who think it’s embarrassing or undignified to wear “pussy hats” or dress up as vaginas, is it any less juvenile to throw tea into the ocean? Unless you just have a problem with female genitalia (or on the off chance you object to the potential exclusion of trans women), you should be able to accept that this is obviously symbolic.

And even if some of the women who attended the march aren’t generally active in the movement (although many of them are), this criticism is incredibly disingenuous. I’d be willing to bet that none of the conservatives hating on the marchers were volunteering at women’s shelters that Saturday. So basically, they’re just criticizing people for not doing enough when they’re doing absolutely nothing.

Okay, okay, but you spoiled brats left garbage everywhere!! How can you expect us to respect you when you litter?

I have a serious question for conservatives. What the hell would you have us do? When there are instances of violence, looting, or vandalism among protesters, you use them to condemn the entire movement. When we block streets and increase traffic, you call us “rioters.” Now, feminists have achieved an entirely peaceful and legal protest–zero arrests, zero reports of violence–with hundreds of thousands of participants, and you criticize them for demonstrating by leaving their signs in a show of solidarity. Do you understand what “peaceful protest” means? Do you think any movement ever accomplished anything without disrupting things a little?

If you don’t agree with our message, then fine. If you want us to generally shut up–we won’t, but, you know, noted. But don’t pretend that your problem is with our methods. Don’t pretend you wouldn’t think our actions were justified if you accepted the premise that civil rights were at risk.

And by the way, what exactly do you think gun owners would do if a Democratic president tried to take their guns away? I’ll tell you: a hell of a lot worse than leaving their signs next to the Trump Hotel.

BUT MADONNA WANTS TO BLOW UP THE WHITE HOUSE! ALL FEMINISTS HATE THE USA AND WANT IT TO DIE!

I mean, I obviously don’t condone what she said, and I don’t think 99% of the marchers do, either. One inappropriate comment doesn’t invalidate the overall message, especially since Madonna was just a speaker, not an organizer, partner, or someone involved with creating the platform. She doesn’t speak for all of us.

Um… what about Linda Sarsour, the organizer who has ties to terrorist organizations and wants to impose Muslim rule on the United States? Typical liberals, excluding pro-lifers but embracing anti-Semitic terrorists!

Let’s get something straight: the vast majority of claims about Linda Sarsour are conspiracy theory, Islamophobic bullshit. There is no evidence that she has committed violence, that she has real connections to terrorist organizations, that she wants to impose Sharia law on the US, or that she is anti-Semitic. She has criticized Israel, which is not the same as being anti-Semitic. And as the chair of the Arab-American Association of New York, she has spearheaded outreach efforts to the New York Jewish community.

And most ridiculous of all, Sarsour’s critics are claiming that her amazing work in Muslim-American rights, including her successful fight to get Muslim holidays off of school in New York, is a symptom of wanting to “impose Muslim rule” on America. Let me clear something up for you, Breitbart readers: we get Christian and Jewish holidays off of school. According to the Constitution you claim to love so much, our government isn’t allowed to endorse any particular religion. So if anything, this is just a perfectly fair safeguard against “Christian rule.”

Now, when it comes to her position on Sharia law in other countries, she has spoken out specifically in favor of the economic aspects. As an intersectional feminist activist, she has spoken out for women’s rights and LGBT rights, so it’s safe to assume that she’s not uncritical of Sharia law. But then, there’s this:

I’ll give it to you guys: this looks bad. The people attacking Sarsour for her work in Muslim-American rights are definitely bigots, and in case it needs to be said, Muslim women can be feminists as much as any other person. However, trivializing the blatant human rights violations that have occurred under Sharia law is decidedly not feminist, at least not in any traditional sense.

However, in context, it seems that she was only reiterating that there are positive aspects of sharia law that Western people don’t concern themselves with:

While that first tweet was more than a little tactless, Linda Sarsour has proven herself to be an inclusive, compassionate activist time and time again, supporting women, people of color, Jews, indigenous peoples, and the LGBT community. And more importantly, this entire crusade to discredit her is clearly motivated by Islamophobia. All of the conservatives who are trying to discredit her by dog-whistling about honor killings and sexual violence are the same ones who don’t want to combat sexual violence in the military, who never blinked an eye when marital rape was legal in the U.S. until the 80s, and laughed off Donald Trump grabbing women’s genitals as “locker room talk.” Rape and gendered violence are not problems specific to the Islamic world, they are problems in every patriarchal country, including our own.

But–and this is the most important question–were there more people there than at inauguration?

The thing is, this is an incredibly stupid question. First of all, no one would expect Trump’s inauguration to beat either Obama’s first inauguration or the Women’s March, because Obama is the first black president while Trump isn’t the first anything (unless we’re counting reality TV stars as a protected class now), and because happy people aren’t nearly as motivated as angry people. And even if the inaugural crowds were bigger, that wouldn’t invalidate the platform of the Women’s March. As we’ve seen throughout history, real justice is hardly ever supported by the majority.

But, as long as you care about this enough to  blatantly lie to the American people, Donnie–the answer is yes. There were absolutely more people at the Women’s March on Washington than there were at the inauguration. I was there, and it wasn’t even a contest. I saw lots of red hats on Friday, and a few streets/subway stops were blocked off, but I still had no trouble getting around the center of the city at the height of inauguration. On Saturday, you had to wait forty minutes to even get on the subway platform. In Arlington.

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