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By Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA (2017.01.21 Women’s March Washington, DC USA 00094) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

If you have a death grip on your pink pussy hat, you’re marching for the wrong reason

Pink pussy hats are falling out of favor, and it’s about time. Last year, that pink sea looked like a sorority social event. This year, many women are saying goodbye to them. And they should. The hats have become a symbol of white feminism, and it’s not an inclusive look. If you’re marching in solidarity with all women, this should be important to you.

Instead, some women are fighting to wear them. One woman said, “It’s just a hat.” If that were the case, why is wearing it so important to you? Another said, “My hat is a badge of honor. I’m wearing it.” I don’t understand this badge comment. Did you do anything other than march down the street with that thing on your head and take selfies?

If you have a death grip on your pink pussy hat, you’re marching for the wrong reason. When I look at pictures of last year’s march, I see mostly white faces with some color here and there. I see huge smiles on those white faces. I see lots of pictures with arms linked and signs held high.

What I don’t see are many pictures of diverse groups of women marching together. As usual, white women kept to themselves and treated the day like any other fun-filled Saturday. For many it was a day to march for women — white women. How do I know? Because as soon as women of color and trans women said the march wasn’t inclusive or intersectional, they were verbally attacked. Like rabid dogs, white women shouted them down, claiming they were divisive and angry. Typical words used to silence marginalized people.

Some women believe fighting about these hats means the oppressor wins. Not true. Ignoring concerns of women of color and transgender women — that means the oppressor wins. Why? Because WOC and trans women receive little respect, justice or protection. So if you ignore their concerns, you’ve sided with the oppressor. No, actually, you are the oppressor.

For the record, organizers of the Women’s March aren’t taking sides about the pussy hats. They should. Their unwillingness to confront pussy hat enthusiasts says they’re okay with these women ignoring legitimate complaints that the hat excludes certain groups. The Women’s March should take these complaints seriously. If they can manage to pull together that many women at one time, why not take the opportunity to bring together all women so the march truly embraces everyone? The march will still go on. Women who decide not to attend because they can’t wear that thing on their head? It’s no loss.

I’m sure plenty of women will wear the hat this year, and I won’t automatically write them off as exclusionary. But wouldn’t it be better to just put on your wool hat and carry a sign or wear a t-shirt supporting your cause? What exactly does this pussy hat mean anyway? It certainly doesn’t describe the pussy of a black woman. I don’t know if the creator made them pink to mean pussies are pink, but it’s called a Pink Pussy Hat. And mostly white women have them. If you plan on wearing one, at least change the color. It’s only a hat if it includes you or if you don’t care that it excludes other women.

But you should care.

Last year’s march was one of the largest single-day protests in U.S. history. While the numbers were staggering, it would mean so much more if every woman felt she had a place there. There were too many stories last year of women of color feeling isolated, of white women shouting them down if they started chanting things like “Black Lives Matter.” Groups of Native American women in elk-tooth dresses and headdresses attended the march and were treated like a sideshow. White women took pictures of them while dismissing their words.

Let’s not forget that white women don’t show up in these numbers for immigration or BLM protests. It takes the issue to affect them before they care. Where’s the unity in that? This is why the Women’s March wasn’t nearly as successfully as it should have been. What will it take for these same women to get angry and mobilize to protest the deportation of Jorge Garcia, a married father of two who had resided in this country for 30 years? Or that in 2017, police shot and killed 1,000 people?

These are causes worthy of marching, don’t you think?

White women owe marginalized people their time and effort. After 53% of you voted that person into office, the least you can do is fight to protect the people hurt by your vote.