Monday, January 23, 2017

March and Meaning

The media told us there was a historic event across the country and around the world this past Saturday. Women came out, in extraordinary numbers, to march about….   I’m not sure.

As a strong woman friend, who didn’t attend, said on Facebook, “The whole point of a protest is to educate those who don't know anything about what it is about. I was left completely clueless.”
A confusing poster from the Women's March
found on a friend's Facebook,
original source unknown

I know a few women who participated. Young, educated, successful women. Women who have made their career choices, or are staying home with beautiful children while their husband pursues career goals that support the whole family. That’s anecdotal, I know. I just don’t happen to know any downtrodden, marginalized women who participated. But I assume in crowds that big, there were some.

But I’m confused about their message. Women around the world were protesting the election of a US President they don’t like? When the alternative was a catastrophically bad choice? That seems unlikely.

So, if we broaden out the purpose(s) for this solidarity march, maybe it’s about pushing a progressive (tyrannist), social justice (fascist) agenda that happens to be led by people who identify as female for now.

To anonymously quote one of my Facebook friends who attended in her city:

My earlier post only mentioned it was a reaction to a misogynistic president (which it definitely was), but it also was a pro-immigrant, pro-racial equality, pro-LGBTQIA rights, pro-environment, and pro-healthcare accessibility demonstration as well. Everyone marched for their own reasons, but it did expand beyond just feminism yesterday.
She linked to this Reuters article, which claims the activists were “outraged by Trump's campaign rhetoric and behavior they found to be especially misogynistic.” This is the very next day after the inauguration, and the event was in planning stages for some time, so it is not about either his rhetoric or behavior as president. Their timing, therefore, is a bit off; the campaign is over.

Another clever person made a comparison to NFL football following yesterday’s games:

I refuse to accept the results of the AFC & NFC Championship games. Tomorrow I’ll be protesting, picketing, looting, rioting, and forming support groups. Contact me privately for details.
#NotMySuperBowl     NFLMemes on Facebook
So, there’s the timing problem. Then, it is difficult to believe people are outraged about distasteful, disgusting things the now-president has said or done in the past when they show up costumed as their own genitalia. Signs they carry are some combination of vile, offensive, profane, or just stupid.

Video here, if you care to see; I’d rather not reproduce those images on my blog. But here's a photo of the leftover detritus.
The leftover detritus
photo credit Ben Ferguson

Then there’s the irony related to solidarity.

This Occupy-Wall-Street-sponsored, Planned-Parenthood-funded march attempted to exclude pro-life women.

A piece on Lifesite News, by Kelsey Kurtinitis, two days ahead of the march, starts out, “I am a woman, and yet the Women’s March on Washington does not represent me.” Later in the piece Kurtinitis explains,

According to their mission statement, they aim to “join in diversity” while sending “a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”…
All of these well-intentioned statements might have at least maintained consistency if they had not then immediately violated their very own mission statement.
Yesterday, the Women’s March organization made headlines by removing New Wave Feminists, a pro-life women’s group, as an official event sponsor. The Women’s March released a statement to defend their decision, apologizing for “the error” of having previously listed an “anti-choice” group as a partner. They also made it clear that they only wish to march on behalf of those who share the pro-abortion mindset.
So, women who “choose” life for children are not “woman” enough to qualify for the Women’s March. Hmm. Given pressure, organizers backtracked and decided to grudgingly allow participation from women who believe in giving birth to babies rather than killing them in the womb. For some reason that doesn’t win me over.

There has been some pushback. Some women explain why they didn’t join the march, while others respond with why they were wrong not to join. Some claim the definition of feminism has been hijacked, and others say the definition means anything and everything.

Conservative Review had a piece last September about the failure of modern feminism:

Like most progressive movements, modern feminism purports to laud equality, tolerance, and freedom of expression as its primary goals. The truth, however, is that feminism promotes two unappealing visions of equality, neither of which could be considered “tolerant.”
Some feminists have attempted to reach equality by disarming and devaluing men. For these women, equality demands that the status and intrinsic worth of men be lowered for the sake of female liberation, independence, and “leveling the playing field.” This is the “fight the patriarchy” and “the future is female” group.
An alternative and more radical form of modern feminism asserts that equality demands total transcendence of sexual and all other differences—complete uniformity in role, in pay, and, consequently, in perceived value. This view not only attacks men, but any person whose beliefs or values challenge the progressive feminist agenda. I call this camp the “feminist fascists.”
I have good friends who are willing to use the term feminism, and then define it themselves. They usually mean they want equal pay for equal work—usually unaware that women already have this, because they hear soundbites rather than look at data. [Pew Research points out that nearly all pay differences can be traced to women’s choices.] Sometimes they mean they want women to have the opportunity to pursue whatever work they want to do, as long as they are capable—again, unaware that women are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to go to college [52% since 2010, according to UN statistics], and are more likely to be hired over a man to avoid accusations of sexism.

These sisters mean well. I don’t really have a quarrel with them. But I’ve been around long enough to know how the word has been used for many decades to mean anti-female. Women don’t gain more rights as women by denying their womanhood and acting like uncivilized men.

So I don’t ever describe myself as a feminist. And it never occurred to me to join in this meaningless march.

What did I do instead? I attended a funeral to celebrate the life of a beautiful, energetic, humanity-serving woman I had the privilege to know during the last few of her 78 years. Then I spoke at our local Tea Party meeting, outlining our legislative priorities during the session that just got underway here in Texas. (No one at the meeting talked about the march, or even mentioned the inauguration; we’re on to doing what we need to do next.) Then I went and played some music with friends. And then I went home to share a quiet evening watching a movie with Mr. Spherical Model, because sometimes being a woman living a very full life is  not only enough, it's exhausting.

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