Last year, I had a memorable encounter after I decided to participate in the 2017 Women’s March; someone asked me what I thought I was accomplishing by marching. While he was the only one who inquired, there’s undoubtedly many who either question the Women’s March or choose to ridicule it. Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren is one of these people, tweeting sarcastically about the 2018 Women’s March: “Nothing says ‘take me seriously’ like marching around in a pussy hat screaming profanities and demanding free things. #womensmarch.”
To address Lahren’s tweet, the pink “pussy hats” that she’s referring to are not meant to be raunchy. These hats act as an undeniable display of femininity that reclaim the derogatory term “pussy” from those who use it both to objectify women and perpetuate the gross stereotype that women are weak. While there has been some backlash about the hat excluding women of color and women without vaginas, the creators of the hats are aware of the controversy and have addressed it. On Pussyhat Project’s website, project member Jayna Zweiman wrote, “There are some people who have felt invisible because of this project… our intent was and always will be to support all women. We hear some of you saying that this symbol has made some women feel excluded.” She also added that she is open to suggestions about how to make the hat inclusive for all women. While the Women’s March isn’t perfect, Zweiman’s willingness to listen is an example of how marchers are open to ideas to improve so that the march truly represents every woman who wants a voice.
In addition, it’s clear that Lahren, who is notoriously anti-transgender, isn’t referring to how it excludes some women when she mocks the Women’s March in her tweet. Rather, she finds the hats ridiculous because they represent female genitals, and mocking them is an easy (and cheap) way to imply that the marchers are vulgar.
As for the “screaming profanities part,” unless Lahren happened to attend every single one of the 673 marches that took place worldwide Saturday, she clearly made a sweeping generalization about an entire group of people based on the actions of some of its members. At the march that I went to last year, only cheers and uplifting chants filled the air after powerful women like U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D–Mich., gave empowering, vibrant speeches urging everyone to fight for not just women’s rights, but human rights as well. There were no profanities being tossed around, nor did anyone shout insulting remarks about President Donald Trump or his administration. These things might have happened at other marches, but to reduce all women’s marches to the hate-filled chaos of a few is unfair. The Women’s March is called the “Women’s March” rather than the “Anti-Trump March” or “Anti-Republican March” for a reason — it is for women and other feminists to stand together and show solidarity with one another, so that they know that they are not alone in the fight for gender equality.
It most certainly is not so that women can ask for “free things.” What we want is for people of any gender to be treated fairly and with respect, whether it be in the workplace or out on the streets. We want the wage gap to disappear. We want access to healthcare. Many of the signs that people display in the marches show that what they want is better treatment — an end to sexual harassment is not a frivolous “free thing” that should be brushed aside.
However, Lahren is only one of many who choose to ignore the reason people march, whether it’s for women’s rights, immigrants’ rights or for the Black Lives Matter movement. Trump made the march about himself, tweeting: “Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!” Trump’s tweet is an embodiment of why women march. We are sick of men trying to take control of our narrative. We are tired of having our voices unheard.
Last year, I told the person who asked me why I wanted to march that I wanted to show solidarity with the women of my community. Now, one year after the presidential inauguration, I want to expand on that answer.
I did not march expecting the results of the election to change, or for Trump to somehow be impeached. I, along with everyone else who marched either this year or last, am aware that crowding the streets with signs and chants will not magically make Trump liberal. The people who march, both women and their supporters, do it to show solidarity and build morale. So while the women’s marches might not result in immediate government action, this movement is impactful because it reminds not only feminists, but the world that women will continue to speak out about issues that directly affect them. People like Lahren criticize the Women’s March for showing immature behavior, but there’s nothing juvenile about a group of passionate feminists standing up for what they believe in. It’s what Martin Luther King Jr. and other supporters of the Civil Rights Movement did; it’s what Alice Paul and other women suffragists did to advocate for the right to vote; it’s what members of the LGBTQ community did to fight for their rights. Like those before us, we will continue to stand in solidarity and let our voices be heard so that the world, knows we are not afraid to fight for what we believe in.
Krystal Hur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.