Poster Wars: The Women’s March & Performative Nature of White Feminism

Mahala Herron News

By Cierra Black and Omar Abdulkarim

 

In honor of Womxn’s Month and the budding discussion of social activism in today’s generation, we thought it appropriate to examine the National Womxn’s March that was formed under 45’s presidency.

The Women’s March in Morris the Saturday after the inauguration of Donald Trump as POTUS.
There unofficial headcount was 271, on a drizzly day in west central Minneosota. The marches were in really good spirits, though, as we marched from the Stevens County Courthouse down 4th to Atlantic Avenue (Morris’s “Main Street”), down Atlantic to 8th, across Atlantic, and then back down the other side of Atlantic to 5th.

As many of us are familiar with, the annual Women’s March which took place earlier this year on January 19, is a large event in which women from all over America come together in a demonstration meant to promote gender equality and feminism. Acting in the spirit of the Suffrage March of 1913, women across America protested the election of the current president whose politics include bigotry, sexism, and excusing abusers. While the march’s original vision may have been inclusivity and equity for women, it has devolved into a field day for performative activism that continues to uphold selective ideas of equality that still operate in the heteronormative and racial hierarchy of American society.

When opening Women’s March Los Angeles’ page, the first thing that you are greeted by is a flyer boasting how Los Angeles has been the largest women’s march for three years in a row. After scrolling, the next thing you come across is a page that promotes their merchandise. Finally you get to the section of the home page that asks for donations/funding. At no point on their homepage is a mission statement, goals, principles, or anything of this sort. The march and movement has grown to embody a large gathering of people wearing cool merch accompanied by signs—as evidenced by their own website. The march so clearly reduces the tradition of protests and demonstrations to an event that is both monetized and used to ease the conscience of self-proclaimed liberal individuals (whose idea of civic engagement and social justice work is affirmed by the amount of likes and retweets they receive on their posts).

Pink hand woven beanies have grown to become a staple image of the march. The ‘pussy hat’ has become a symbol for fighting back and reclaiming womanhood. Although the hats popularity has declined in recent years, many women were still seen sporting the beanie. Correlating a ‘pussy’ with womanhood not only reduces women to arbitrary physical classifications but is also extremely trans-exclusionary. Womanhood is not measured by the presence of anatomic body parts. The march has had quite the history in neglecting and ostracizing individuals who do not fall under the historical image of what it means to be a woman and continues to do so today in its exclusion of many Black and Trans women.   

Zi Todd, 4th year student and co-chair of BlaQue, eloquently expresses the sentiments many critics of the march uphold:

“To this day, I will continue to state “Fuck the Women’s March” because of its historic transphobia and misogynoir. White women in pussy hats and signs bolstering “the future is female” is far from progressive or feminist. In fact, it does the complete opposite. These white women protesting for “women’s justice” are the same ones who align with Trump. Although some may not have voted for him, asserting that “females assigned at birth” hold the master key to some type of political transformation completely erases trans women, butch women, femmes, and all black and brown bodies. Those who live within the margins remain ten steps ahead of mainstream white feminism, and I personally do not want to fall into a space that has never supported me. To the black and brown women who did attend, I commend you for making sure your presence was known. Asserting your identity in spaces where you are not welcome is a power struggle you are learning to reclaim. Maxine Waters said it best, reclaim your time, along with you energy and identity.”