Another Women's March has come and gone, and this year's was just important as 2017's, if not more so. You wouldn't know it because it got all of about three minutes of coverage, as the media was laser-focused on the fact that Donald Trump broke the government (again). All over America, millions of people came out to march together, empower each other, and send a message to those frightened of strong, empowered women that they weren't going to stay home and be afraid.
No, the misogynists should be the ones afraid. Women of all sorts of races, sexualities, and gender identities showed up with their signs and chants to listen to speakers from all across the spectrum. Even some men showed up to support their mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters. Maybe a friend or two. It was a glorious moment of unified voice and solidarity. Unless you were looking at a few of the signs.
A lot of us saw them in the crowd and snapped a picture. Some of us saw them on social media, and some us even were the ones who made them. They were the signs that took the march and made it about themselves. The ones that took petty swipes about the 2016 election, the ones that attacked transgender women, the ones that attacked a political ideology they didn't like or endorsed the ones they did. Some even dragged racial issues into the march. These people suck; they're taking a moment when we should all be coming together in intersectionality and instead dividing us.
Last year, yes, there was a problem with the march in that it didn't include a diverse group of voices, and the organizers of the D.C. march took that criticism to heart and included speakers drawn from a variety of races, religions, income levels, backgrounds, and more for 2018. The organizers made sure to make others feel welcome and ensure the march was a place for everyone. Possibly related to that was a noticeable drop in the formerly ubiquitous pink pussy hats made so famous as a protest against Trump's "grab 'em by the pussy" comment. The hats lost a bit of favor because some felt they might be considered offensive to trans women and other non-vagina havers. This bugged me because it was the same problem listed above, but from a different direction as the petty, sniping signs.
Sometimes it ain't about you.
Sometimes you don't need to have a special place carved out for just you. You don't have to be mentioned by name or group. You don't need to be elevated, because it's about all of us. Here's a good example: The acronym that identifies our collective started off as LGBT or GLBT, but some people didn't feel any of those letters described them, so some of us added the Q. Then intersex people wanted to be added, so we did with the I. Then the non-LGBTQI allies wanted a special mention so we added the A. Now we have LGBTQIA. In some circumstances it works, in others, LGBTQ works. But as our community branches off into its own little groups and new identities show up, they want to add another letter. Ultimately I'm fine with whatever, but I'm going to keep typing LGBTQ for the most part -- if I'm trying to catch everyone, I type LGBTQ+ to get all the newly expanding identities to the acronym rainbow. I'm not erasing you, I'm not silencing you, I just don't want to type out something like LGBTQQIP2SAA three times a paragraph.
Similarly, during Pride season, we've seen protests that have shut down parades or festivals over the economics of the events, the social politics of being LGBTQ, or some other issue only tangenitally related to LGBTQ issues. Guys, it ain't about you. You got all year to protest at the planning meetings or organize a counterprotest, but don't block the parade and ruin everyone else's good time, especially considering that some of the people having a good time are 100 percent on your side. They just know it ain't about them.
If you can't tell, I'm super opinionated and like to share, and I've had it beaten into my thick skull over time that sometimes it ain't about me. Sure, I got an opinion or view, but it isn't always the time or place for my voice or view. I spend a lot of time reading Twitter conversations between people of color; there's this primal drive where I want to hop in with my opinion, but I fight it because the conversation ain't about what I feel or think. There are things people do or say that offend me a bit, but I won't say anything because it ain't at or about me.
The whole NFL kneeling protest? Yeah, I find it a bit disrespectful (to America, not the vets), but what Colin Kaepernick and the others are protesting ain't about me, it's bigger than me, and I agree with the goal of their protest, so you know what? I don't say anything 'cause there are things bigger than my views. Sometimes it's just about time and place. You don't use your grandma's funeral to stand up in the middle of the service to denounce the Catholic Church's history of abuse. You don't complain during a wedding about society's expectations of relationships, and you don't denounce consumerism on Christmas morning while opening presents. You pick and choose your battles.
So TERFs, you should probably save the attacks on and criticism of transgender women for another time. Die-hard Clintonistas and Berners, give it up. We unfriended you on Facebook in 2017 for just this stuff. People wanting to protest the fact that a majority of white women voted for Trump? His constituency is probably not at the march, and most are just as unhappy about that fact as you.
DSA, divesters, neoliberals, anarchists -- save it for Twitter. And those of you who might feel unrepresented because of a pink cat beanie, c'mon. It's January and those things are warm. It's admirable to want more difficult conversations, but every so often you gotta just meet in the intersection of where your differences converge and leave the rest alone. You got all the time in the world to fight over it, but just for a day or two, enjoy what you got in common and realize that sometimes, well, you know the rest.
AMANDA KERRI is an Oklahoma City-based writer and comedian, and a regular contributor to The Advocate. Follow her on Twitter @amanda_kerri.
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