On January 21, women from around the country will come together in our nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington. Hundreds of thousands of women will fill the streets near the U. S. Capitol with their Rosie the Riveter arms flexed and their “woman power” signs bouncing in the air. They’ll stand tall and confident, filled with determination for their voices to be heard during the next four years of a Trump presidency.
A march like this has great potential for admirable goals, but its mission is a bit vague – standing in solidarity together for the protection of women’s rights and sending a bold message to the new administration that “women’s rights are human rights.” The mission statement ends in all caps, “HEAR OUR VOICE.”
But while this information alone has prompted thousands to register for the event already, it’s purpose has left many of us confused and disappointed. It’s upsetting to read the three paragraph mission statement and not be able to answer the most basic question: What rights are we fighting for? And to take it a step further, are we even speaking in unison?
Nowhere on the website does it list plans for what they hope to accomplish by marching in Washington, nor do they discuss goals for the next four years.
Motivating hundreds of thousands of women to come together and fight for a cause is compelling, but if you’re organizing a women’s movement, it needs to be for a specific cause that affects many women in our country and around the world – the gender wage gap, equal rights to education, the list could go on and on. We need to know what we’re fighting for and have a clear strategy to get things done.
Feminism encourages women to think for themselves – get the facts, use our brains, and make smart decisions. So why should we show up to march? According to the logic of the organizers for the Women’s March, simply because we're women. They expect us to say, "Oh cool, I'm going to go to this awesome event with hundreds of thousands of women because... I'm a woman!” This dumbs us down to one-dimensional human beings; it is the exact opposite of feminism.
Feminism celebrates the diversity of all women and appreciates them for who they are. Our unique minds, personalities, race, culture, etc. cannot be easily lumped into one category or even one cause.
If women are being asked to take a stand, we should be certain we know exactly what we’re standing for.
I know it's tempting to still attend – you want to make Susan B. Anthony proud with a selfie at the Supreme Court surrounded by hundreds of your new best friends to prove to the world that you are a true feminist. But it's time to move past the “I am woman, hear me roar” approach. Roaring is not the agent to affect change – strong, articulate ideas are. Being the loudest person in the room is not leadership. We need less women with noise makers and no agenda and more women with a vision and a strategy to move us forward.
To anyone who is attending the Women's March and completely disagrees with this argument, gather your thoughts and comment below. Your opinion has value, and we want to hear it. We must work together in order to advance the desperate need for women's equality and respect for women and girls in our nation and around the world. But we must be smart about how we do it, otherwise our cause will fall on deaf ears and no progress will be made.
The problem isn’t with our volume, it’s with our message.
As we stand on the shoulders of the great female leaders before us – Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and others – let’s make sure it isn’t merely our voices that are heard and our message itself actually sinks in.
Note: Already made your pro-woman sign and still want to march in January? Consider the March for Life, which stands for the most basic human right – the right to live. After all, this is the cause Susan B. Anthony would have marched for if she were alive today.