Pondering a proactive, pro-choice, protest

Somewhere between 0 and 7.5 billion people of all shapes, colors, genders, ages, etc. filled streets around the world on January 21—the day after Trump’s inauguration. I give this wide range because if I tack down a number, some will discredit what I have to say because I exaggerated the size of the crowd. Others would say of the same number, “Well you’re not including all the people…” Frankly, with all the allegedly doctored inauguration photos and alternative facts about attendance numbers, there’s just too much phallic comparison going on. Besides, when it comes to getting people to march, no one compares to the communist and fascist dictators of the previous century.

Nevertheless, there were a lot of people marching last Saturday and they must have had a reason for doing so. Yet, aside from being called the Women’s March, it wasn’t clear what all these people were protesting.

The official Women’s March website lists eight Unity Principles as the reasons for protesting: ending violence, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, and environmental rights. I probed further in conversations with friends, relatives, and their friends online. Many of the women I talked to had participated in a local march.

Strangely enough, the reasons given to me first-hand did not clearly line up with the principles outlined by the organizers of the marches. One person told me that the marches were not about Donald Trump, and “only a male egotist like Trump would think that.” Meanwhile, a woman in a different thread made it clear that the central goal of the movement was to show a united front against Trump.

Indeed, almost every person I talked to mentioned unity as a significant component to the Women’s March. It seemed ironic then that each person’s given rationale for marching was different (and often opposed to) another person’s purpose. There was no clearer discontinuity that on the issue of reproductive rights. The leaders of the movement made it very clear that no one marching on Saturday could support the sanctity of life. In the week leading up to the march, organizers released multiple statements saying as much and very publicly revoked their partnership with New Wave Feminists (a group whom they discovered to be pro-life). Nevertheless, many pro-life women attended the March and many others (who didn’t attend) still voice support for the movement as a whole.

An old proverb about one rotten apple spoiling the whole bunch is bobbing in my mind, but there’s no fun in letting a simple adage diagnose all that’s wrong with this movement.

A movement must be able to highlight the plight of the alleged victims of the protested injustice. I do not believe that this movement has successfully demonstrated that injustice. Compared to the civil rights movement—where sit-ins, bus boycotts, and other actions resulted in brutal reactions from the law—the worse injustice the women marchers could claim was not having the right to kill their babies (which they actually do have), the cost of tampons, and a supposed wage gap.

Currently, women face no more legal persecution and victimization than men do; we all have the same constitutionally guaranteed rights and abuses of these rights statistically burden more men than women. I say this not based on my own research, but on the lack of anyone supportive of the movement bringing anything to my attention. In fact, many have admitted that they aren’t protesting any sort of institutional mistreatment.

With no goals of changing laws or policies, this movement was apparently an attempt to change the hearts and minds of those who witnessed it and encourage and support those who participated. In that way, this march is completely unprecedented. Even the recent LGBT movement had clear goals of how the government could ensure equal rights for homosexual couples by implementing laws that restricted discrimination against LGBT individuals.

The movement also lacks strong leaders. Linda Sarsour, one of the original organizers of the Women’s March, claims Sharia law “is reasonable” and “makes a lot of sense.”

I’m not the only one who thinks that a movement should have clear leaders and clear policy goals. Speaking on Black Lives Matter 2 years ago, Oprah said, “What I’m looking for is some kind of leadership to come out of this to say, ‘This is what we want. This is what has to change, and these are the steps that we need to take to make these changes, and this is what we’re willing to do to get it.’”

There were other discrepancies that further confused me and turned me off the movement.

The mantra “women’s rights are human rights” was repeated frequently in conjunction with the movement. This statement does not distinguish what rights women are lacking, nor does it prove that some made up rights like the right to free hygiene products is actually a human right. A male ally of the Women’s March quipped online, “If you are of the opinion that ‘women’s rights’ refers specifically and only to the concrete laws that govern the civil liberties of citizens, please entertain the possibility that the people who marched might think otherwise.” I have entertained that possibility and concluded that it must be so. However, that does not illumine the alternative type of right they are demanding.

“We’re marching to keep our rights.” also appeared frequently. Does that mean that the protests were just a flexing of muscles? Again, what tangible influence were the marchers trying to have?

Marching under the banner of equality without naming the inequality is nothing more than wasted time. Am I asserting that our society has completely equal metrics for men and women? Of course not; by nature men and women face different struggles and therefore equality in that sense is relative and impossible to make universal. The best a society can do is have laws that treat men and women equally, and then, as individuals, convince one another to act justly towards those around us. A march isn’t going to achieve that.

There were vagina costumes… a lot of them.

Pro-life persons are defending the marches. You can’t support a movement based on a pros and cons list. Supporting the Women’s March means that you commend the vision (blurred though it may be) that the movement has for society. That vision includes increased access to abortion—which should be enough to exclude most Christians—among other progressive principles that I encourage everyone to reject.

5 responses to “Pondering a proactive, pro-choice, protest

    • Hi Jill, a few of my purposes in no particular order:
      A) Rustle feathers
      B) Keep my Diamond scholarship
      C) Bring attention to the issue
      D) Get bylines
      E) Criticize the women’s march
      F) Fill gaps in the paper
      G) Start a conversation


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