To the Women Marching on Washington

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Today is the day that the United States will inaugurate the 45th president. People are outraged, and rightfully so; the majority of their voting population voted for someone who has assaulted, harassed and demeaned women on a myriad of occasions.

Tonight, many women will march on Washington to send this message:

Women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us. – Mission Statement of the Women’s March

I cannot go (I’m a world away and I can’t even go to the Kansai peace vigil because I’m working tonight.) But there are many of you who can go, and who will. This is so important, but I’m writing to you to ask you something equally important. Please be critical of your involvement, and recognise your privilege to be able to be involved. Also, please don’t let this be a one time show of support. If there is one thing we have to learn form this election is that its all nice and well to talk the talk, but in the following years America will need our continued support.

First, on being critical of your involvement. Activism is such a privilege. So many of us – especially people like myself – white, cis-gendered, straight – passing, reasonably able bodied (read: invisible disabilities), and middle-class. I have all the trade marks of someone who can go to this march, without much thought or stress. Please keep this in mind when you look around you. Please click that link for an incredible opinion piece by Jamilah Lemieux where she discusses that ‘I don’t know that I serve my own mental health needs by putting my body on the line to feign solidarity with women who by and large didn’t have my back prior to November.’

Be aware of what the people around you are giving up or risking to be there. Most people there either have time off work or are taking time off work. Many of those women will bring their children or need child care. The women of colour standing around you will hold many different fears including but not limited to the racist policing system and rampant Islamophobia. Some women will not be there as their disabilities will not allow them too, whether this be a physical barrier or a metaphoric one. Some women may not be passing as women when you see them for fear of the violence that often comes with not fitting societies binary. While the space they are going to is a safe one, travelling to and from may not be a place where everyone will give them permission to be their truest selves.

When you are at the march, pause each time you feel like you are about to pass judgement. If our Mother Earth can allow all these beautiful souls to co-exist then certainly you can too. But also pause when you judge who is not there, as there are so many factors that could lead to that decision even if someone does really want to support the movement.

Lastly, I beg of you not to let this be one good deed to start the year. Don’t let this be an act to assuage the guilt that as a white woman you are part of the demographic of which 53% voted this man in. There are so many other ways you can help. This list showcasing just a few of the ways. Anyone who calls themselves a feminist, especially a feminist and an American voter, needs to seriously question how we let such a misogynist be the leader of the United States.

We need to tackle racist attitudes that prevent women from engaging in a more intersectional kind of feminism. We need to tackle homophobic and transphobic ideas that deem who is given permission to love who they love and be who they are. We need to tackle sexual-moralist ideas that divide women into ‘the virgin’ and ‘the whore’ and create stigma against sex workers, single mothers, and women who have premarital or non-heteronormative sex.

We have a long road ahead, I’m asking us all to march on through tonight towards a better future together.