On January 21, 2017, I took to the streets of DC alongside thousands of other women supposedly joined in unity and solidarity with the rights of all women, but what I experienced said otherwise. Even in the weeks leading up to the march there were issues between white organizers and organizers of color as well as attempts to distance the march from sex worker rights activists within the women’s movement. But after much fuss from the wider activist community and threats of boycotts and counter-demonstrations by those standing in solidarity with sex workers, they quietly reversed their public stance, adding support for sex workers back into their platform.
Despite these setbacks, I still held out hope after seeing how organizers were at least somewhat responsive to criticism and how the march was ultimately made up of various elements, some more reactionary and some more revolutionary. I was there to network with the revolutionaries and build from there. However when I and several fellow anti-fascist activists split from the general inauguration protests to join the Womens March in solidarity, we were met with distrust, hatred, and even bigotry. Not only was my womanhood questioned by several transphobic “feminists” but several liberals attempted to unmask me and other activists and even went so far as to complain to the police, having them swarm us and demand that we unmask or leave.
We did neither, continuing to march for the rights of all women within the confines of the law and even met a kind movement elder who apologized for her sisters’ behavior, checked in on our mental and physical health, and offered us water and food, wishing us safety as we parted ways. Eventually the lack of solidarity from the rest of the marchers became too disheartening and so we left to join the other J20 protesters elsewhere.
When the Women’s March anniversary rolled around, I began seeing local events pop up in celebration, and acknowledging that my city is slightly better on these issues than others, I considered going to our local solidarity march just to check it out and see if it was any better. After all, the Women’s March had gained some notoriety for celebrating the birthday of former Black Panther and current fugitive Assata Shakur on their social media so it couldn’t be all bad, could it? But then I realized that the rhetoric was still vagina-centric, still barely acknowledged trans women and their issues, still lacked a strong intersectional analysis, and seemed to be much more of an anti-Trump rally than an actual women’s rights march.
I’m not interested in protesting Trump. He’s part of a much larger problem, a problem that I thought the Women’s March could be in a position to address at least a little. Instead the Women’s March seems only marginally distinguishable from a Hillary Clinton rally, making one wonder if most of these middle class white women would even be marching if Trump hadn’t won. Take your bad vagina puns and ugly crocheted hats and fuck off. I have no ill will towards the amazing activists in Codepink and others who have attempted to inject more radical politics into the Women’s March over the past few years but I don’t have that kind of patience at the moment. Come back and grab me when the March is serious about fighting for the rights of all women, until then I’m sitting this one out.