Recently, there have been some controversies swirling around this movement born as a response to the Trump presidency, beginning in 2016. However, there seem to be some deeper problems with the broader conduct of the organization, such as messaging, branding, and hostility towards certain groups of women. As I have hope for the future of this movement, it's important to note that it needs some improvements. Here are a few main points.
1. It's a misnomer
Many women are actually unwelcome to this event. Take "pro-lifers," people who believe that abortion is wrong and should be illegal. Many women feel that because they disagree on the issue of abortion that they are excluded from the rest of the conversations that affect women, such as equal pay and childcare.
2. It alienates women who voted for Trump, which is NOT helpful
Voter-shaming makes it difficult to build solidarity with those who could stand alongside us when we fight misogyny. If someone is open to changing their mind on Trump or voted for him because they felt unheard in this broken economic system, we should welcome them and provide guidance. I am not suggesting pandering, however, I believe that finding common ground can show how all women are hurt by misogyny. A women's empowerment movement should look to be inclusive, not antagonize.
Take this pro-lifer, Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who started an organization to help anti-abortion health-care employees find work. She said, "I'm not going to protest Trump's presidency. It's done. It's over... But I do think he needs women to hold him accountable." The issues she was concerned about were the pay gap, women's lack of access to health care, and workplace inequality. This aligns with the majority of the Women's March platform, so what should we do for women like Abby? This question remains unanswered under the current leadership of the movement.
We have to remember that these people are not evil. Many of them are just hurting, so let us keep our dialogue open.
3. It lacks clear messaging
Are we fighting misogyny? Is this generally about women's empowerment? Or are we only including our like-minded people in the fight for rights?
Again, on the issue of pro-choice and pro-life, there are liberals, democrats, and self-proclaimed feminists, and even seculars who have moral disagreements with abortion. Are they able to voice their opinion in the same way as someone who is pro-choice? If they believe in equality of the sexes but not with abortion, where do they stand?
All of these questions also remain unanswered, as the leadership of the Women's March continues to give mixed signals.
"Intersectional feminism is the future of feminism and of this movement," said Bob Bland, one of the Women's March co-chairs. "We must not just talk about feminism as one issue, like access to reproductive care."
However, their position shortly changed. According to The Atlantic, Women's March organizers erased the New Wave Feminists from their list of partners and website.
"The Women's March's platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one," the organizers said in a statement. "The anti-choice organization in question is not a partner of the Women's March on Washington. We apologize for this error."
So what is it? Are we going to show solidarity with organizations that don't necessarily line up 100% with our own? Or are reproductive rights end-game?
The president of the New Wave Feminists movement, Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa expresses her dismay at the Trump presidency:
"I was very concerned about the fact that in 2017, our presidential candidate was such a diehard misogynist" when she gave her reasons to join the Women's March.
For pro-life women looking for solidarity in this movement, it can be troubling if there isn't consistency on whether they are welcome or not. When there is a possibility for ally-ship in the fight against sexism, it may be advantageous to give women we disagree with a chance to join us.
We clearly need some revamping if we want a successful movement. Whether it happens from the top-down or the bottom-up needs to be decided, and whether the movement wants to be inclusive to women looking for solidarity or it wants to stand rigidly by its platform.