‘Why Did They March?’ — A Question From Privilege


Screenshot from Oxford Dictionary app

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.”

Gish Gallop: 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.

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.

Just because you have no trouble voting, doesn’t mean no one else does. Just because you claim to have experienced no gender-based discrimination, doesn’t mean no one else has. And so on.

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”.

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* 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.

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6 Comments
  1. Marline says:

    Well done hun. I know those that question the March believe it to be a pointless, fruitless effort. To them all I can say is how wonderful it must be to live in your world. Until 2008 I never thought a Black President was possible. This is something I never thought I would see in my lifetime. I still have never seen a woman president. How nice it must be to never have to worry about someone you don’t even know making laws about what you can and cannot do with your own body. How nice it must be to never have been told how well spoken you are despite your race. To anyone who did not grasp what this march was about, you might never understand, but know this march was for all of us even you.

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      Thanks, babe. I know I can never fully understand things from a woman of color’s viewpoint, but know that I have your back no matter what.

  2. Dana says:

    I’m old enough to remember feminism from the first wave and there were a myriad of reasons I participated on Saturday (number 1 for me was to draw media coverage away from Trump and on that front I thought we succeeded tidily). One of the most heartfelt moments for me was when the men participating (my husband among them) starting chanting “your body, your choice” and the women responded, “our body, our choice.” In the 400,000 plus who turned out in NYC there were no men haters. Just a lot of humanity and people unhappy with Trump and his incoming administration.

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      I’m glad you got to go. I wish I could have gone to the Austin version — I’ve been told they jam-packed the Ann Richards Bridge and the streets leading to the capitol building. But I have a hard enough time keeping track of my children here at home; I wasn’t about to insert them into a crowd of thousands — no matter how nice I assume those people to be. :-)

  3. Dana says:

    I was impressed by how well-behaved all the children at the march in NYC were. It was a long day and it couldn’t have been that much fun when you’re only 3 feet tall standing surrounded by people much taller than you. Plus – I’m not sure how you explain a “pussy hat” to a 4 year old… (in fact, I was marching with a group of friends and we had a very risque sign – but it marginally looked like a pink pussy-cat so it appealed to a lot of the children, much to the chagrin of many of the parents – most just told their kids, “it’s a cat” without further explanation.)

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      LOL. Yes, “it’s a cat” would have to be my response for now. Though Rebecca is INCREDIBLY intuitive when it comes to things like that. She has long been aware that adults use euphemisms as a kind of “secret code”, and sometimes can tell when something *must* have a deeper meaning. She gets that from her mother. From me, she inherited the “why” gene, which forces us to always keep asking questions until we’re satisfied. “But WHY did they put a cat on the poster?” she would probably ask.

      I can only assume you saw mostly well-behaved children is that the ones of us with kids who will run through a crowd without a care probably kept ours at home. :-)

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