I’ll admit my bubble has grown thicker over the years, so I was flummoxed when I saw multiple posts over the past two days wondering why women marched — in at least 600 cities worldwide — on Jan. 21. Twenty years ago, I probably would have been asking the same questions — without irony — but today I feel disconnected from that former self. Today, the answers are obvious.
In defense of my former self, 20 years ago, I did not have internet access then, and thus could not have performed a five-second search on any of dozens of search engines built right into today’s browsers. That excuse is unavailable to the people asking the question in 2017, especially since they posted their questions online.
Any search with the terms “women’s march” will quickly direct you to the primary Women’s March website, which is well-designed and has a clear link to its Mission & Vision page.
Noteworthy: none of the questioning posts I saw were written by the people who posted them; they were copied-and-pasted from elsewhere on the internet (I don’t know the original sources). Many of the ones I saw were identical to each other. Most included the following phrases:
• “There is nothing stopping me to do anything in this world but MYSELF.”
• “Quit blaming. Take responsibility.”
• “I do not blame my circumstances or problems on anything other than my own choices…”
• “But do not expect for me, a woman, to take you seriously wearing a pink va-jay-jay hat on your head and screaming profanities and bashing men.”
• “If you want to impress me, especially in regards to women, then speak on the real injustices and tragedies that affect women in foreign countries that do not have the opportunity or means to have their voices heard.”
Every such post I saw was a perfect example of Gish gallop — a “fallacious debate tactic of drowning your opponent in a flood of individually-weak arguments in order to prevent rebuttal of the whole argument collection without great effort”. Each phrase and sentence is easily refuted alone, but to refute all of them would require unreasonable time and effort. It’s easier to just ignore the posts (which I did) and go march (which I intended to do, but my wife’s schedule didn’t permit*).
People who think feminism is “wearing a pink va-jay-jay hat on your head and screaming profanities and bashing men” have admitted they get their information from regressive sources. Again, a simple internet search would clear up any confusion. Feminism is: “the belief and aim that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men; the struggle to achieve this aim”. Nothing more; nothing less.
The posts included privilege-soaked phrases saying they’ve never been discriminated against, they have no problems voting, they’re already in control of their bodies, they already have all the choices they want, and so on. In other words: “I didn’t march because I, personally, have not experienced any problems.” They refuse to be aware that other people experience problems not of their own making. It’s the height of selfishness and a clear picture of privilege.
Also, just because women in some other countries are treated objectively worse than they are treated in the U.S., doesn’t mean women in the U.S. should suddenly declare victory and settle for the status quo. That point is ludicrous on its face. (Should I give up my hope for a promotion because I heard some other guy doesn’t have a job?) We can advocate for human rights — including women’s rights — in other nations and advocate for full equality in the U.S. simultaneously.
While everyone is welcome to their opinions about just about anything, some things are simply not opinions.
I actually saw one post claiming that the lack of opposition from authorities (zero arrests) proved that the women were marching for nothing. The logic was: If they weren’t met with oppression during the march, then they are not being oppressed. As someone smartly responded in that thread: “We weren’t marching for the right to protest; we already have that.”
One final point is that not everyone at all the marches was there for the same reason. Some readily admitted they just wanted to show up President Donald Trump, eclipsing his poor inauguration attendance with jam-packed marches. Others said they primarily were protesting the Republican plan to eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood. Many said they had multiple causes in mind — as listed on the Women’s March site, including voting rights, civil rights, freedom of conscience, etc. Quite a few were protesting Trump’s regular and consistent denigration of women. Others spoke out against the theocratic designs of the new vice president and certain cabinet nominees. Men marched too, some of them holding signs that read: “Quality Men Do Not Fear Equality” or “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like”.
* When I first heard of the Women’s March, and learned that a sister march would be held in Austin, I planned to go. Back then, my wife and I were assuming her job schedule would be different by mid-January. She would have the weekend off and stay home with the kids, and I would go alone to the march. I had her full support. As it turned out, higher-ups at her job were confused about the dates her job would change, and it hasn’t changed yet. She had to work on Saturday and I stayed home with the children.