Why is wearing a vagina hat easier than saying a life has value?

Women’s March 2017

When I decided to attend the Women’s March this year, it was through a lens I had been too blind to see the year before. While I didn’t wear the pink hat either time (a decision that might have been about sensitivity this year, but was more about my petulant distaste for doing what everyone does in 2017), I noticed how different my viewpoint was coming in again after a whole year. After the inauguration. After Charlottesville. After so many things that have far too slowly opened my eyes.

One thing I noticed this year was that many people still donned the hat, and many screamed about ending fascism and saying no the the KKK. But, when one woman started a chant about Black lives, it petered out quickly. I’d like to say that, as the chant I took part in trailed off, that I screamed it over and over again, loud and proud, getting the crowd to follow. What happened instead was me getting swept up in yet another round of “this is what democracy looks like.”

Which is great. I mean, this is what democracy looks like. But why in the hell is us saying BLACK LIVES MATTER so damn difficult? Why do we defend the pussy hat to the death, insisting that it’s a symbol of power, when that symbol can and does exclude people? I get it. We’re just now reclaiming the word pussy. It’s awesome. But, how important is this hat, really, if it hurts and virtually erases people who are fighting for the same things we are?

Bullshit excuse #1: “Saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ is hurtful to everyone else. What about all lives matter?”

I’m sorry, I missed the part where there’s an “ONLY” in front of that statement. Saying a life matters does not mean that other lives don’t. That’s lame as fuck. It would be like if I trolled a children’s story-time at the library asking why they’re discriminating against adults. It would be like if I posted about curing breast cancer and some asshole came up and said: “What about pancreatic cancer, you bitch?! Are you saying those people shouldn’t be cured?” If all lives matter, why the hell can’t we (yes, we, white people) say that black lives do?

Bullshit excuse #2: “Saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ is anti-cop”

Um, no it’s not. Saying you hate cops is anti-cop. Saying that black lives matter just means that black lives matter. And, guess what? You can address a system that imprisons and murders black men and women at alarming rates without saying you hate all cops. It is possible. It goes something like this: “While I recognize there are good cops out there, the justice system is mired in generations-old systemic racism that needs to be addressed.” We can admit that the way we police in America is problematic, and problematic in a way that results in people’s deaths without saying we hate every cop. We can say that black lives matter without saying that a cop’s life doesn’t.

Bullshit excuse #3: “I don’t know. Some of these activists are pretty extreme. If I say that ‘Black Lives Matter,’ wont everyone think I back extremism?”

To answer this, let me hit you with a totally ludicrous hypothetical, followed by a reasonable one. What if a new biography revealed that Hitler like totally dug strawberry milk? SHIT! You LOVE strawberry milk. And you’ve said so several times! Will everyone think you are Hitler now? But, in all seriousness, a lot of people say a lot of things. We seem pretty comfortable still saying we like Star Wars despite the fact that all of us share this fandom with insufferable racists. So … why can’t we say that black lives matter?

Obviously, it’s up to each of us to decide how we want to present ourselves. We probably can and will say things that are problematic, and that we will need to hold ourselves accountable for. But, to me, saying that the lives of millions of Americans matter is a no-brainer. And it’s a hell of a lot easier than knitting a hat.


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