Women’s Strike, Women’s March, and Pink Pussy Hats

By Carol Hanisch

 

The blatant sexism of Donald Trump is reinvigorating a moribund feminist movement.

When National Women’s Liberation advertised that its November monthly chapter meeting would be a consciousness-raising and action-planning meeting about the election results, about 500 women showed up in New York. They had to move the meeting several times to ever-larger quarters to accommodate those doing an R.S.V.P. on social media. Even so, a spillover of about 200 women couldn’t get into the hall and had to find a nearby place to meet. Meanwhile, a similar meeting in Gainesville, Florida, drew a standing room only crowd.

“This election was a stunning reminder of how sexism and white supremacy run deep and threaten our basic democracy. NWL commits to build our part of the resistance and stand up for justice,” read its New York call.

 

Women’s Strike

Out of this grew a call for an inaugural weekend Women’s Strike on January 20-21 that was proposed by Jenny Brown, which we wrote about here.

 

The Women’s March

Meanwhile, there’s a Women’s March this weekend in Washington, D.C. with satellite marches in cities and towns across the country. Just how feminist it is or whether it’s even a protest seems to be up for interpretation. Even its organizers seem to be sending mixed messages, including the organizer for a “sister march” in my area who assured in a radio interview that it wasn’t meant to be political. As Megan Murphy wrote in “The Women’s March in Washington Needs to Name the Problem” on Feminist Current:

Since the March was announced, many feminists have wanted to know more: What is the purpose of the March? Is there an agenda? It is called a “Women’s March,” but is it for women only? (No.) Is the March “anti-Trump? (No.) Or even a protest? (Also no.) … [see original article for active links]

But claims that the March is a radical one don’t exactly mesh with the message put forth by organizers.

“It’s an affirmative message to the new administration that ‘women’s rights are human rights,’” Vox reported, adding that “the event is being promoted as a ‘march’ or a ‘rally,’ but emphatically not a ‘protest.’” …

It’s odd to call something a “Women’s March” when it’s not really just for women, but the problems with the event extend far beyond that. Saying a thing is “woman-centered” is one thing, but actually centering women is another. The Women’s March, in their efforts to be “as inclusive as possible” have avoided naming the problem, leaving feminists to wonder how exactly the problem will be addressed, if we can’t even speak it out loud.

The organizers might not want a protest but that is exactly the reason thousands of women are coming to D.C., many for the first time ever participating in a demonstration. They may have unleashed something that will carry a message they can not control.

We strongly recommend you read the whole of Meghan Murphy’s article. 

 

Move Over: The “Fun Feminists” Are Coming

And then, alas, there are those cuddly pink “pussycat hats,” being made for the Women’s March by the thousands and given away or sold, and which serious feminists aren’t supposed to complain about. 

When Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak wrote an article entitled, “The Women’s March needs passion and purpose, not pink pussycat hats” she was roundly criticized. She wrote:

But we can’t make a difference with goofy hats, cheeky signs and silly songs. This is our chance to stand up, to remind the world how powerful we are and demand to be heard. On equal pay and opportunity, on sexual assault, on reproductive rights, on respect. We need to be remembered for our passion and purpose, not our pink pussycat hats.

Women who would at least think twice at dressing their daughters and grand-daughters in pink as a political statement, apparently have no problem wearing it themselves as one. Additionally, the problem with the pussy hats is the same problem we had with the idea of reclaiming the word “slut” during the spate of Slutwalks back in 2012. Some words just cannot be reclaimed!

#  #  #

Did you go to the March? Do you have thoughts about it? You can use the comment section below to add them to the discussion.

3 comments for “Women’s Strike, Women’s March, and Pink Pussy Hats

  1. Kathy Scarbrough
    January 22, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Some great signs and chants at various demos:

    the ubiquitous “this pussy fights back” or “this pussy not up for grabs”

    Grab him in the Putin

    Vaginas make America

    We shall overcomb

    Keep your filthy laws off my silky drawers

    Fight like a Girl

    I could get a better cabinet at IKEA

    tinkle, tinkle, little czar, Putin put you where you are

    chant: We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!

  2. Editors
    January 26, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    A comment from Redstockings:
    “Pussy power” has long been a derisive term used against the calls for “woman power” and “sisterhood is powerful” of the Women’s Liberation uprising of the 1960s that set off the “Second Wave” of feminism. Yet a common tactic of the female liberation movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s was to take derisive terms for women and “turn them into their opposite.” Like “pussy power” in the upcoming march, WITCH, BITCH, and Bluestockings which became “Redstockings” were” turned into their opposite”–becoming proud names of militant women’s liberation groups, organizing cells, magazines–and in the new Millenium the “Slutwalk” march against rape culture.

    So, yes, sisters, let’s throw “pussy” in Donald Trump’s face.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/thousands-are-knitting-puss…

    But, above all, human females need UNION POWER, a growing union that can exercise targeted collective action. If wearing hats that make a statement helps that union grow, that’s great. But the union also has to put our bodies in the gears of the machine–starting with a show of force like the “Women’s strike”. …Go to womenstrike.org to read more.

  3. Carla Lesh
    January 31, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    I attended the march in Washington, DC wearing my Black Lives Matter shirt. Not a pink hat. A woman of color about my (middle) age passed me in the hall of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and said with increasing emphasis “I like your shirt. I like your shirt.” As a sign of solidarity, the sea of pink hats at the rally, on the march, on the Metro and at the travel plazas on the drive back north, was invigorating — a different, more empowering symbol for the marches would be preferable. If the pink hats are a way for formerly complacent women to become involved and contact their elected officials and make their voices heard, that’s something. I find the postcard and letter writing gatherings following the marches that are bringing women together encouraging. Here’s to the nice white ladies expanding their political world views.

    A favorite chant from the march – “This is what democracy looks like.” and “Welcome to your first day, we’re not going to go away.”

Leave a Reply