First and foremost, let me say outright that I am a feminist. That is something I have no mixed feelings about. And for the record, we all do need feminism.
On January 21st, I joined about 50,000 other people in the Women's March on Philadelphia. Although the march began officially at 9:30AM, I arrived with a group of friends around 11:30AM. Before I even got to the starting point, Logan Square; I saw groups of people heading to the march from blocks away. There were so many people walking toward the Women's March I didn't even need directions.
Right off the bat I noticed a few trends; many signs centered around "female" genitalia, majority of the women at the march were white, and the police there were incredibly nice to us protesters.
Disclaimer: There is nothing wrong with female genitalia (I have it), I have nothing against white women (I am one), and the better part of the police are good cops.
However, the Women's March was supposed to be for all women. Not all women have "female" genitalia, and not all people with "female" genitalia are women. Although people who marched may not have meant for the march to be trans-exclusionary, ultimately the march was. Comments about "grabbing p***y" make sense given the remarks made by Donald Trump, but a feminist act of protest shouldn't center around genitalia.
Race was definitely a factor in the Women's March as well; it felt almost white-washed. Majority of the marchers were white and did not acknowledge the oppression that women of color face. Sexism and racism intersect in major ways, and that seemed to be swept under the rug. The Women's March would have much more powerful if it was inter-sectional and accounted for the different experiences within gender inequality. (Keep in mind, the privilege I have as a white woman.)
To continue with the the thread of race, I know that police would not have been nearly as kind if this march was led by people of color and/or Black Lives Matter. A large group of white protesters are not treated the same as a group of POC protesters. Period. And, I highly doubt the protesters who showed up for the Women's March will be at the next Black Lives Matter protest. This comes back to internationalization yet again. Social justice is supposed to be for everyone marginalized, not just those who have the privilege to be present.
Now that my critiques are over, there were also a lot of positives about the Women's March. Marching with thousands of people towards the same goals was a truly humbling feeling and powerful experience; I felt part of a larger whole. I got the sensation that change is possible, despite all the news since the inauguration. There was also a large presence of older activists, and an intergenerational protest was a nice sight to see. Plus, I scored some nice vegan Mexican hot snickerdoodle cookies.
All in all, I am glad that I was part of the Women's March on Philadelphia, but there were definitely some major issues within the march.
Note: All pictures of those above were taken with their knowledge and consent.