The Problem with Pussy Hat Activism

a haiku I wrote on the car ride back. — The text reads “a million women // just like it was before they // promised us anything”. There is a taped in photo reel i found on the ground; it looks like it’s of Sylvester Stallone in a white suit.

I saw a lot of signs at the women’s March, & as I marched down Constitution ave I couldn’t help but think about the power of symbols. The power to unify & divide; the power to give strength to & liven an idea. So it came as no surprise when I saw people talking about the Women’s Marches incredibly high emphasis on vaginal iconography.

To me, the pussy hats & vagina costumes that I saw were not just an exclusion of trans women like me but also of trans men, sex workers, POC, & everyone else that was was failed by earlier feminist movements.

Yes, there are issues that apply specifically to people with vaginas, but consider how these signs/costumes can be exclusionary or even unproductive in producing the goals that we, as modern feminists, strive for.

For example, if you want to talk about lack of access to reproductive care maybe don’t brand it with a pink labia. Black women die in childbirth three to four times as often as white women. African-American & Latinx women account for 80% of HIV AIDS diagnosis while only representing 25% of the female population. (source) Are you really supporting the women who most need access to reproductive care?

Ask yourself, are women being sexually assaulted because of their pussy? Clearly not; or else trans women would not face the staggering statistics that they do. — By calling for people to respond to sexual assault by ‘using their pussies to grab back’ you are excluding some of the people most affected by patriarchal violence.

The idea to draw power from one’s vagina takes root in earlier feminist movements & those perpetrators of that idea deliberately crafted it so that it could not be accessed by trans women, trans men, & people of color. Feminism that centers a pretty pink vagina as its rallying cry fails many people on the falsified fringes of womanhood, & isn’t a symbol that all women(/femmes/people) can stand behind. In my own opinion, both as an activist & as a woman, any sort of modern feminist movement should absolutely decry the second-wave feminist ideals that refused intersectionality.