The Women’s March Sparked a Long Overdue Convo About Feminism
Words by Keely Quinlan and Kayla Jackson
There’s no arguing that this weekend’s Women’s March on Washington marked a turning point for feminism.
A lot of people questioned what the march accomplished. Why are you all marching now? What was the point? What are you protesting against?
Obviously, those who didn’t attend would ask those questions. Without seeing or feeling the energy of those marching for change, it’s easy to assume that the march did absolutely nothing.
For those of us who attended, some of those questions were answered.
The fact is that people from all over the world came together. Some travelled hours or days just to take part in the march. Last minute, the two of us decided to attend the march together. Not only as friends, but to be a part of that new revolution.
The march brought change because of the diversity of people that came out. What really happened was minorities were introduced into the feminist movement — and members of the feminist establishment realized how underserved by the movement women of color feel. We’re finally moving away from “white feminism,” and towards a more united resistance against inequality and injustice.
We know what you’re thinking: how can you even say that?
Well, after interviewing as many attendees as possible and giving ourselves a few days to really think about it, we’ve got the proof that most people agreed on: change is happening.
READ MORE: An ROTC Recruit Says Joining the Military Is Her Ultimate Form of Feminism
Our experience at the march gave us a unique perspective on the others who came to the protest. It allowed us to look at our personal friendship in a different way. As two 20 year-old black and white females from completely opposite backgrounds, we’re both still kind of figuring out what the march means going forward, but these are our takeaways.
Keely Quinlan and Kayla Jackson
The march gave the feminist movement a moment to regroup. We needed to figure out what is still standing in the way of equality. From this, the march was going to hopefully create a unified stance on how to move forward through the upcoming struggles we’ll all face from President Donald Trump’s administration.
The reality is we are still dealing with sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and a whole slew of other cracks in the foundation of our society that have kept us separated as a country. And now that we have an administration in the White House that stirs up all these things, this march was beyond needed.
But even then, how were we able to assess an entire movement from a march? For every sign, attendee or speaker, another personal story was added to the cause of feminism.
And sometimes those personal stories push us into an uncomfortable spot. When we have to face the realities and experiences of others, we also have to face our own. Some with privilege, and some without.
This privilege is the main reason that we have had a hard time unifying, and when confronted with their own privilege, many white feminists have a hard time realizing the affects of it.
Merima Repesa went to the march, and she said the exclusion of women of color and trans or non-conforming people is a huge problem within the modern brand of feminism. This issue is what is often called “white feminism”.
“White feminism is a serious, serious issue within actual feminism that needs to kind of be brought to light and realized by said white feminists that only care about certain aspects that only affect them within the feminism realm,” she said.
But this is nothing new.
In fact, women of color felt so marginalized by the original feminists they had to create their own movement. Ryan Warwick, another attendee, said that was because the mainstream movement for women’s equality refused to address the issues of minorities as also being a part of feminism.
“I know there’s a separate minority movement called womanism,” Ryan continued, “especially for the African Americans who didn’t feel included in the original feminist movement. So now we can actually address all women of all color and all trades. I think it’s overdue, but I’m so excited it’s actually happening.”
READ MORE: Meet the Muslim Artist Tackling Race, Gender and DC’s Gentrification
Manuel Somoza and Yume Takeuchi
Niko Harris also came to the march. He shared with us a few of his beliefs on what people of different backgrounds need to do in order to achieve this unity we all really want.
“I think that to stay connected, we need to reach our hands out to other people. White women, reach out to women of color. Men, reach out to women. In order to keep it going we need numbers, we need power we need unity,” said Nico.
But that’s not to say there aren’t white women out there who recognize that discomfort as being a privilege that aren’t afforded to feminists of color.
“I think today was the kick off celebration, but a lot of people were expressing how uncomfortable they were, and how cold it was, how long it was taking,” said attendee Alex Nye.
“Nothing about the next four years is gonna be comfortable,” she continued, “and you have to be ready to like sit in that discomfort and work towards moving forward. This is the exciting day that we all get to celebrate but this is the start of so much work and everyday resistance.”
This discomfort of white feminists is what helped to introduce intersectionality into mainstream feminism. The Women’s March on Washington possibly revealed a whole new set of struggles that many white women didn’t know others were experiencing, and helped to somewhat open their eyes to what intersectionality is all about.
However, Yume Takeuchi was a little bit more skeptical and unsure on how create this unity.
“You know, I’m kind of curious to see what is going to become of all of this, including a name [for the movement] because I think this is the beginning. This is obviously not the end, it’s kind of the catalyst. So I’d like to see what that is. I’m not really sure,” Yume said.
READ MORE: Why OITNB’s Diane Guerrero Is Marching This Weekend
Thankfully, one speaker basically laid out an entire plan of action.
Michael Moore’s speech encouraged everyone to start resisting daily, and actually gave a few steps on how to accomplish that. For attendee Sarah Lorentzen, she thought Michael’s speech gave resistance some much needed clarity.
“Well the one thing that I really took away from what Michael Moore said is that we should join things,” Sarah said. “I just feel like continuing the discussion and to never stop talking about what’s going on until we have tangible progress.”
Alex Nye and Rosemary Turquie
READ MORE: Meet the Muslim Artist Tackling Race, Gender and DC’s Gentrification
And this tangible progress can and will be created through intersectionality. It’s no longer about just being a woman. It’s about all of the facets of your identity that intersect because, at the end of the day, none of that is mutually exclusive.
Even men of different minorities felt that the Women’s March was more than just about women.
“I am Puerto Rican and gay, so as a double minority, I think this upcoming presidency is going to pretty much affect many different minorities, not just women,” Manuel Somoza said. “But, it is a perfect time for all Americans to stand together with women and finally say ‘We stand with you, let’s do this together.'”
One marcher we ran into was Padma Lakshmi, also known as the host of Top Chef, agreed that it’s time we get unified underneath feminism. “[The march] is incredibly important not only for equal rights, but for the environment, for immigration, for the economy, for healthcare and most importantly for common decency,” she said.
“It’s incredibly nourishing to the soul to see how many people actually are here and that we’re united in the fight for democracy,” Padma continued.
The march did not solve every problem. In fact, it might have created a few new ones, but at least we believe it has helped to bring awareness to white feminists of what intersectionality is. It shed light on several relevant issues, not just for marchers, but people all around the world.
It has created an open dialogue to help us figure out how to move forward together.