From the Washington Post by Petula Dvorak:
The Women’s March needs passion and purpose, not pink pussycat hats
Please, sisters, back away from the pink.
Pink pussycat hats, sparkly signs, color-coordinated street theater, all of it is gleefully in the works for the upcoming Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21.
And that scares me a little. Because all of this well-intentioned, she-power frippery can make this thing more Lilith Fair than Lilly Ledbetter. And the Women’s March of 2017 will be remembered as an unruly river of Pepto-Bismol roiling through the streets of the capital rather than a long overdue civil rights march.
This is serious stuff.
It’s about human rights. It’s about the way 51 percent of our nation’s population still gets less pay, less representation in elected office and in corporate corner offices, less access to health care, less safety and less respect that the other 49 percent of our deeply divided nation.
The Women’s March needs grit, not gimmicks.
Bra burning. That’s the trope that folks have been using to dismiss feminists for nearly half a century.
In fact, no bra was burned at a Miss America protest in 1968 and 1969. Feminists threw false eyelashes, mops, pans, Playboy magazines, girdles, bras and other symbolic “instruments of female torture” into a trash can. But the Atlantic City municipal code didn’t allow them to set it on fire.
Yet because the idea of a burning bra was so lurid, it eclipsed the fact that in the 1960s, women couldn’t get a credit card without a husband’s signature, couldn’t serve on juries in all 50 states, weren’t allowed to study at some of the nation’s Ivy League schools, couldn’t get a prescription for birth control pills if they were unmarried, were paid 59 cents for every dollar that men earned and could easily be fired from a job if they got pregnant. Among other outrages. [BOLD is the editor’s]
Feminists were people who fought those inequalities. But thanks to a stunt, they’ve been called bra-burners for decades. Even Betty Friedan, author of “The Feminine Mystique” and mother of the movement, objected to what she called the “bra-burning, anti-man, politics-of-orgasm school” of feminism.
Sorry, knitters. I know the pink hats with pussycat ears y’all are knitting for next week’s march are totally clever and cute and fun. They’re a smart and snarky middle finger to the incoming Predator-in-Chief, who somehow managed to win the presidency despite openly bragging about grabbing women by their genitals.
But it also undercuts the message that the march is trying to send.
Dana Fisher, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, has been studying protests and political action for nearly two decades. And when she was in deep on climate change protests, she saw a hard-to-miss family: They all had mohawks, even the kid.
And despite the scientists, environmentalists and students trying to make serious points at the protests, all the cameras focused on the mohawk family. Everyone remembered the mohawk family.
But mohawks are fun! So were all those drummers during the globalization protests outside the World Bank and International Monetary Fund more than a decade ago, and the puppets and street musicians at the anti-Iraq War marches.
Occupy Wall Street was totally right. But their goofy protests, tent cities, body piercings, chants are what folks remembered. Meanwhile, Wall Street plundered the rest of America.
“It’s a difficult line,” Fisher explained. Because there’s the temptation to make the protest fun, enjoyable, to give it a street fair feeling and draw more people. Crowds amplify a message and get attention. It’s especially tempting for the Women’s March, which plenty of children are expected to attend.
Protests are successful and effective when they have a clear message, a clear mission. That’s part of what made the 1913 march by the suffragettes seeking the right to vote so memorable and the 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr.-led March on Washington so powerful.
They are unsuccessful when they are simply a stage for venting.
“I’m seeing the New York State Nurses’ Coalition, Planned Parenthood, Free the Nipple? I don’t even know what that is,” Fisher said, as we both looked at the partner coalition page for the upcoming Women’s March. “It’s just wacky.”
Planners are predicting 150,000 women at the march — a gathering that could deliver a strong warning to Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
But we can’t make a difference with goofy hats, cheeky signs and silly songs. This is our chance to stand up, to remind the world how powerful we are and demand to be heard. On equal pay and opportunity, on sexual assault, on reproductive rights, on respect. We need to be remembered for our passion and purpose, not our pink pussycat hats.
Petula Dvorak hit the nail on the head! I reprinted her entire column here, with full credit to her, because of the importance of what she is saying.
It is critical to remember that there is an objective to this march. I am just not sure what it is. No one is. Ask 20 women and you will get 20 different answers. Yes, the hats are cute and a good preparation for a day of fun. “Cute” is not the message I think most of us want to convey. We don’t want “cute,” “sweet,” or “girlie.”
If the right message were being sent, I would figure out a way to drag these poor old bones down to the mall, pulled hamstring, bad knee and all. But it isn’t. I am enraged on a level that there just isn’t an icon or gimmick for. I don’t want to hear snarky comments for the rest of my life over the pink pussy parade or whatever vulgar remarks anti-feminist men are going to throw out there to minimize and marginalize the power that women have lost in this past election.
Most strikingly, reproductive rights are extremely endangered, more so than any other time in the past several decades. Stature is also endangered. We just elected a president who never quite apologized for getting caught saying he wanted to grab women he found attractive by the p***y. That’s a deal breaker for me. We don’t need to be feeding in to this mentality. The level of vulgarity and disrespect that has been shown to women in general by this president-elect is simply unacceptable.
Women need to send a strong message that they refuse to accept reduced reproductive rights, any cut back in medical care, and educational and job opportunities. Women need to be careful not to come across in male terms. They need to address their concerns in female-speak, not male-speak.
I vividly remember women being fired for being pregnant–not single women–MARRIED WOMEN! I also remember having to have parent permission at age 21 to get birth control pills. I remember not being allowed to apply to the college in my home town because I was a woman. I remember what my best friend went through when she got a semi-legal abortion with a medical doctor in D.C. I remember her paying 3 times what she made a month for the procedure since she had to have a doctor, a lawyer and a psychiatrist who emotionally abused her. Women need to be reminded that Roe v Wade is not secure. It will take one Supreme Court appointment of the wrong persuasion to overturn that landmark decision.
I have been to three of the national women’s marches. They were great. The best ones were the ones where people made their own signs. I don’t know what you say about Trump and a total Republican take over. So much of my value system is offended, it’s hard to know where to start. Perhaps the strongest message to send is one of equality and reminding all concerned that women do vote. Send the message that having control of your own reproduction is empowerment–economic empowerment. Without that control, women will always be second class citizens.
I have passed the baton to the next generation.