To wonder women
Letter to the Editor | Thursday, February 1, 2018
Rooted in my uniquely personal conviction that everything on the internet is true, Google shares that “a movement is a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social or artistic ideas.” I’ve been thinking about what this means in light of several movements that have recently taken place in our nation’s capital.
It is my understanding that the Women’s March pursues total equality for women among men, leveling the scales of power that have been weighted down on the man’s side since antiquity. This imbalance is witnessed by the countless women who have been taken advantage of, overlooked, harassed, shamed and fundamentally disrespected by powerful men. Women have suffered, and the Women’s March seems to be actively engaged in recovering the power for women that they have always deserved. As a young woman, I can’t help but enthusiastically support this goal.
With such exciting convictions in mind, I envision myself taking an eager step towards a crowd of women, and some men, marching together. I’m ready to exclaim, “Me too! Her too! Let me help! Let me march!” I’m prepared to fall in stride with the colorful crowd and find myself handed a sign that has a distorted picture of the President’s face and a crass comment about his quality of leadership. To my right, I behold some uplifting Bible verses and a girl in a Wonder Woman costume whose sign reads, “I will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.” To my left, my smiling partner carries, “This p—- grabs back.” And I would hesitate.
What kind of woman is this march celebrating? Is it she who wants power over others or power for herself and others? Do we pose this mission in light of women’s strengths? Or in light of men’s failures?
For it seems to me that as the scales of power are weighed down by men on one side, women on the other are lifted high. And by this observation, I say, “Up with men!” I write my sign: “Rise up, Man!”
Rise up, and acknowledge the incredible gift that is a woman. You’re mistaken to think you are good enough alone. You’ve slandered her. Raped her. Tossed her in the slimy mud. You’ve failed.
Of course, women wouldn’t be marching for women if we didn’t think we had a grasp of something that the men are missing.
And because I believe this, I question whether I am the right woman for the Women’s March. I question whether condemning the patriarchy is the way to grant the alienated their deserved rights. Do we “maintain hope for a brighter morning,” as Oprah proclaimed at the Golden Globes, or would we rather create a starless night for those who have screwed us over?
If demolishing men is the way to build women up, then it seems our castle will stand lopsided on a foundation of broken pieces.
At the Women’s March in Rome, Asia Argento stated that, “They are the men in power, and they are the ones who will be eradicated.” I think it is regrettable that I must deface someone else to celebrate the natural abilities that I already own. Indeed, racism and profanity do not make America great. Still, is calling men bigots our best example of love trumping hate?
If women had been in power for far too long, and a man made these statements against the matriarchy, I’d think he was in danger of becoming the very tyranny his marginalized gender opposed.
If the ideals of any movement are shared and worked towards with equal vigor among its members, am I expected to be as ready as the next girl to call names of leadership for the sake of women? For my own sake? Essentially, I find it belittling, rather than empowering, to raise high a plush set of ovaries, to remind myself and others that I have a reproductive system, invisible from my exterior.
If the Women’s March “aims to convert the groundswell of momentum and activism into direct electoral power,” I wonder, what is the end to which our activism leads? If our tactic is fear, when does that fear-inciting stop? If our strategy is defiance, what can grow from it but defiance? Are we merciful when we in the movement are the only ones left to be merciful? Does profanity command respect? The Women’s March is a powerful movement with important goals. Yet, the mixed messages –– the young Wonder Woman standing next to the ovaries, the “Stay Angry” sign, the Bible verses, the President Trump sign –– bring these questions to light.
Indeed, no movement is perfect. G.K. Chesterton highlights a fault of the pro-life movement in his “Heretics,” noting that they fail in “their effort to create a thrill.” Alas, we are people “engaged in the task, so obviously ultimately hopeless, of using science to promote morality.”
Even so, I chose to go on the March for Life this year because it is a stronger movement than the Women’s March. All movements aim at speaking truth to power and to giving a voice to the voiceless. Yet, how can we fully, honestly do so if we don’t speak the whole truth? If we don’t give voices to every silenced individual? At the March for Life, we march for all victimized and suffering people. The pro-life movement is led by an explicit set of ideals which lead to authentic progress. Life is the timeline from the moment of conception to that of natural death. A woman is a woman, even when she has just started growing in the womb. She — in her inherent worth and beauty, for her entire life — is to be fought for. All people — women, men, young and old — deserve that protection. Young Wonder Woman, you say you will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, but the pro-life movement is fighting for them now.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.