Today, women everywhere are putting the world on notice. (Or rather, that’s what the International Day Without Women is planning for.)
I’ve been vocal lately for the practice of true inclusion in our marches and actions. Today, there was great discussion on a personal Facebook post about how the Women’s March and Day Without Women is truly missing the mark as far as planning and inclusion. My friends were up in arms that I believed we were potentially damaging relationships with individuals that did not feel a part of January’s march.
If we want a TRUE movement, we must have ways for each individual- no matter their background, to participate. And the dialog of, “Just do what you can,” leaves people out. In fact, in a recent Vox article, author Jenée Desmond-Harris shared “’We’re all the same’ has never served women of color.”
With intersectional feminism being considered a hot topic right now, I was surprised the actions of the movement, didn’t match the discussions the movement started.” I’ve been vocal in sharing my path of single motherhood as of late, as my co-parent was unable to continue to be a father for the time being. This leaves me as parent, breadwinner, cook, chauffer, cleaner, Lego brick builder and social media daydreamer… all by myself. With today being a workday, (a Wednesday in fact,) there was no way I could plan to strike. I still have to show up to the job I love, still have to parent, and still have to do everything I normally would. I felt sidelined from the movement and the potential. A few of my friends shared, “I’ll strike for you!” which is a lovely sentiment, but I wondered just how many other individuals that were not being given the opportunity to partake.
I did some research and it turns out… a strike marginalizes a disproportionate amount of women:
· Women who are sole breadwinners
· Women who are caretakers
· Women who cannot simply stop their day-to-day actions in anyway
· Women living paycheck to paycheck
· Women who feel alienated from the movement
I had a controversial Facebook discussion just a few weeks ago with friends as they advocated, “But this is just ONE thing we’re doing to bring attention to our cause. Iceland did it and it was successful!” I didn’t quite have to heart to debate all the ways Iceland seems better than America, (mostly because of Björk, waterfalls and volcanoes, but I digress.) I thought deeply about the fact that most women just can’t strike. It seemed silly, especially with so little preparation and details to go on. How on earth would this movement convince a woman- living penny-to-penny to risk possibly being fired to- not work? Seems pretty privileged- doesn’t it?
“An intersectional feminist approach understands that categories of identity and difference cannot be separated and doesn’t abandon one category of analysis such as gender or sexuality in favor of (over)analyzing others such as race, and class.” — Monica Miller
I believe a revolution serves no one, if it doesn’t include those most affected. And who is most affected by potential policy reversals like the Affordable Care Act? Women of color. In the past few weeks, Rewire published an article by author Nicole Knight that stated, “More than one-third of Latina women and nearly a quarter of Black women lacked health-care coverage before the main provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into effect.”
What are a few ways the Women’s Movement can inspire intersectionality and equity? Here’s my thoughts…
People with Disabilities: Traditionally, marches are not inclusive to those who have disabilities. Not having alternative activities for individuals who are unable to march or participate in that way, leaves them at the sidelines and feeling distant from a movement they may want to participate in. By providing other activities, (phone call marathons, letter writing parties at a location that is appropriate or simply a get-together at another public place,) will not only help our sisters feel included, but it will allow us to reach FURTHER with their important help.
People with English not as a first language: While technology plugins can help for digital content, there is no “plug-in” for in-person activities. We need to be better about dispersing information in other languages, (Somali, Arabic, Spanish, etc.) If someone is fluent in a language, they could volunteer their time in helping to share information in another language so we don’t sideline our sisters who may not speak English.
People who are hearing-impaired or need visual cues: One thing I saw at the women’s march was there were several signing families. I wondered why we didn’t have someone signing or delivering the speeches in a way all could hear. If you can sign, it would be an AWESOME addition to have you at an activity to help sign for those that may need/prefer that method of communication.
People who have small children, or who are caretakers: One thing I so appreciate with a client I work with, is they always offer babysitting or alternative ways to meet/join the action. From livestreaming for someone who has to be at home, to providing childcare or “minutes” after meetings, they think of ways to include individuals who have priorities they can’t leave.
Women of Color: One of my biggest irritations of our current movement is that we assume simply getting a group of women together is the goal. We fail to look around the room and say, “Who have we left out in the planning process?” Are we extending invites to Tribal communities, communities of color and ways for these individuals and their leaders to HAVE A SEAT AND A VOICE? We cannot simply expect individuals of color to show up if we aren’t inclusive. And inclusivenessTRULY, TRULY, matters- it matters because to have a brighter America, we must amplify the voice and activities currently being done by our sisters of color. We cannot whitewash what they are going through. I realize to many, this is seems controversial- but to me, it’s common sense. If we are too busy telling women, “You can come next time,” we fail to realize, there might not be a next time, or we may have already turned them off to the movement. We must do MORE to include communities of color and women of color to have a voice and a seat in the planning process.
I believe in the power of collective voices. We need to ensure our methods of amplification aren’t silencing those that so need a megaphone. Our methods of resistance must not guilt or hurt the very individuals we need to protect.
I’m not striking tomorrow, but I am going to look every woman I see in the eye and say, “I see you. I stand with you.”