Scroll To Top

My Worries for the Women's March


Will it truly be an inclusive gathering?

There's been much positive rhetoric surrounding the Women's March this coming Saturday in my hometown of Washington, D.C. Talk of attending the march has infused every sphere of my life: conversations with my work staff, meetings of the D.C. artistic community, fliers on my commute, and even my evening discussions with roommates. Almost all mentions of the march have been positive within these communities, even a real point of excitement. However, I cannot discuss the march without mentioning my trepidation.

Without a doubt, my most pressing fear for the march was and still is that it'll be another instance of the whitewashed feminist agenda being pushed forward while leaving persons of color, immigrants, and members of the LGBTQIA community in its wake, among others. I've certainly been encouraged by the diversity of leadership and the breadth of organizations that have joined up with the march since its inception. While the representation has evolved for the better, I'm still wary. The white feminist agenda is a carnivorous leech living off the blood of feminism. It condemns a man who uses slut slang but laughs with the white woman dressed as a "sexy geisha" for Halloween. It praises the female executive for "breaking the glass ceiling" but criticizes the queer women for not wearing pearls and heels to work. It empowers women to advocate for themselves in the workplace but says nothing for the women trapped in a broken prison system. This distortion of feminism repackages and repurposes the very inequality that true feminism incriminates.

Frankly, I'm afraid I am one of these women. When I participate in conversations concerning social justice, I often face a hypocritical aftertaste of only knowing half of what I'm talking about. My stomach turns when I remember that I benefit from the same privilege that boxes up others. I know that I'm part of the problem. Even in this post, the personal "I" appears far too often, acting as a touchstone of familiarity and a safeguard to criticism. If my thoughts are only pertinent to "I," then no one can label "I" part of the problem, right? As much as I try to stay on neutral ground, I need to admit the truth. Feminism isn't about the "I," it's about the "we." It's time to change pronouns.

So why am I going to the march? How can I participate if I know the potential counterintuitive consequences? Consider my attendance an attempt to reintroduce "we" into my dialogue. I'm attending as a woman who is working for the honor to be called an advocate. One of my insightful friends brought to my attention that the title of "advocate" is not self-imposed; it's earned through constant vigilance and daily practice. An advocate obviously fights inequality whenever and wherever they can. Being an advocate also includes having the strength to say, "I have the potential to be wrong." Being an advocate means learning from your mistakes so you know how to not make them a second time. Being an advocate means knowing that a win on an unequal playing field is no win at all, even if it may be their own.

This Saturday's events pose an excellent opportunity for this "I" to listen and absorb. Were I to attend the Women's March for myself, I would have already failed the purpose of the march. It's not a day for any one voice to be heard, but to learn how we can work and speak together. It's not a day to "overcome" our differences, but an occasion to speak with one voice while embracing our inspiring idiosyncrasies. We will not stand for oppression. We will not stand for inequality. We will not stand for a country that values the success of the few over the livelihood of the many. Hopefully by attending as a promoter for others and not a self-concerned spokeswoman, I can make progress toward being part of the solution and not the problem. I know I'm not perfect, but maybe this march is a step in the right direction.

TORI BOUTIN is a theater artist in Washington, D.C.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Tori Boutin