No, it’s not their march

Posted on January 24, 2017 by The Trailhead

Hello! I’m one of the daughters of Hoosier Pamphleteer Forrest Bowman, Jr. I’m also a lawyer, and a nature photographer and blogger. I write and post imagery regularly at my own blog, The Trailhead. Follow me on Twitter here.

Last weekend, I participated in what may have been the largest demonstration in United States history, by attending the Indianapolis Women’s March. I went home afterward and viewed the images and videos of the marches in other cities in amazement.

But in the days afterward, I’m seeing a lot of discussion sparked by the #notmymarch hashtag, started by women who emphatically reject the platform of the march and the march itself (as opposed to women who did not march but still supported the march and its platform). On my own social media feeds, I’ve seen observations that the march was not “inclusive” of all women, in addition to complaints that pro-life organizations were excluded. (The reality is that a pro-life group was ejected from the sponsorship of the march, but they still marched — and, according to Rose Hook, an attendee of the march, they did so with a 16 foot sign on sticks that violated the March’s rules, but still weren’t ejected or made to feel unwelcome.

Anti-Abortion attendees holding a sign “Stop Killing Human Beings”

A conservative Christian woman named Christy Lee Parker has been the avatar of much of the energy behind this, and as she puts it, “rabid feminists attacked” her after writing against the march on Facebook. Missing in her view of the meanness of the world is, of course, her own incivility to the people she demonizes. But that’s not unusual. We all do it sometimes.

But what I don’t understand is why anyone is arguing with her. She’s right. It wasn’t her march. We weren’t speaking for her. Whether she admits it or not, she will benefit from it. But it definitely wasn’t hers, and she is correct to wholly disown it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It is absolutely accurate that this march was “not inclusive” of all women, and it shouldn’t have been. The march was not named the “All Women’s March.” If it had been, it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful, because it would have been stripped of any principle or coherent vision. There have always been women who decide they are better off in the existing social structure, for whatever reason, whether that’s religion, racism, fiscal concerns, or whatever. When women were fighting to get the vote, there were women who fought against it. Critics have always attempted to use this to delegitimize feminism, as if we must have one hundred percent unanimity on any issue before its merit is acknowledged. That’s nonsense.

So in short, I don’t care that there were many women who rejected the march. And I don’t care that some pro-life women felt excluded. A few did not, because they organize their priorities in a way that led them to support the march. That is also fine. As pro-life Christian feminist Rachel Held Evans tweeted:

This may come as a shock, but in a march of nearly 4 million people, you will find more than 1 view on abortion.
— Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) January 22, 2017

This seems right to me. Evans herself is pro-life, though she is skeptical of illegalization and wrote a piece about her pro-life vote for Hillary Clinton. It’s worth noting that Evans is also somewhat reviled by the Christian right, precisely because of the nuance she brings to her beliefs. I appreciate the women who don’t agree with me or the March’s platform completely, but still supported it, or at least didn’t denigrate it. We can probably work together. Women like Evans and I disagree on the moral character of abortion, but we agree on a lot of other things.

But to any women who are angry because they’ve been made to feel like they’re a “disgrace to women” for not marching, I say, “meh.” This feminist, at least, is mostly indifferent to you. It’s not personal; I have friends and family who are on your side. I’d invite them into my living room happily, but I definitely don’t think I need them at the Women’s March. It’s not their jam, and I’m not interested in obliterating the principles I fight for to accommodate them. The suffragettes didn’t — which is, of course, why Christy Lee Parker was able to cast her ballot this year at all, and then post a meme about how she stands with the women who “marched…Donald Trump into the White House.”

There are always going to be the free-riders like Parker who utilize the gains feminism wins for them to shut them down for others, who turn around and declare feminists “rabid” and “man-hating”. And I don’t feel guilty for not inviting them along on my ride. There may be things we can agree on in the future, or there may not. But Parker is right. This was definitely not their march.

And I’m satisfied with that.

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