A Non-Exhaustive Guide To Inclusive Resistance Under The Trump Administration
How to support the cause without being exclusionary.
While many have commented on the massive turnout at the Women’s Marches, the demonstrations were notable for another reason as well. Large-scale protests, of course, are nothing new, even in recent history (and we mostly have women of color to thank for them — for example, Black Lives Matter and NoDAPL). What made these marches distinctive is that they predominately featured white women — aka, the demographic that played a crucial role in electing Trump.
Regardless of whether those who showed up weren’t these women (or were, but have experienced a change of heart after the fact), most of the marchers likely know women who cast their ballots for him back in November.
In general, many white women who identify as feminists tend to put their own needs ahead of more intersectional feminist issues — and by all appearances, this was very much the case at the marches. Signs like “No Uterus, No Opinion” and “The Future Is Female” excluded those who are trans or nonbinary, while an emphasis on the peacefulness of the protesting (including a viral video of white women high-fiving cops) put white privilege front and center, ignoring the fact that for women of color, interactions with cops are often quite different.
The women’s marches predominately featured white women — aka, the demographic that played a crucial role in electing Trump.
This cannot be our template for the Trump resistance moving forward; in the fight to come, some critical changes must be made.
While it’s wonderful that so many people are feeling compelled to take action now, it’s also crucial that those new to this level of civic participation learn how to do so inclusively. We have to listen to each other and consider each other’s needs, or else we’ll get nowhere. Intention doesn’t matter as much as impact, and the impact of some of the protest signs and actions at the Women’s March are bound to leave core members of our society—many of whom have been involved in activism for far longer—feeling erased.
The fight will be long, which means there will be a lot of chances to learn and to talk to our friends (and strangers!) about how to better advocate for them. Here’s a helpful starting point for how to be inclusive in actions going forward. If you’re already doing the things on this list, share it with those who may not be, so they can support the cause without being exclusionary.
Understand that not everyone can use their bodies to protest, and avoid ableist language.
While physically showing up to actions can be effective, it’s not the only way to resist — and talking about it as though it is not only leaves out disabled activists, but also undermines their efforts.
I saw a few tweets this past week that echoed the sentiment, “If you’re not in the streets fighting for our rights, you don’t get to say anything,” which is deeply hurtful for those who don’t have the ability to get out there for whatever reason, and erases other important actions they’re taking.
While physically showing up to actions can be effective, it’s not the only way to resist.
There are many ways to create change without marching or protesting: You can contact representatives and make your voice heard; you can use social media to spread awareness of the issues that matter to you; you can pitch articles to publications about the issues you have specific interest or expertise in; and you can call friends, family, coworkers, and even strangers to talk about how the Trump presidency is rapidly taking away even basic human rights. And that’s just to start.
Support actions other than those that directly affect you.
During Trump’s first few days in office, he’s already done a lot of scary things. He’s officially put in motion a repeal of the ACA, he’s signed executive orders to strengthen immigration laws, he’s ordered that Muslim refugees be banned from entering the country, and he’s ended global health funding for women around the world, among other devastating actions. It hasn’t even been a week, and already it seems too much to bear — however, that only makes it more crucial that we stand firm against the administration on all of these issues, because we are fighting for a version of America in which none of us is oppressed (I know, big dreams).
We are fighting for a version of America in which none of us is oppressed.
Just because you may not personally be in danger of getting deported, you should absolutely still support actions that directly oppose Trump’s immigration laws. White people, show up for Black Lives Matter rallies. Men, show up for reproductive health protests. In fact, if you can, put yourself on the line in situations where you are less in danger than others; it could save someone with less privilege from being harmed.
While it’s never a competition of “who is more marginalized,” we should always be aware of our privilege and step in where we can to protect those whose rights are more in danger than ours.
When you brag that your protests had no arrests, I wonder what you think that says about you.theestablishment.co
“Women” and “reproductive rights” have to be separate in the discourse.
Note: None of this is anything that multiple trans women haven’t said before (or better!), but for the sake of including it in an article about inclusive language moving forward, it’s necessary to keep in mind.
One major theme at the Women’s Marches was reproductive rights, which is an important issue — and one that’s in major jeopardy right now. However, it’s also an issue that requires far more critical analysis than just wearing pink hats, holding up a sign with a drawing of a uterus giving the middle finger, and asserting that “pussies grab back!”
Equating womanhood with anatomy is a false concept, and one that erases trans women.
While these efforts likely come from a good place, they reinforce the cissexism of our society. Equating womanhood with anatomy is a false concept, one that erases trans women while completely overlooking the fact that many nonbinary folks and trans men need access to the same reproductive health care that cisgender women are fighting for. While it does make it more complex (and not necessarily as succinct a protest chant) to recognize the fact that some women don’t have uteri and some men do (there are also nonbinary folks with and without uteri, as well!), we cannot move forward unless we include everyone, and take into consideration everyone’s needs.
Try to use gender-neutral language in event invites, mission statements, and all other communications.
We’re all going to need to work together, moving forward, and the language we use is important. When we send out Facebook events for actions, mission statements, and other communications, it can hurt some people if we use gendered rather than gender-neutral language. There are plenty of nonbinary and gender-fluid folks who feel erased when we use gendered terms, which can be easily swapped out — for example, when we see a job listing and it says “for the applicant whose hired, his/her duties would be,” it could easily say “their” instead—and there’s no reason to use gendered terms when addressing a group, anyway.
Challenge yourself not only to think about who you’re including, but also who you’re excluding.
In addition, try to think of what you really mean when you use popular catchphrases, like “The Future is Female” and other gendered expressions that may exclude nonbinary folks. Do you really mean that the future is female, or do you envision a future that removes power from the hands of solely (mostly white, straight, cisgender) men? Challenge yourself not only to think about who you’re including, but also who you’re excluding.
Learn from black women and other women of color.
Seriously, they’ve been doing this shit for a long time, and they deserve not only recognition and respect but also support and a goddamn rest. Spend some time reading black feminist literature, make sure to read up about past actions organized by women of color, follow black women activists on Twitter, and amplify their voices if you have the platform and ability to do so. Because of the work of so many black women and other women of color, there’s a wealth of knowledge about organizing and activism out there — you can support a lot of their work by buying their books, finding them online for up-to-the-moment updates, donating to their Patreon accounts, and spreading what you learn in the years to come (with credit, please).
Though these sections are not, by any means, exhaustive, and there are far more ways to be inclusive in the coming years, incorporating these thoughts into your resistance practices will be a solid start. It’s also important to acknowledge that, while these suggestions are split into sections for clarity, the resistance must be intersectional and must acknowledge the fact that the folks you’ll be working with are never just one thing. We’re all complex, and to understand each other and make it through the next four years (and beyond) we’ll have to approach each other through an intersectional lens, one that seeks to include each other while standing firm against the Trump administration.