WHY I DIDN’T ATTEND THE WOMEN’S MARCH THIS YEAR
By Callan Shore
In 2017, I marched proudly in D.C. for the first Women’s march. I was inspired to take action and show Trump that he can’t control us women/femmes! In January of 2018 I once again made my way to D.C., fueled by solidarity and anger. But for this year’s Women’s March, I stayed home.
There were a few reasons I chose not to attend this year. For one, I felt that I could make more of a difference by calling representatives than marching, secondly, I was exhausted and busy. The main reason I didn’t attend though, was that Women’s March is not sufficiently intersectional. I want to preface this by saying that I am not judging anyone’s decision to attend. Many who were aware of these issues still went because they felt there was too much at stake not to.
WHAT WAS SO PROBLEMATIC
Before making my decision to skip the march, I decided to do some research. What I found out was complex, but deeply important to understand.
The leaders of the Women’s March represent many diverse groups, but it turns out there is antisemitism at the group’s core. The lines of evidence begin with the fact that co-chair Tamika Mallory attended a Louis Farrakhan event in 2015. Louis Farrakhan is the leader of Nation of Islam, a group that is openly anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ+. Farrakhan mentioned Mallory in the same speech that he claimed Jewish people are a detriment to society. Next, another co-chair Vanessa Wruble asserted that she faced anti-Semitic comments from Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez (another co-chair). Although some sources have said this did not happen, there are also many who have confirmed Wruble’s account. Additionally, a quick search through the Women’s March Instagram shows a lack of posts concerning Jewish women. For example, after Neo-Nazis and White supremacists came to my town of Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, the Women’s March did not acknowledge the major effects of this event on the Jewish community.
The Women’s March as a group has not done enough to apologize for or respond to the controversy, and individuals such as Mallory have done even less. This is not the first time the Women’s March has been called problematic though. From the very beginning it was criticized for copying the Million Women March led by black women in 1997, focusing on white women’s concerns over others, excluding women with pro-life views, and more.
WHAT WAS THE WOMEN’S MARCH LIKE THIS YEAR?
Many marches were canceled this year in areas including Cincinnati, Chicago, and California, and the D.C. march saw a large fall in attendance. Also, many people, including the woman who first sparked the idea for the Women’s march, have called for Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Bob Bland, and Linda Sarsour to step down as leaders of the Women’s March. As for the perspective of women of color who attended this year, the overall consensus seemed to be that it was not inclusive, the crowd lacked diversity, and the calls-to-action were vague and not inspirational. Nadya Okamoto and Deja Foxx are two activists who were especially outspoken about their negative experiences.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR FEMINISM?
All this controversy may cause you to worry that the movement is growing weaker, but as Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman from Call Your Girlfriend Podcast observed: conflict within feminism is not new, yet things still get done. In other words, it may feel like the end of the world for people within the movement to disagree, but that is how it has always been. Discussion and disagreement are essential to progress. Activism should not be comfortable.
Ultimately, the march is not where the true change happens. As we move forward, we must look out for and support Jewish women. Activism takes work and instead of dwelling on the Women’s March any more, let’s take action!
- Call Your Girlfriend Podcast: ‘The Women’s March’