We got a lot of work to do. It doesn’t involve punching Nazis upside the head.
Like a lot of people, I was part of the huge crowds in Washington, DC this weekend. And, like a lot of people, I didn’t just go to the Women’s March, but participated in protesting the (mis)Inauguration on Friday.
Friday was not a good day for protesters. From what I saw, the police overreacted with excessive force including pepper spray and flash grenades. From news reports, some people broke some stuff.
There was a lot of violence in the air. From the right, a bunch of people in red hats walked by and told us to “get a job!” My family yelled back “I have a better job than you” and “read a book.” Then from the left spoiler candidate Jill Stein walked by and a flurry of insults were traded culminating in “Science is real! Vaccines are real, Jill!” (note to self: I need to work with my family on coming up with more cutting insults).
Perhaps it was the smell of pepper spray that pushed us all into yelling at one another. Perhaps the acrid smell of pepper spray mixed with cheap weed pushed an anonymous man in black to punch famed Trump supporter and founder of the alt-right Richard Spencer upside the head.
Don’t get me wrong, watching the video of that creepy white supremacist Spencer get sucker punched gave me pleasure. Who doesn’t want to hit Spencer for his ridiculous views that America belongs to white people and that Jews and Blacks and everyone else needs to get the hell out (he describes this as “peaceful ethnic cleansing”)? Who didn’t feel hot white rage watching him give the nazi salute and shout “Hail Trump!” shortly after the election last November?
According to defenders of the punch (and there are many) this was a necessary part of anti-fascist activism. Words alone will not suffice. The only response to fascism is, well, beating it up. Over at the Nation, Natasha Lennard argues that
if we recognize fascism in Trump’s ascendance, our response must be anti-fascist in nature. The history of anti-fascist action is not one of polite protest, nor failed appeals to reasoned debate with racists, but direct, aggressive confrontation.
Apparently attempting to create solidarity between peaceful protesters and black bloc rock throwing, fascist punching sorts, Lennard writes that
You don’t have to choose between pink hat and black mask; each of us can wear both. You don’t have to fight neo-Nazis in the street, but you should support those who do
Call me a pussy, or call me a feminist, but I don’t support white men hitting other white men in order to protect our rights.
I’m a pussy. I don’t want some jerk who thinks I’m Satan (and there are many such men out there) hitting me upside the head. I get threatened nearly every day by white men because of things I’ve written or said. This has been going on for twenty years, since I first started writing online. These sorts of threats have gotten more violent and more personal in the age of Trump, culminating a few weeks ago with a man tracking down my cell phone number to threaten me with rape for my stupidity.
I’m also a feminist. Violence is a masculinist tactic, a way to dominate others, a vision of a “might makes right” world that has nothing to do with the world I want to live in. I don’t support it because intersectional feminism has taught us that when white men protect our rights with violence it generally doesn’t end well. White men “protected” white women from black men with lynchings. White men of the GoP “protect” women and children from the dangers of abortion and homosexuality. White men long “protected” women from the burdens of property ownership, education and voting.
If the pussy power of millions of people (of various genders) marching around the world for a more feminist future means anything, it has got to mean that we stop making heroes of white men committing violence in our name (even if it is against white supremacist scumbags).
Here’s to a more feminist future, where we fight them not just with logic and facts, but derision, humor, irony and yes, if need be, hot pink knitted hats. Or, to quote a few posters I saw this weekend: All power to the pussies! The future is feminist!