international locations replicating last week’s women’s march in Wash., D.C.

Anti-Trumpers are just as capable of producing alternative facts

The women’s march may be one instance

So apparently, it’s not stopping at Washington. According to their website, the march has gone global. Its geographical reach is amazing!

The phenomenon strikes us as hopeful and inspiring. A seeming flame in the midst of all the cruelty, violence and meanness that dominates social media and international politics. This wave signals that the world is finally listening to what women have to say! That’s always a good thing, right?

But after reading its about page, I’m no longer sure its was really designed to honor the unique gifts of women. The detailed objectives sound ambiguous. The ideals they advocate are too broadly humanitarian. See for yourself:

The first paragraph tells us that this march is “committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion and those who understand women’s rights as human rights”. The march is also meant to represent “the rights and voices of progressive people around the world.” That just sounds like a description of any decent liberal human being, but in fancier language.

So who exactly is this march representing? Their description sounds like it represents anybody who wants to do the liberal, progressive, and humane thing. Hence, they peg “and those of others” to women’s rights. This all feels too centerless. It suggests that its authors didn’t want to make too narrow an argument.

If this group really wanted to march on behalf of women, why do they include values that have little to do with the unique gifts women have?

Equality, diversity, inclusion, progress are nice, beneficial values, but are these the best reasons to explain why women are worth fighting for and listening to?

Sorry to say it, this is one instance when names mislead and confuse, rather than clarify.

What also provoked these questions was when I noticed in the map above that my country, the Philippines, is one of those who hasn’t joined this trend. This doesn’t mean it won’t. It’s only interesting that it hasn’t. It’s interesting because women’s equality is actually something we are known for. (Some locals, like my brother, would even argue that the Philippines suffers from female domination.)

This unresponsiveness is especially surprising because for the last six months, we have been under a president notorious for his a-la-Trump comments about women. What one man says obviously cannot stand in for what 90+ million other people think. So, I wonder whether the lack of interest is because we’re satisfied with the current status quo? Or is it because those who can plan a march have noticed the name’s lack of focus?

I don’t mean to put down what I’m sure stems from worthy intentions. I’m just wondering why a march that stands for broad values carries a narrow, gender-specific, label? The inconsistency may be because other names would not be as attractive or pity-provoking. Understandable, but is it ethical?

Is to call it a women’s march, even if its objectives are far broader, a case of legitimate marketing? Or is this just another example of putting forth an “alternative fact”?

That being said, I can still see the good in what this movement is trying to achieve, and how, because of its name, it calls attention to an important issue.

I agree that women are now in greater danger of being exploited by the current political/ social order. Both our local president, and the newly elected U.S. president are signs that this oppressive tendency might only worsen. I see the danger. I also see the courage in pointing it out.

Nevertheless, preserving the dignity of women goes beyond politics. Protecting her dignity begins at home, and with ourselves. It begins with sincere self-reflection and inviting those closest to us to do the same.

To spark these moments of self-reflection, here are some questions I’d like us to think about frequently?

To parents:

  • How do you teach your sons to regard women?
  • Do you teach them to protect their sisters, female friends, nannies, grandmothers, aunts, and mom?
  • Do you help them discover the joy of serving and honoring the women in their lives?
  • Do you form them to run away from cultural forces that turn women into objects?
  • Do you teach them to cherish women as persons?
  • How do you teach your daughters to view themselves?
  • Do you affirm and cherish them enough?
  • Do you teach them to carry themselves in a way that draws attention to the beauty of their character and personality?

To men:

  • Do you listen to the women in your lives with openness and respect?
  • Do you eagerly seek out their opinions?
  • Do you value their insights?
  • Have you discovered why a woman’s sensibility and sensitivity is vital to the well-being of society?
  • Do you go out of your way to protect her?
  • Does your respect for women trickle down to these mundane details: opening doors, offering her a seat before taking your own, letting her walk ahead of you, and walking on the “danger side” of the road?

To women:

  • Have we discovered our own dignity beyond appearances and faux stereotypes?
  • Do we realize that the measure of femininity does not lie on the surface, but the kind of character we choose to form within ourselves?
  • Do we resist the temptation to abandon our sensitivity, empathy, relational gifts in order to succeed in the world?
  • Do we realize the value of these qualities not only in rearing a family, but in all aspects of life?

If there was a movement called “Women’s march” that asked its followers to reflect on these questions…

If this movement challenged not only politics demeaning women, but individual attitudes towards women…

If this movement invited each of us to form habits according to our deepened regard for women…

Then the name would reflect its substance.

If this were the case, the women’s march would not be another “alternative fact”. Instead, it would be an effective cultural counterweight to all the truth-twisting and women-stepping happening on top and around us.