Look, white people have a limited understanding of the world. So do cis people. It just comes with the territory of privilege. We can’t see all the colors of the rainbow, even if it’s there in front of us.
So even though the unity principles for the women’s march were intersectional, it unfolds differently in practice. Pretty much any setting that tries to unify all “women” ends up privileging white, cis women over marginalized folks — “Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women” to quote the principles.
It probably didn’t occur to people that equating womanhood with vaginas is problematic (not all women have vaginas). And as much as white people try, if we aren’t actively engaged in multiracial, antiracist spaces, we’re just going to perpetuate whiteness as the norm everywhere we go. Even at the women’s march.
I went because my body matters. Showing up matters. The women’s march was not intended to be a disruptive protest — it was a public demonstration. Numbers mattered, bodies mattered. Showing up mattered. I didn’t agree with everyone’s signs, and I felt its overwhelming whiteness. But people who do not ordinarily show up for Black lives or for indigenous people or for immigrant rights or for trans issues took the Metro en masse, took their kids, took the time, took themselves out of their daily routine to show up. I hope they show up again. I hope I continue to prioritize showing up the way I did on Saturday. I remember showing up in 2003 for peace, and in 2006 for immigrant rights — those massive demonstrations were transformative times for me and the beginning of my learning how to “show up.” For many of those kids and families I saw on Saturday, it was their first time in the streets. I agree with the critiques that showing up one day is not the daily work of social change. But it does send a message, and I was counted. Just because I showed up to a “mainstream” event one day does not mean I don’t also do “the work” other days.
Through medical transition I’ve chosen to look and identify less as a woman, but I’ve lived in the realm of womanhood most of my life. As a transmasculine person I was there in solidarity, prioritizing this moment in history over whatever else I would have done that day. Gone to brunch? Watched Netflix? I’ve been doing that. I’ve been caring for myself, cooking healthy meals at home, setting boundaries on how much work I take home with me each night, watching movies in bed, hiking in the woods. On Saturday, my self care looked like BEING THERE, in the streets and on public transit with so many other bodies, being a part of the biggest demonstration in US history, in solidarity with people across the world — to just BE there and count my body in the numbers.
I went because showing up matters. The Womxn’s March was not a movement, it was a show of resistance. It didn’t seem to matter why people were showing up, just that they did. In the US, where people don’t ordinarily show up in the streets as a matter of practice, that means something. The Movement for Black Lives, queer people, immigrants, Standing Rock protectors, disabled folks have been building movements, asking people to show up and put their bodies on the line. For anyone who was ignited (or reignited) on Saturday, there are already people doing the daily work that you can be in solidarity with.
So where will we show up next?
Others, namely women of color, have written better reflections on the women’s march than this… I just wanted to get some incomplete sentiments onto the page and I welcome questions or challenges of my limited perspective. I appreciate the bullet point lessons in this article and the theorizing on Black womxn’s bodies in this article.