My issue with the Women’s March: Divisive or Inclusive?

A protest is a form of unity, a complaint turned to action. But what happens when the sole goal of unifying women actually does the opposite?

The start of 2017 started off loud and demonstrative with the first and largest women’s march against THE Donald Trump.

I understand some women feel oppressed in the world. Despite the history of oppression, women have begun to break the glass ceilings with Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO) and Mary Barra (GM CEO) showing us women can be leaders in our millennial age.

Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland and Carmen Perez are the organizers of the Women’s March. Their objective is to remove Trump from his presidency. With the complexity of politics and the weakness of protest, this is highly unlikely. But I respect these women for empowering women to fight back against harassment and social repression. These attacks voice from Trump himself. However, another actor, who has the same motive, divides the big picture.

Credit: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Vanessa Wruble, a white Jewish woman experienced anti-semitism from the same organizers of the Women’s March. She was taken aback by their approach to have coloured women as leaders of the March. But that begs the question: are Jewish Women privileged? Wruble tried discussing with the organizers about her exclusivity, but they brushed off what they wanted to communicate: Jewish women are white and “Jewish people played a large role in the slave trade and the prison industry.” Tamika Mallory and Louis Farrakhan (leader of Nation of Islam), also claim that Jewish people profit off black and coloured people.

Credit: Kholood Eid for The New York Times

While she wanted to lead the March, she felt outcasted by the four organizers. Claiming Jewish Women aren’t oppressed is like saying every dog that barks bites. All women face oppression one way or another, and anti-semitism still exists, as we’ve grieved on the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Shouldn’t Wruble have the right to lead the March?

My cast on this issue is this. If people of colour continue to feel entitled to remove themselves from a secondary position (as not leaders of Women’s March), it devalues what colour means. The second we think of ourselves as less, we immediately put ourselves in that secondary position. Coloured people are not always the facade they project. Dark and black folks are not all African American. White folks in the Middle East does not prove they too are privileged. Even WIll Hurd (23th rep of Texas) represents 70% Latinos even though he’s black. We need to see each other as PEOPLE. We need to work TOGETHER. Wruble is not the ENEMY when she wants the SAME.

The Women’s March should focus on women, not the colour of people’s skin. What if Vanessa Wruble was LGBTQ+? Would that change who is in charge of the march? Do political leaders always have to be representative of their culture? My answer is no. I wouldn’t want to support people who see privilege in black and white.

However, I’m dubious towards liberal women who march and protest but don’t ask themselves if this is the BEST option they have at hand. Protests are one of the least effective forms of change. They are fleeting in nature and don’t grasp the attention of legislatures. My theory is that the digital age has facilitated protests, desensitizing them.

The main objective for this march is to unify and empower women. I’m afraid that the march, one that is supposed to be inclusive of all women, actually divides women in the process of voicing against Trump. However, by disqualifying Jewish women, I think disproves the purpose of Women’s March. What happens when a LGBTQ+ woman turns out to be Jewish? Are the lines blurred enough for the March’s complacency?

The march is what brings us together. It matters because we come together, holding hands with people we don’t know. Yet we feel connected. But I wouldn’t want to be holding hands with someone who thinks privilege only comes from the colour of my, or your skin. Would you?

Sources:

NYTimes The Daily Podcast Episode 515

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/jia-tolentino/the-radical-possibility-of-the-womens-march

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/23/us/womens-march-anti-semitism.html

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/08/21/is-there-any-point-to-protesting