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Est. April 5, 2002
January 26, 2017 - Issue 683

Women’s March
Old and New Tensions

"Unlike previous women’s marches and
waves of feminism that had primarily been
an intentionally exclusive group of female
country club members that spoke to Betty Friedan's
feminine mystique of upper-crust 'pumps and pearls'
wearing white women, this march was intentional in
bringing various women and their voices
and concerns to the organizing table."

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The number of people who took to the streets for Women’s March on Washington in D.C. and its sister marches across the country and the globe far exceeded the expectations of local and national organizers.

In a sea of pink cat-eared “pussyhats” nearly 5 million people from all seven continents carried placards that read “Make America Sane Again,” “Men of Quality do not FEAR Equality,” “Viva La Vulva” and "I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept” to highlight a few, showed a counter -inauguration to the nation’s newly elected president’s vision for the country and world.

What was also on display at the marches was a resurgence of feminism that was multi-generational, highlighting an amalgam of issues - abortion, equal pay, immigration rights, environmental protection, transgender rights, police brutality, to name a few - that might possibly be the beginnings of its fourth wave called “intersectional feminism” embraced by both women and men.

Unlike previous women’s marches and waves of feminism that had primarily been an intentionally exclusive group of female country club members that spoke to Betty Friedan's feminine mystique of upper-crust “pumps and pearls” wearing white women, this march was intentional in bringing various women and their voices and concerns to the organizing table.

Tamika Mallory, one of the D.C. organizers and African American, told Joy Reid of MSNBC the morning of the D.C march that by devising an intersectional policy platform centering the voices of women of color “you set the agenda or you become an agenda item. ”

However, with women of color voices and concerns as an organizing principle which asked white women “to listen more and talk less” and check their white privilege at the proverbial door at the marches there was neither a consensus nor solidarity among the white sisterhood majority with that objective.

“Can’t we rise above the sniping about ‘privilege,’ ‘white feminism,’ ‘intersectionality,’ and hierarchies of grievance in the face of Trump and the dangers he poses to the American and international liberal world order and women everywhere?” Emma-Kate Symons wrote in her op-ed piece “Agenda for Women’s March has been hijacked by organizers bent on highlighting women’s differences” for Women in the World in Association with The New York Times.

Fearing that once again a white sisterhood would exploit not only our suffering to legitimate their cause but also our black and brown faces for photo-op moments where we are seen and not heard or if heard but not taken seriously, mixed feelings erupted among women of color about attending the D.C. and sister marches.

In Jamilah Lemieux’s op-ed “Why I’m Skipping The Women’s March on Washington” in Colorlines wrote "Much of the post-election news cycle was dominated by White folks wringing their hands: How could this happen? Why did it happen? There was lots of weeping and wailing from women who could get the answers to those questions by simply asking their relatives, friends and partners who put Trump in power…And just what would this “million” women be coming together to march about—their mothers, sisters, homegirls and friends who elected Trump in the first place?”

The nagging question many women of color who did and didn’t attend marches have is: “Where was this same energy and white sisterhood at the polls in November?”

53 percent of white women voters cast their ballots for Trump whereas 94 percent of black women cast theirs for Hillary.

Many women of color did indeed attend the marches. Angela Peoples went to the march in D.C. wearing a Trump-like red hat that read “Stop Killing Black People” and carried a sign that read “White Women Voted for Trump.”

However, it must be noted that there is a difference between marching for everyone’s civil rights versus marching because white women now recognize a diminishment of their white privilege.

For example, white women who voted for Trump were also at the D.C. March. Many of these women shared with me they voted for him for economic reasons. And while many of them didn’t mind Trump cutting Obamacare, they were both awake and upset to learn that the Affordable Care Act, which they now receive but will be repealed, was the official name for Obamacare.

The Boston March turned out a record number of nearly 200,000. But a white female friend of mine troubled by the complexion of the march sent me an email stating the following:

"Maybe you can answer this question for me. There was a lack of Blacks and People of Color at "The March"…WHY? What can be done to motivate more to “come out"? Am I naive?”

While I can’t speak for all black people I can say that a lot of African American men and women didn’t show up for sister marches in predominately white towns and cities, in spite of the marches’ internecine tensions, where the practice of “Stop and Frisk” is overwhelmingly acted upon people of color.

However, it’s these sort of questions that help forge change in building a stronger sisterhood and a safer world. Editorial Board member and Columnist, The Reverend Monroe is an ordained minister, motivational speaker and she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Rev. Monroe does a weekly Monday segment, “All Revved Up!” on WGBH (89.7 FM), on Boston Public Radio and a weekly Friday segment “The Take” on New England Channel NEWS (NECN). She’s a Huffington Post blogger and a syndicated religion columnist. Her columns appear in cities across the country and in the U.K, and Canada. Also she writes a  column in the Boston home LGBTQ newspaper Baywindows and Cambridge Chronicle. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Rev. Monroe graduated from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church in New Jersey before coming to Harvard Divinity School to do her doctorate. She has received the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching several times while being the head teaching fellow of the Rev. Peter Gomes, the Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard who is the author of the best seller, THE GOOD BOOK. She appears in the film For the Bible Tells Me So and was profiled in the Gay Pride episode of In the Life, an Emmy-nominated segment. Monroe’s  coming out story is  profiled in “CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing up Gay in America" and in "Youth in Crisis." In 1997 Boston Magazine cited her as one of Boston's 50 Most Intriguing Women, and was profiled twice in the Boston Globe, In the Living Arts and The Spiritual Life sections for her LGBT activism. Her papers are at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College's research library on the history of women in America. Her website is  Contact the Rev. Monroe and BC. 




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