Division and Unity at the 2019 Women’s March

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In 2017, the largest protest in American history challenged the presidency of Donald Trump. Millions of people marched in Washington DC and across the country. Two years of fighting later, on January 19th, millions of men and women of all ages and backgrounds joined again to march. The Women’s March not only addresses women’s rights agenda but also countless other issues that face America. “The #women’s wave is coming, and we’re sweeping the world forward with us,” the Women’s March has declared.

The March was successful, although the turnout was smaller than expected. The low turnout was somewhat attributed to the controversy surrounding one of the March’s leaders, Tamika Mallory, and an Instagram post of hers involving Louis Farrakhan. Mallory’s caption praised the Nation of Islam leader for his work, despite his long history of anti-semitic statements and jokes. She defended herself by saying she praises him for his work in African-American communities but does not agree with many of the things he says. There was also said controversy about “financial mismanagement and failure to include women of all backgrounds.

Tamika Mallory (left) and Linda Sarsour (right), two of the Women’s March leaders who have come under fire amid claims of anti-semitism. (photo via Bloomberg)

The Democratic Party as well as The National Council of Jewish Women  cut ties with the March. The Democratic Party did make a statement explaining the importance of communication and support between liberal and progressive groups. Carmen Piez, the co-chair of the March, affirmed that the Women’s March and it’s sister protests do not condone anti-semitism, transphobia, or homophobia in any way. The organizers of the event continually stated that the March is open to all women and all people. Though many people did not march on Saturday because of these controversies, those who did march did so in solidarity with issues unrelated to Tamika Mallory. This movement is larger than one person’s opinions.

These controversies also lead to rivaling marches in other cities on Saturday. In New York City, a march was held by the Women’s March Alliance, which advertised their opposition of anti-semitism in all forms. There were also two rivaling marches in Philadelphia near the original Women’s March. The two events ended up mixing and many protesters could not distinguish which marchers belonged to each group.

The signs and speeches at the hundreds of marches nationwide read statements not just about women’s rights, but also issues related to immigration, abortion, sexual violence, assault, gender identity, sexuality, criminal justice, and many more. The March was not just a protest: it was also a celebration of the journey of the past two years and the progress that has been made. This progress includes the election of diverse women to Congress. Joining the 130 other women of the 116th Congress is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the 2019 Women’s March in 2019. (Photo via PopSugar)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a 29-year-old Puerto Rican-American woman from the Bronx and an avowed democratic socialist. Her campaign video shows who she is and exactly how she is different from the “old school” congressional platform. She is from a working, middle-class family and holds the values of the people she represents. She has been a teacher, a student, a waitress, and an organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign. In her video, she admits that “going into politics wasn’t a part of [her] plan.” But after noticing a lack of proper representation in politics, she stepped up to give the working class residents of New York’s 14th Congressional District what they need. She will endorse progressive healthcare, education, and criminal justice policies.

She attended the New York City Women’s March and spoke to the crowd, detailing her justice-oriented platform. Then, she said that she wanted to ensure that “the least among us is advocated for the most”. Thus, her speech perfectly encapsulated what the Women’s March stands for.

The March does not stand for any one person’s anti-semitic, racist, or homophobic beliefs. Rather, it stands for the empowerment of women and all people. And that is what on the streets in 2017, in 2019, and what we will see in the world in the future.

Featured Image via Broadsheet

About the author

Kendall Sommers is a freshman day student from Southborough, Massachusetts. She runs cross-country and will be trying squash and crew this year. She is also a tour guide and participates in Students for Sustainability, GSA and St. Marguerite's Partnership. She loves trying new types of writing, painting and playing with her two dogs. Kendall’s favorite thing to do is volunteer at Special Olympics and work with kids. She can’t wait to be a part of the Parkman Post and find a voice in her community.

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5 Comments

  1. Matthew Walsh

    I completely agree that the March should be intersectional, but to what extent should it take a position on issues like Israel? Do you think that Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory taking a staunch pro-Palestine stance is beneficial to the Women’s March’s principal cause?

    Fighting climate change, racism, homophobia, transphobia, mass incarceration, income inequality, and all that jazz should totally be included in the Women’s March’s platform. But I fear that adding a specific foreign policy position may alienate a lot of potential Women’s March supporters. I understand that being pro-Palestine is consistent with the March’s egalitarian agenda, but there are legitimate, reasonable arguments for the other side too.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is this: the Women’s March should totally take a stance on non-women’s issues as long as doing so won’t cause major infighting or alienate Women’s March supporters who disagree with one or two stances.

  2. Charles Brookby

    One of the greatest parts of America that sets us above almost every other country in the world is the extent to which we allow freedom of speech to be exercised. This is why I find it quite heartwarming when millions of people gather together to voice their opinion on a current event that is concerning them in modern times. This being said, I find it quite interesting how more often than not these events tend to sway from their original purpose: to unite against an isolated issue and express concern for the future. In the case of “The Women’s March” in Washington DC, this event did quite a lot of swaying.

    Not only can home-made signs be seen that expressed a deep hated for the current president of the united states, but there were others present that expressed negative feelings towards the NRA, distrust of all white men, and expressing, apparently, much needed legal reform with regards to LGBTQ rights. With all these different views gathered in one place, it is no surprise that extreme american leftists such as Tamika Mallory, who in a press conference announced her support of Islamic leader Louis Farrakhan, find themselves at the forefront of this movement. I find it interesting how people who are attending a women’s march, which apparently entails a humans rights march for every color group except white men, can support an American islamic system whos leader calls terrorists “freedom fighters”. In my mind it is unsettling to see how deranged many of these people are, because it has gotten to the point where people don’t even know what they are supporting anymore. These young liberals have become so hellbent on the downfall of the Trump administration and anything they even attempt to do, that it has lead to them making fools of themselves, and supporting radical islam promoters, all in a great effort to come off as someone who lacks any “ist” adjectives one might use to describe them. Political correctness in America has taken a dark turn, and is now forcing a leftist way of thought and speech onto citizens so that they “feel bad” whenever they speak their mind on issues that might offend a listener.

    Let us not forget, however, the fact that these people who have gathered to express their concern on women’s rights in America simply cannot help themselves from involving a wide variety of other issues completely unrelated to what they initially set out to do. This is why when millions of liberals gather together to accomplish a political goal, little gets done. Great, americans know how you feel, not like we get enough of that on television every night. Awesome, you came together and had an experience that made you feel empowered. But what has gotten done about it? The answer is simple: very little, because the problems that these people march for are not nearly as large as the media has brainwashed everyone of them into thinking it is. Not all white men want to rape women. Not every employer has a subconscious bias against gay people. Not all immigrants come to this country with good intentions. It would be lunacy to recognize these tainted opinions as truth: but what is heartbreaking to watch is that millions of young americans already do.

    In conclusion, I urge more young St. Markers to use their heads and think, before assuming that what they hear from the news is fact. The purpose of this response was to highlight the fact that when people bring other social issues into a march on a specific issue, the focus of the march becomes heavily diluted, and people end up only raising awareness rather than accomplishing their goals. I as I said at the start of my response, I hold a great value on free speech, and especially enjoy camaraderie and unity around attempting to accomplish political goals. It is my greatest hope that any student reading this response who agrees with me come and talk, because all too often I am left feeling like one of very few students at St. Marks who hold these views. As a bonus, I would urge the Parkman Post to write an article highlighting a march for life, or a second amendment march, so as to see how other St. Markers might feel about what those marches stand for, and how successful they might be.

    • Matthew Walsh

      Charles:

      I appreciate your comment. You obviously put a lot of time and thought into it.

      However, I find it a bit ironic that you’re upset about PC culture and people being “offended” at things when you yourself seem to be offended by the fact that the Women’s March doesn’t march for white men. Last time I checked, white men aren’t being disproportionately incarcerated, brutalized by police, having their reproductive rights stolen from them, or their native lands pillaged. White men don’t need a march, and you and I both know that. And if you valued free speech so much, you’d celebrate the fact the attendees of the Women’s March brought signs with controversial messages. As Rand Paul (who I’m sure you like) has said, we have the First Amendment not to protect talk about the weather, but to protect controversial political speech.

      I also question some of the words you use to describe “young liberals.” Are we really “deranged?” That seems pretty ad hominem to me. It’s also a bit of an oversimplification to assume that young liberals just blindly challenge Trump. If you were at the Women’s March, you’d see that the criticisms of the administration were cogent, fair, and defensible. It’s unfair to just claim that young liberals are brainwashed.

      Another thing: what media outlets are you referring to when you say “media?” Not even the most progressive political commentary magazines are suggesting that all white men are sexual assaulters or that employers hate gay people. I have no clue where you got that information.

      I hate to play identity politics, but it’s extremely easy to just write off minority issues if you’re not part of a minority group. Let me tell you this: suicide rates among trans folk are still disgustingly high. African-Americans are way more likely to be brutalized by police and sentenced to long prison terms than white people. A CDC study found that nearly 20 percent of all women in the US had experienced a rape or an attempted rape. Those are all pretty big issues.

  3. Joy

    Excellent i love this

  4. charles Brookby

    Matt:

    I want to start by saying that in no way am I throwing a fit because there is no march for white people. I never said that, and I don’t believe that.

    Secondly, I agree that free speech should allow for additional topics of controversy to be addressed at any event, but what I was questioning in my response is how effective is it to have such a wide variety of subjects present at such an event. My point was that it simply takes away from the power of focusing on one topic. While awareness will be raised just by the name of the event, I tend to find that after that point these events lose effectiveness due to a throng of different desires.

    Thirdly, I think it is pretty fair to suggest that many of these people at this event want the impeachment of Donald Trump. Let’s be real: the guy has said some pretty terrible things. Right minded Conservatives and Liberals can agree on this. This being said, I still have yet to find just cause to impeach president Trump. If he has done something worth impeachment, or maybe multiple things, please let me know. Im sure I don’t follow the news as closely as you do.

    On the topic of “oppressed America other than white men”, I’m sure there is truth to some, or most, of what you are saying. But if you want to start a statistics war, I’m probably not your best guy: again, I don’t really follow the news. Here is what I can speak to, however:

    I am not very up-to-date on the trans community, likely because they make up roughly 1.2 million Americans, which is less than .5% of the total population. This being said, they are still citizens, and more importantly, still humans. But why might the suicide rate among these people be so high? Well I’d like to start with the fact that there is a chemical deficiency in their brain composition which leads to gender dysphoria. This constant battle between identity and physical self is something that prompts many people, not just transgender folks, to question their value. I would love to see a world where everyone accepts everyone for who they are, but it has to start with people accepting themselves for who they are. For someone with gender dysphoria, this is very difficult. If anything I have said above doesn’t make sense, or seems insensitive, please allow me to explain my reasoning in person. I find that written words are half as, if that, effective as a conversation.

    In terms of black people in America, I highly suggest you watch this youtube video. Though you may hold your breath the whole time, try and recognize that what Mr. Starks is saying, is actually very true about life in America. This also lines up with many of my beliefs about the Black community in this country, and there are studies and facts to support this truth. Have a look. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faolY5_hnIc

    I don’t know what else I missed in terms of responding to your response, but I look forward to a meeting that I am aware the young republicans and young democrats have coming soon. Please feel free to come find me in the halls or send me an email.

    Lastly, I would still like to see The Parkman Post publish an article on some sort of Conservative rally in order to see what conversation starts around that subject. Even if the article bashes the event, it will help me to understand how the editors of this post feel about widely held republican beliefs.

    all the best.

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