It’s been almost a week since Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States. One day later, the largest protest in U.S. history took place; the Women’s March. There were not only protests in almost every major city in the U.S. but sister marches took place around the globe. I, for one, felt solidarity with so many people, not just women but men who let their voices be heard against the onslaught of rights violations and oppressive legislation churning off Donald Trump’s desk in executive order after executive order.
We marched for women’s rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, equality, fairness, and our right to affordable and accessible health care.
The crowds of people who marched, as well as, all the stories flowing from Facebook groups about solidarity were magnificent. I was so proud to be a part of it.
And then it started.
Posts started to creep onto Facebook slamming the marchers, belittling citizens who were exercising their Constitutional rights to protest peacefully. It didn’t seem possible but most of the posts were coming from other women. Posts like this one which minimalizing the assaults to women’s rights in the U.S. by claiming ours didn’t qualify compared with atrocities being committed in other parts of the world; as if “degrees of severity” determine the worthiness of a cause. Worse yet, they also claimed that it all boiled down to pettiness over our preferred candidate not winning.
Where was our sisterhood with the women posting these hideous memes and articles? Could they possibly be this ignorant to causes which ultimately affect them as well? I was so disheartened by this attitude of women; friends I thought I knew until I read this:
Dear women who voted for Trump and have nothing good to say about the Women’s Marches across the world,
I hope you take the time to read this because just days ago I didn’t have the energy to write it. I was completely spent from years of educating others as a queer Latina feminist scholar and activist, not wanting to build bridges between women who voted against themselves, tired of speaking with those who willfully refuse to listen. But then, I marched. After, I went home and watched millions of people march in bright pink pussy hats and went to bed energized and ready to keep doing the work.
When I woke up the next morning, I read some comments on various social media platforms that left me with one question for you: What do you get out of tearing down other women? Pause on that for a second.
Men who hate women love when you do this because you make easy work of their continued domination (another form of unpaid labor). And even though you don’t recognize it or want it, we did/do represent you because we represent/ed *all* women’s rights…whether the most radical of us like it or not that includes straight, white, Republican, conservative, cisgender women’s rights. We fight for your autonomy, your integrity, and your liberation even though (and maybe especially when) you don’t feel that it is needed. We’ve got your back and all we ask is that you reconsider stabbing us in ours.
Written by Jessica Pabón, the post tapped into the central vein of the issue and eloquently put into words exactly what I was feeling. She continued:
If you’ve been sexually harassed at work (1 in 3 of you), we got you; If you’ve needed a free breast cancer screening (360k per year at Planned Parenthood), we got you; if you’re a survivor of sexual assault (one every 98 seconds) or intimate partner violence (1 in 3 of you), we got you; if you’ve been paid a percentage of your male peers (anywhere from 50-80%), we got you. We don’t have to be friends for us to do this work on your behalf (hence the exhaustion I referred to at the start of this letter). In fact, you benefit most from our fight because you’re closer to privilege than we’ve ever been.
It’s amazing, the complete lack of regard so many women have for those who came before them; for the struggles those women went through. They endured broken bones and battered spirit affording us the opportunity to vote and to be treated (almost) as equals in many ways. It’s because women like us fought for those rights and yes…marched, that they have them today.
You don’t have to identify as a victim to recognize your victimization. You don’t have to be public about your victimization, but what you should consider is how you re-victimize millions of girls and women when you deny theirs.
Believe this: when you claim that we are crazy, stupid, overly emotional, and overly sensitive to distance yourself from us, you bolster misogynistic stereotypes that are then applied to you. No matter how you try to distinguish yourselves, you will continue to be categorized as sexual objects and second-class citizens only useful for reproduction.
Because we understand the toll heterosexist white supremacist patriarchal oppression takes, we recognize that being “woke” is an emotional commitment many of you reject. So you don’t want to fight for your own freedoms…fine. But please, if you’re not going to join us or build us up the least you can do is refrain from tearing us down.
So to all those who took to the streets and rallied when called, to those who continue to march, take action by writing or call their local, state and congressional representatives–fighting for the rights of all…I have never been more proud. You are what makes America Great. You always have been.