Wo/Men United in the Fight

Recently we discussed on me+r how and whether the political opinion of an the actor divides, unites, enhances or detracts from fandom. It fills me with much joy that I can write a post today that does not need the always slightly pejorative inclusion of the two little letters “OT” in front of the post title. This was an occasion I wanted to comment on via the platform where I have the widest reach – here. But since this is a blog exclusively devoted to Armitage, I usually curtail my excursions off-topic. How wonderful that Armitage himself has turned the occasion into an “on-topic”.

 

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I had been wondering whether RA was going to add his voice to this particular event. I had no doubt that he would be following the Women’s Marches in some shape or form, but with a month-long retreat from social media, I wasn’t sure whether he would comment publicly. He seems to enjoy (and need?) the silence. The fact that he has chosen this occasion to break his silence with, really pleases me. No doubt, he takes an interest in US and world politics, and – pretty typical for a member of the artistic community in a wider sense – he seems to subscribe to a liberal, slightly left-leaning world-view. But it is nice to see him openly support a cause that tangibly shapes the world of the majority of his fans, women. That’s not to mean I want him to pander to his audience. I take his expression of opinion at face value.

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Yesterday was an event that has shown that politics are not isolated to a particular country (the US) but transcend borders and unite across differences of nationality, ethnic origin, language, age, sexual preference – even gender. The latter is particularly important, because the Women’s Marches had a particular gender right there in the moniker chosen for them. I can’t say how happy it has made me to have seen so many men on the marches, everywhere in the world, but also on the Dublin Women’s March. My son was one of them, and he followed the call with no hesitation.

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Many commentators talked about being proud to be standing up for women’s rights. Pride is not something that I would personally associate with going on this march yesterday – with pride meaning a sense of satisfaction at one’s own achievements. I don’t really think that it is particularly hard (as a citizen of a Western democracy with all the liberties and rights that affords) to make the decision to go on a march that demands respect and the right of self-determination, and thus derive a feeling of satisfaction from joining a protest. These are basic human rights – it should be a matter of course to march for those rights. And while we have made a mark, we have not achieved it yet. I did not feel pride, I felt joy at being part of this international celebration of the power of women. It was a truly powerful feeling watching the footage from Women’s Marches all over the world, knowing that we were all united in the fight for human rights, no matter our ages, religions, nationalities, wealth, ideologies, languages, gender.

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The question is now – where do we go from here? My hope is that the marches are a start to more political activism from all supporters. Questioning our representatives. Resisting fascism, war-mongering and segregation. Or at least taking courage from what happened on January 21, 2017 and realising that a world where wo/men unite across divisions, we can live without fear and overcome differences. War mongerers, fascists, populists of the world hark up: You shall not pass.

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96 thoughts on “Wo/Men United in the Fight

  1. I acknowledge that your viewpoint is different from mine, as I don’t live in a Clinton-majority state or Dublin, but choosing to protest was hard for a lot of people. It had consequences; it wasn’t just a sea of positive feeling, anyway, even if the statements from people who were there were euphoric. Huge mass protests have been very rare in the U.S. since the 1970s and the general social consensus outside of a few places is that protests are stupid, pointless, and wrong (Constitutional rights notwithstanding). Just because there are no legal barriers to protest doesn’t mean it’s simple to do it. The nearest organized protest to us was 110 mi away, just for starters. Here in town one person demonstrated spontaneously (no event was organized here); there was an article about her in the paper; and the comments I’ve seen are vicious and it’s worse because some of the people who are making them were my schoolmates. One of them is the person I sat next to in band for three years and played clarinet duets with in the state music competitions.

    For anyone who doesn’t come from an urban liberal enclave, the personal costs were potentially high and the financial costs were potentially higher — not everyone could afford the journey or the opportunity cost. (I calculated the minimum cost for a low level going-wage worker like a barista, going to the nearest organized protest in the state capital, assuming only travel costs on public transportation — no food, drinks, miscellaneous — would have been $58 bus fare plus $72 gross wages. If you had a car you could probably do it for $18 gas, but that excludes insurance, cost for use of car, etc. And you’d still have to give your employer a reason when requesting off for the day — itself potentially a formidable step.) On the personal level, I’m watching the battles being fought out on my FB right now, with parents and children slogging it out, relatives holding parents responsible for the choices of the children that the parents wouldn’t have made, and plenty of extremely cruel language being hurled in every direction. Perhaps all of Europe would have voted against Trump but that’s not true here. Almost half the country voted for him and they are our loved ones. It can be extremely hard for a political novice to stare down her conservative relatives even if she is not staring down a rifleman or facing jail (although that would have been a concrete risk, and there was talk in the days before the protest that pro-Trump agents provocateurs would lead a counter-protest or just go and heckle the protestors until they exploded — although thankfully that didn’t materialize this time, I would count on it being a feature of such protests in future). So I am proud of those who made the choice to demonstrate because they did sacrifice, the verbal abuse they are taking now is significant, and because the fight is far from over and they (and all of us who are resisting, even those who didn’t march) will have to make that same choice every day for the next four years.

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    • I understand your sentiments and take your points about people outside of urban centres not being able to go (physically) on the marches. I am conscious of the fact that other people were too far away from an organised march to attend – and living far away or having other commitments on the day are certainly valid reasons to stay away. Or difference of opinion, or even fear of conflict in case of showing one’s true convictions. However, I still genuinely cannot understand how one can be *proud* (meaning “feeling a sense of satisfaction from one’s own achievements”) of *others* attending the march? Or those who *did* attend, feeling that it is an achievement just to be present? The marches were a start, and I applaud anyone who marched or who supported the marches in other ways (by posting/tweeting/discussing etc.) but I think it is too early to congratulate ourselves on achievements. The fight is only just beginning.

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      • I was unable to demonstrate (there were two reasons, one more serious than the other). I have a former undergraduate student who started university a political conservative and over years, cautiously transformed herself into a feminist. After wringing her hands about this for weeks and what it would mean, she decided to go, which involved a big sacrifice for her and two days of bus riding. I saw her euphoric pictures of her experience in Washington. Then I watched her mother and her aunts shred her to pieces for that choice in the comment strand in the pictures and I saw her stand up to them.

        For her, it was an achievement just to be present. I get it that you might not sympathize with that if you have been demonstrating your whole life, but for someone from her community, with her history, it was a quantum leap. It was something she decided about, planned, achieved, and defended. I am genuinely proud of her, whether you agree that is an appropriate feeling for me to have or not.

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        • Sounds to me as if we are working from two different definitions of pride here? Of course it must have been a massive personal step for your student to take a visible stand, against the politics of her family, her community, her friends. That is an amazing achievement for her – and the cause that mobilised her.
          Sorry if you have felt I was making a judgment about your feelings for her or anyone else’s participation at the marches. Your feelings are none of my business.

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            • Fair enough.
              As the blog owner, I want a last word, though: We have come to this discussion from two different angles. For me, this was about semantics. I have a problem with the term “pride”, nothing else. But I acknowledge that my wording in that paragraph may have sounded condescending or prescriptive. That was not the point or intention of the post. If anything, I want to get the point across, that the marches were inclusive, encouraging, inspiring, great – and that we now need to continue to the fight after we have made an impressive start.

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              • I think your definition of pride is weird (most people, for instance, are proud of their children), but that’s not really what’s at issue here. You saw the protests as inclusive. Many people did not.

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                • I do not think there is any logic in being proud of my children, to stay with your example – apart from the fact that I can be proud for having created them. But otherwise, their achievements are *their* achievements, not *mine*, *they* have worked hard to be accomplished guitarists or original painters, so I don’t think I can claim those achievements for myself. But as I said – semantics and definitions. This is my definition of pride, and whether you agree with it or not, it will remain my definition of pride.

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                    • Sure. (and you can be proud of whatever you like). I’m starting to be proud of a few of the things I’ve written, too. But I wasn’t born knowing English or how to read or write or what good taste in writing is. I didn’t give myself the formative experiences that influence my writing; that all relates to someone else’s choices. Someone else decided that I should take English composition in college and with whom. I didn’t invent word processing, which is really important to me as a writer, or the blog format, which has been even more crucial insofar as it made developing an audience palatable. I used to joke that I should acknowledge the Kit Kat bar as an important contributor to the completion of my dissertation; I didn’t invent that either. All of the stuff that makes me able to write has much more to do with other people than it has to do with me and without any of those things I wouldn’t write.

                      In short, it’s not like I can claim 100 percent credit for anything I’ve done on Earth. If we had to filter out anything that wasn’t our sole achievement, no one would feel satisfaction about anything they’ve done.

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                  • Sorry, I put that badly. But if you have no role in how your children developed, I don’t see how you play much role in your own development, either. It’s not like any of us are simply born fully formed from the womb.

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                    • If it’s an achievement to bear someone (I don’t per se disagree), why isn’t it an achievement to stick with them for 18 years? They’d die without you for the first several years at least.

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                    • I didn’t say it wasn’t an achievement to stay with them for 18 years. I am saying that it is not my achievement that they are working hard to become independent adults.

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                    • If that’s true, we are wasting an awful lot of money on subsidizing parents and schools, since they apparently pay no role in the achievements of young people.

                      Honestly, though, apart from surviving childbirth itself (which is non-negligible), I think it’s a much greater achievement to stick with a child for eighteen years than it is to procreate.

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                    • So you think that I should claim my son’s prowess on the guitar as *my* success and as the state’s because they paid me child benefit and thus financed his guitar lessons? To me, that is belittling the achievements of my son.

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                    • No, I think you can be proud of your son’s success as you contributed to it. It doesn’t take anything away from his success that you feel pride in it.

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                    • Ah, ok. Makes sense in this example. Or in the example of your student on whose political development you had an influence because you educated her.

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  2. Didn’t get into unite or not fandom due to lack of time but also purpose. Fandom does not have influence on my political opinions and the 2 are not much related either. My politics or opinions existed way before that simply by education, experience etc like i believe is the case for most people. Don’t think i could approach or be interested in an artist so have any connection with fandom if openly stated political opinions were of the kind i couldn’t live with. I don’t need fandom to have any political views or the artist for that matter. Don’t know really but i suspect depending on experience, circumstances etc politics are just part of our social lives or not. Current events are probably more disturbing if not used to politics and conflicts. To me even unions, workers rights, pay etc are political matters so it all concerns us all. It spreads across a lot more territory of daily life than any fandom ever will. But people have different experiences. London was massive, i spent some time in Trafalgar 😊 it was refreshing to see women speak up and speak out. And i believe women can move the world much more fundamentally when they get together. The size of the event was of significance otherwise it’s true here people protest on many issues and so they should but it is easy where democracy protects you. As to ra I’m glad he took part and that he felt he wanted to. Personally it meant more here locally to have MPs stand up and the mayor because they can use the voice given and be messengers to our voices. But every voice does count. It’s just that some can raise their higher or can be good messengers for the many. It’s good to remind people they are not powerless and those in power that society means people and people won’t just roll over. It’s all down to education… we need to teach children that they are not only entitled to rights but those rights need to be protected and fought for. Education is the only long term hope and effective tool we have.

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    • You are certainly right that politicians taking part and raising their voices, has more effects than an entertainment professional supporting a cause. But well, sometimes it takes someone with a platform or a popular reach, to spread a message – it’s great when one can agree with that message, I guess. I don’t look to RA for my politics, either (he won’t meet my requirements in that respect, anyway, I know that.); it’s just nice when it overlaps for once…
      And yes, that’s why I like protests like the marches – it just is a direct form of political expression, and I do think it’s important to create the opportunity for non-institutional political expression.

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  3. “It’s good to remind people that they are not powerless.” -Hariclea. These marches gave me hope. And I am proud of those who made personal sacrifices to march. I have a couple of friends who got on a bus to Washington in the middle of the night, went to the march, and came back the next night. In my opinion, they risked their lives because crowds of that density can be extremely dangerous if there is a stampede. I don’t know whether my friends are congratulating themselves on their achievement, but I certainly am congratulating them on being part of a historic protest–hopefully the start of much more. Gloria Steinem said, “it’s not enough to hit the send button,” and she’s right. As to RA and other celebrities, I don’t think they make a huge difference in politics, yet they have a platform others don’t. When it comes to fandom, I don’t require that the Object of My Affection share my every view, but if I discovered that his opinions were wildly different, it would destroy my interest as a fan–though not necessarily my appreciation for his artistry. My Guy is keeping mum, but then he’s not on social media. For that, I am actually thankful…
    And thanks for the great Dublin pix! What excited me most about this was seeing women all over the world taking action in unison.

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    • I agree with you re. sharing of political opinion with OOA. There are very few people with a different political opinion to mine, whom I can tolerate (and who can tolerate me) – it only works because we avoid the topic with each other. Not ideal, because politics seep into everything we do.
      Totally with you on congratulating anyone who has been active (whether at home or on a march) in spreading the message. It was great to see women at the forefront of this – doesn’t happen all that often; most of the time protests are dominated by men.

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  4. Yes, I am with you that I hope this is the beginning of more action to come. And not just from women but from everyone. I’d love for such a huge crowd to rise against xenophobia. Here in NL, for instance, I feel xenophobia is a much bigger issue than the loss of women’s rights.

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  5. Oh, and I’m not saying women’s rights aren’t important, btw! They are vital! I am just saying that they aren’t under threat here in the same way that they feel to be in the USA of Donald Trump.

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    • Yup – I think there are massive differences between various countries, even within Europe. Women’s rights are a massive issue in Ireland, for instance, where we are still fighting for women’s right of self-determination when it comes to abortion, for instance. I think that is one of the reasons why this march appealed to so many women in Ireland – more than the xenophobia issue, for instance.

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  6. Ich hab jetzt lange überlegt, ob ich hierzu was sage oder nicht … Tja, offensichtlich sage ich was.

    Schön, dass es dir ein gutes Gefühl gegeben hat, Guylty.

    Besser wäre allerdings, wenn diese Proteste für irgendwas stünden, das denjenigen helfen könnte, die Trump gewählt habe (oder für den Brexit gestimmt, oder in D der AfD zulaufen …), weil sie von den bisherigen Machthabern immer nur gehört haben, wie gut es allen geht, während sie sich fragten, wovon sie die Miete bezahlen sollen, weil von dem “allen geht’s gut” nichts bei ihnen ankam.

    Bin gespannt, wie das in D ausgehen wird. Wir haben meiner Meinung nach auch nur die Wahl zwischen Pest, Cholera und diversen anderen Ekligkeiten. 😦

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    • Hm, ich verstehe deinen Kommentar gerade nicht so ganz. Diese Demos waren doch gegen Trump gerichtet – inwiefern sollten sie dann für etwas stehen, was den Trump-Unterstützern hilft? Schließt sich das nicht aus? Ich habe die Proteste so verstanden, dass diejenigen, die sich von Trumps Politik bedroht fühlen, protestieren und signalisieren, dass sie nicht einverstanden sind mit seiner Politik.

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      • This is one of the huge problems generated by the media coverage — which understood it and decided to cast it as a purely anti-Trump measure. There’s nothing about opposing Trump in the vision statement for the march; only about opposing particular political measures and furthering others that have effects on women’s lives — some of these were objecting to things Trump has proposed but others (immigration) were opposed to both the Trump and Obama / Clinton programs. That’s why it was hoped it would attract some protestors who might have voted for Trump, because it was supposed to be about women’s issues.

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      • Glaubst du, die ganzen Trump-Wähler sind Leute, die ihn für besonders toll halten? Für einen begnadeten Politiker?
        Jeder, der mehr als zwei Gehirnzellen hat und wenigstens ab und zu die News verfolgte, *musste* mitbekommen, was für ein Typ das ist, welche Hass- und Macho-Sprüche er im Wahlkampf absonderte, wie viele Lügen und Widersprüche man ihm nachwies etc.

        Nein, ich bin fest davon überzeugt, dass ein großer Teil nur deshalb ihn gewählt hat, weil die Menschen sich von seinen Vorgängern bestensfalls verlassen, wahrscheinlicher sogar belogen und betrogen gefühlt haben.

        Trumps Wahlsieg – wie auch Brexit, der Zulauf zur AfD, der Anstieg überhaupt bei den rechten Parteien in Europa -, das ist alles meiner Meinung nach zum Großteil die Quittung dafür, dass “die Politik” seit Jahren und Jahrzehnten die privilegierten Reichen bedient hat, während für die Mindestlöhner, den einfachen Arbeiter, die Arbeitslosen, die Alleinerziehenden, die kaum über die Runden kommen, die Lage bis zum Geht-nicht-Mehr verschlechtert.

        Das ist einfach ein “Es muss sich was tun!”, und diese Leute und Parteien und Veränderungen versprechen, dass sich was bessert, dass sie sich für “den kleinen Mann” einsetzen.

        Kurz: Die Leute haben die Alternative gewählt, weil die andere Seite jahre- und jahrzehntelang versagt oder ihre Bedürfnisse und Sorgen ignoriert hat.

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        • Ich habe keine Ahnung, warum irgendjemand Trump gewählt hat. Allerdings habe ich persönlich für Protestwähler egal welcher Couleur auch nur sehr wenig Verständnis.
          Und ich verstehe immer noch nicht, was du willst? Dass die Demonstranten ein alternatives Wahlprogramm vorlegen? Wofür? Sie standen ja schließlich nicht zur Wahl. Das war eine Demo, keine Wahlveranstaltung.

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          • Keine Protestwähler. Nur Leute, die die Aussagen gehört haben, die ihnen das versprachen, was andere nicht geliefert haben.

            *seufz* Keine Ahnung, was ich will. Vielleicht nur Frust loswerden, weil ich die ganze Entwicklung so besch….eiden finde, und daran wird ein Protestmarsch mit eher allgemein gehaltenen Forderungen nichts ändern.

            Schön, dass für ein paar Stunden Solidarität in einer Aktion gezeigt wurde, aber ich nehme an, dass es das auch schon war und nicht mehr viel folgen wird.

            Sorry.
            Und ich wäre froh, wenn mir jemand beweist, dass mein Pessimismus ungerechtfertigt ist.

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            • Ich finde es sehr schwierig, deiner Meinung etwas entgegenzusetzen. Ich glaube nicht, dass ich dich davon überzeugen kann, dass Demos etwas ändern, weil sie das Bewusstsein einer Gruppe von Leuten beeinflussen. Das ist dir wahrscheinlich nicht handfest genug. Mir reicht das als ein erster Schritt, weil ich nicht glaube, dass man sich mit Wahlergebnissen klaglos abfinden muss, nur weil sie demokratisch zustande gekommen sind. Man muss sie zwar akzeptieren, aber man kann trotzdem etwas entgegensetzen. Mir ist der Ansatz, eine Demo wirkungslos zu finden, einfach zu defätistisch. Aber das ist Persönlichkeitssache und nichts, was ich mit Argumenten entkräften könnte. Immerhin sind wir in der Hoffnung vereint, dass es schön wäre, wenn sich was ändern würde.

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              • I don’t know German, so I’m only replying to the English comments above, because I can’t read what was written in German. This “march” was totally anti-Trump and everything he purportedly stands for. Regardless of any original plans or intents, it turned out to be a worldwide shout of disapproval of the incoming U.S. administration. Forget the “media coverage.” Read the signs in the photos: disapproval on every subject from sanctioned pussy grabbing to climate change—from scientists at the South Pole. The South Pole!!! I think its “meaning” will turn out to be whatever anyone manages to actually get done in the next few years, and I just hope this outpouring of energy doesn’t dissipate away into the usual apathy.

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                    • I would never claim it’s a huge group. But as the pressure from people who think the marches were ______ [stupid, wrong, pointless, dangerous] is growing, “why I marched” statements are starting to come out. I’ve probably seen about a dozen comments on about three platforms from Trump voters who marched. I don’t find it surprising; people’s political choices are complicated. I just am really troubled by the spread of the message that this was all supposed to be about anti-Trump. First of all, that wasn’t what the organizers had in mind, but secondly, if this political program becomes about opposing him and not about the political program itself, it won’t last long because it won’t attract any proponents who don’t already agree. The idea is supposed to be that these are ideas that all women could / should care about. If this becomes just about opposing Trump, we’re sunk. We tried that in the election. Didn’t really work and voters lost the message that the Dem platform was about anything else.

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                • I agree with you – people marched for different reasons and causes. Women’s rights, human rights, reproductive rights, peace, equality – and a lot of anti-Trump anger, too – and there is nothing wrong with marching with one of those agendas in mind, as they are all related to our existence as women. The fact that it occurred the day after the inauguration of Trump, probably put that anti-Trump slant on it, as did the fact that the principles mentioned in Servetus’ link are all issues that are very clearly under threat from the Trump administration (as can be seen in the immediate removal of a lot of those issues from the WH website after the take-over). Or that’s what it looked like for me, who only witnessed the marches from outside the US. On the Irish march, the protest issue was women’s rights as they are under threat from the Trump administration. Trump was mentioned in speeches and posters on the march.
                  Good point about the meaning – I suppose it is up to the activists to take something from the marches and build on it. The organisers of the march seemed very aware that it is not enough to march and protest, but that actions have to follow. I really like how the American organisers have immediately followed up with their 10 Actions / 100 Days initiative https://www.womensmarch.com/100. I have actually just signed up for their updates.

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            • When I think about the last time something significant changed in the US where demonstrations played a large role, it was during the Civil Rights Movement (leading to the enforcement of various Supreme Court decisions, sometimes by federal troops, and the institution of the Voting Rights Act and the related non-discrimination legislation in the mid-1960s).

              About that I can say:

              1) the protests had to go on for years, or rather, more than a decade
              2) they were incredibly controversial (and still are), even among black people (although less so than among whites)
              3) they were undertaken at great personal risk to the lives, health, and well being of the protestors
              4) they generally had the support of the national media and there were only three broadcast networks at the time, not the niche news system that we have today where no one has been trained in journalism or reporting and everyone gets their news from the provider they prefer
              5) they were successful not because they created change on their own (black people go into the streets and everyone says, oh, yeah, silly us, let’s desegregate!) but because they created enough social and economic cost that it was easier for the establishment to change than to continue experiencing the constant protest.

              In short, I conclude that for a protest to really change anything in the setting of the US, there has to be something at stake that could cause real harm if it is not changed and there has to be at least a majority consensus that this is the case. I don’t think (despite how awful 2016 was) we are anywhere near that point yet.

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              • You could add: 6) they were planned for years, sometimes decades, before going into action—especially the lawsuits, searching for the right action in the right jurisdiction with the right plaintiff. Read Thurgood Marshall’s history with Brown v. Board of Education.

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                • Thanks, I’m pretty familiar with the history of this particular period of the US as I had to TA it several times in graduate school. However, I wasn’t specifically talking about lawsuits, but the likelihood that a protest would influence a political change.

                  It would be interesting to know how the Germans see the influence of the Monday protests on the eventual end of the GDR.

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                  • I have not researched this, so you could possibly correct me, but I always thought the Monday demonstrations were seen as catalysts for the eventual change? Peaceful protests that expressed the demands of the people for a reform of the political system on the basis of democratic elections and the end of totalitarianism?

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                    • I’ve only read very little about them although I think they’re really interesting. I think they were effective in that sense and also in the sense that they demonstrated that something had changed in the leadership of the late GDR even from over against the 1970s and certainly from the 1950s, i.e., people in various shades of opposition were going to be able to demonstrate openly without the police putting them down and/or firing on them. On the other hand, if I recall correctly, there have been revelations about how heavily those demonstrations and the church groups that sponsored them had been infiltrated by IMs / Stasi (which may explain why the state was so calm — they were trying to eliminate “problems” covertly, person by person, perhaps because they had realized that open violence against GDR citizens was no longer “salonfähig”).

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                    • Very interesting read and discussion!
                      I was impressed by the sheer mass of women and men attending the Women’s Marches across the US. I’m not quite sure about the impact of these demonstrations, especially with its counterparts outside the US. I took them as a sign of solidarity with the anti-Trump-fraction, no more, no less. Sadly, Trump was legally elected and the only hope I have is that Europe will gather its own strength in the future and will seek for new alliances. Maybe this election result with this unpredictable president was the initial spark. For the US citizens, I dearly hope that some of his advisors and secretaries are a bit more reasonable and don’t skip all of the connections and contracts of the past.
                      As for the outcome of the Monday demonstrations in 1989 in the GDR, they were a jigsaw piece among many others but sent out a strong signal towards international media, which couldn’t be made unseen. The difference between these marches and the Women’s March of today was the actual danger for the participants and the anger and discontent which grew in years and decades to culminate finally in the Citizen’s Movement starting in Leipzig.
                      The question which remains for me is why so many people voted for Trump and why there is such a deep gap between different groups in the US. This phenomenon exists to some extent in Germany, France, the Netherlands, the UK, too and an interesting attempt of an explanation is to read here:

                      http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/anne-applebaum-interview-about-president-donald-trump-a-1130988.html

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                    • That is what I think too, Camassia – a protest can galvanise the participants, or even those who only saw the protest from a distance, into action. It may be the first in a row of protests. Or the initial protest from which other actions come. That is my hope, too – and more in terms of general international solidarity on women’s rights than a specific anti-Trump agenda. While Trump affects the world even outside his own realm of influence, I don’t really think that I can do much about Trump as a non-American. He has been democratically elected, and that has to be respected. But it is good to see that the public is looking very closely at what their new president is doing – and calling him out.
                      Interesting point about the Monday demos being a signal for the international community.

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              • That sounds rather depressing – in the sense that it will take years for change to happen. OTOH it sounds rather good. Because *some* change *did* happen. I don’t think anyone is foolish enough to think that one protest makes all the problems go away. It’s a long road – as your example shows.

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        • It wasn’t entirely clear what the GOP was promising low wage workers in this election, but I do think there was a big identification with the idea of “something has to change.” However, the median annual income of the average Trump voter was $72k, so it wasn’t just poor people, many of whom don’t have a clear picture of what is actually happening in the U.S or even in their own communities. There’s an interesting article about this that encapsulates a lot of the recent research on this topic in a vignette: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/donald-trump-2016-election-oklahoma-working-class

          The four people I spend the most time with these days in person all voted for Trump.

          1) my father’s girlfriend, because she is a pure-t unreconstructed racist in the 1950s sense. She wants blacks “put back in their place” and believed the law and order message. She also admired Trump personally. She’s the only person I know who had the latter sentiment.
          2) my father, who will always vote GOP, probably out of a sentiment that the Democrats just give things to people and no one should ever be given anything they didn’t earn (this is a common sentiment in the rural portions of this state; a book was recently written about it). He doesn’t like Trump.
          3) my brother, who is opposed to the ACA. I don’t know how he felt about Trump.
          4) my sister-in-law, who wants an effective immigration reform for reasons that have to do with her work situation that I won’t get into. She despises Trump.

          None of them are poor or, as far as I can tell, all that badly abused by the economy.

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          • Those are interesting insights, Serv, thanks for sharing. I can understand why they would vote conservative, I still struggle that they are prepared to incidentally thus vote for Trump. My knowledge of US politics is limited, but I do realise that the presidential election was a choice between pestilence and cholera. However, I suspect I will find myself in a similar position this year with the German general election. For the first time ever in my life (and hopefully the last), I feel that I have no other choice but will have to vote Merkel although I despise conservative politics. Maybe I will understand then.

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            • I participated in a minor way in the Wisconsin vote recount. This was a really tense and upsetting experience that I also won’t get into here. But in the end, the problem in Wisconsin, where there were 22,000 votes difference (approximately) between the GOP and the Dems wasn’t really (as far as I could tell, non-existent) vote rigging for Trump. It was the 31,000 people who voted for the Green Party candidate (and maybe some of the 105,000 who voted for the libertarian party). This is more or less the same circumstance as in Florida in 2000, where it wasn’t the 500 votes difference between Bush and Gore that really counted in the end — but the 70,000 votes for Ralph Nader.

              Decisionmaking about how to vote is significantly more complicated in the German setting. I wish you luck.

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              • What you describe about the votes going to “minor” candidates (who have no chance of winning, thus the votes counted for them feeling “wasted” – sorry, totally unfair generalisation which I don’t believe in, but you get my drift ) is exactly what will motivate me to vote CDU this year. I have to say I wish Germany had the single, transferable vote system (like Ireland does). It would make “wasted votes” a thing of the past… But well, impossible in a country of 60 million voters…

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                • I think the German system makes a lot of sense, providing that one believes that it is probable a governing coalition will emerge that is not harmful to the country (I’m really suspicious of “grand coalitions” from this perspective, but they are better than nothing). We don’t really have that belief in the US; in that sense the coalitions are supposed to be formed at the pre-campaign, party level, i.e., the Dems are already supposed to be a liberal coalition (a process which quite obviously fell apart on both sides this year), and there’s no sense that the competing parties are obligated to cooperate in governing, although they mostly did until 2008.

                  One thing that really interested me was the emergence after 1989 of the “we will never coalition with _______” (insert current name for the GDR Communist party successor organization). If parties make a similar statement on the right (“we will never coalition with AfD or similar”), what happens? I’m not saying that those coalitions should occur, just that their (rhetorical? real?) impossibility creates another precarious system.

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                    • Hehe, I admit it would be interesting to see how women fare in the top positions of power in this world. Not sure if there would be a notable change. Nonetheless, I would really like to see more representation of women in politics, both on the domestic, and on the international stage.
                      I am totally divided about Angela Merkel myself. Don’t like her conservative party one bit, by and large don’t like her policies. But she a) showed remarkable resilience in standing up for the ‘right thing’ in terms of a humanitarian reaction to the refugee crisis and b) seems to be the only provider of stability in Europe which is currently undergoing a massive swing to the right.

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                  • Coalitions make a lot of sense, indeed. I think there is something very healthy in a system that has a number of parties forced into constant negotiation. Although that is possible without a coalition but through a strong opposition, too.
                    Sadly, coalitions with the far right have not been categorically refused in the same way as with the “stalinists”. Even last year, the CDU was discussing coalition with AfD. (eeek, I need to rethink my priorities for the general election…)

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  7. Geez, you two could teach Bill Clinton a few things about parsing words!

    I felt joy at Saturday’s marches, too, Guylty, especially at the world-wide solidarity, which was stunning. But I also think I understand your hesitation about using the word “pride.”

    It’s not enough to stand around in the street wearing a pink hat waving a home-made sign with a clever quip on it. What now?

    Being an active citizen in a democracy requires effort to be informed and involved, to tell our legislators what we want in those bills they write, and to vote, knowledgeably, in every election, including primaries. (My example follows the American system, I don’t know how others work.)

    If everybody added just one task to whatever they are already doing, imagine what we could accomplish! Why, on Saturday, we outperformed an American presidential inauguration in numbers and voice. Peacefully. Not a single person arrested.

    Watch out, world. We are on the move.

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      • So we need more white people at protests to “protect” non-white people from police? I’ve been casting around for my perfect add-on civics task, and you may have inadvertently proposed it: stand in the street, wear a pink hat, be white. I can do that!

        Are there any fangirls out there who know how to knit? May I commission a pink hat with cat ears—and an RA symbol on it somewhere inconspicuous, so I can enjoy the extra boost of believing he’s with me in spirit as I freeze my ass off and pine for a toilet?

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        • I’d suggest finding a black woman activist and asking her what you can do to help — they have been in this for years, they know best what help they need.

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      • Interesting point – although I am not sure whether the “white girlz” can be held responsible for the way they are being treated. Isn’t that an accusation to be levelled at the police rather than the white participants? I suspect many of the white participants of the marches were/are aware of the preferential treatment given to them. Question is – does that mean white women protests are worth less because their protest is a cushy, easy one? Does it devalue the protests made by white women even though they can’t help that that is the way the police are treating them? Harking right back to the suffragettes. (I have a family example right here – my husband’s great-grandmother was an Irish suffragette – and a member of the privileged, bourgeois, Protestant middle class. The story goes that she attempted to protest for women’s rights by smashing a window of the Dublin Custom House right in front of a policeman, in an effort to be arrested and thus get a platform for her cause in court. The policeman chose to ignore her at first – because she was visibly a privileged woman member of the middle class and thus too much trouble for him as she would be exonerated anyway? – and she forced him to arrest her… This occurred on the 30th of January 1913. She was sentenced to prison – and did spend time in Tullamore Prison, where she went on hunger strike with all the other suffragettes, protesting against the privileges they were given and in order to be afforded political prisoner status. She was not force-fed but was released early after three weeks in prison.)

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        • I don’t think so. I think the fact that the police treat white women this way is absolutely the responsibility of the white women (and white men), because there is a cult of white womanhood in this country, because we have huge power (if nothing else as consumers) that we refuse to see as a reason for solidarity, and because there is a cult of white womanhood around us that protects us that we refuse to reject or even address. This is the exact same social/cultural force that got Emmett Till killed in 1955 and countless others before him. It hasn’t changed, only been transformed because it is no longer considered generally socially acceptable to murder a black man for looking at a white woman; we’ve deleted this responsibility to the police, many of whom who take it out on black bodies with our explicit or tacit approval. The only possible defense is that people are unaware. However, while that lack of awareness might have been defensible five years ago, since Ferguson, it is not.

          Although my knowledge of Irish history is sparse, I think it’s hard to compare your example with the situation in the U.S. It’s what I referred to in my post about this. In the U.S., the suffragettes tended to be abolitionist but many were openly racist, objecting to the idea that black men could receive the franchise before they did, or seeing the grant of suffrage to black men as an obstacle to the success of their movement. (Even now, there’s a bitter, I would say inadvertently, racist question in the minds of some white female activists — is the U.S. so sexist that we’d even elect a black man to avoid having a woman as president?) So while I have an affection for the history of the suffragette movement (as a white woman), and while I see positively the pilgrimages of white women who go to put their “I voted” stickers on her gravestone, a black woman activist might see that and think, Susan B. Anthony, oh yeah, that woman who opposed the passage of the 15th Amendment (extended the franchise to formerly enslaved men). I get that. It’s not unreasonable to say about the early 20th c., yeah, while you white girlz were out there in your wonderfully ironed white dresses demonstrating for the vote with your cute placards and while a handful of you were roughed up by the police or force fed, all of my ancestors, every woman in my family for generations after emancipation was picking cotton sixteen hours a day when it was ripe just to keep her family afloat. Half of those white women probably had black women at home ironing their pinafores and sewing their bunting and making them lunch when they got home.

          The fact that suffragism was heavily an effort of the privileged classes and highly educated, wealthy white women doesn’t mean that white protests are worthless. As I also tried to say in my post about this, it means the protests get noticed and without violence. But it does mean that they do not mean what white women are always telling us they mean — because all of those protests occurred and occur on the backs of black women, in awareness of their oppression, and often, very visibly, with whites’ explicit approval of that oppression. To go back to the early 20th c., in the original march on Washington, black women were ordered to march separately from their white sisters. Ida B. Wells, who’s known for protesting this, was told by white women in the US and even by Europeans, whom she tried to support in the fight for suffrage, that she needed to shut up about her anti-lynching campaign because she was harming the cause. In short, white women in the US have shown a strong tendency to act in ways that suggest that specifically racially-based injustice is either not happening or irrelevant to our struggles.

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          • I feel stupid for admitting that I did not realise quite how divisive (or maybe divided?) US society is, and that there is this overwhelming dominance of white women. I do remember from my time studying at a US universities in the 1990s, that I was shocked at how little black and white students mixed – and had hoped things had improved since then. But yeah, I guess white women need to be more inclusive. Not sure how this is to be done – do you think that means that white women have to consciously take a step back to let black women take over the cause? A kind of affirmative action?
            Forget my example in that context – it was more about illustrating that white/privileged/middle class women were *conscious* of the fact that there were not treated equally *as women*, not about the fact that the suffragism movement was dominated by middle-class women.
            I’m pretty shocked by your cited fact that historically white women activists have on the whole actively suppressed participation of black women. That’s damning.

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            • A black woman in the US is six times as likely to go to jail in her lifetime as a white woman. (Of course, this also has to do with class issues, but again the black community has the highest poverty rates, roughly three times that of whites, and almost half of black children grow up in poverty.) We are incredibly privileged and society supports our notion of ourselves as (relatively speaking to all other women) important. Our speech and discourse and even the jokes we make testify to our belief that our freedom to express our opinions is more important than the feelings of others, and that issues that do not affect us personally are not real issues. And we show little solidarity with each other (either other white women, or other women period).

              I always think the first thing is to ask black feminists / black activists what they need, but I know there are three things I’d put on my list:

              1) We must show physical solidarity with the issues that move black women activists. It’s striking that the Black Lives Matter protests are populated primarily by black people, as if they are the only ones to whom police violence matters. It’s a problem for us to want black women to participate in pan-feminist protest if we pretend that the issues that affect them are not feminist issues, or to act as if the issues we’re concerned about are things that we invented and about which there is not a history of ferment in other feminist communities.

              2) We have to take responsibility for our own mistakes. One of the most common complaints this last weekend that I’ve been hearing is that while the protest was dominated by white women, it was only necessary in the first place because white women voted for Trump (53% of us, as opposed to 4% of black women and roughly 25% of Latinas). In other words, suddenly white women are afraid they’re going to be treated like minority women and so they’re horrified. But when someone points this out, a white woman will say, “not me!” as if we have a right that minority women have never had: to be perceived outside of the general attitudes and actions of other members of our race. In that vein, what white women activists really need to do is to work hard on persuading our white sisters — not clamor for the support of minorities who have already been in this place for a long time already. It’s not entirely clear that demonstrating (as much as it rattled Donald Trump, and that may be one of the best results of this whole action — the way that his administration’s inadequate response is still dominating the news cycle three days later and more) is the way to do that, because there is nothing that strikes fear and disdain and contempt further into the heart of a conservative white woman than mass protests. I’m not saying there is no role for protests, just that they are not going to be persuasive to white women who don’t already agree.

              3) inclusiveness needs to be intentional, not an afterthought. I was reading today that a lot of black women skipped the local protests in Madison because the national protest leaders had to be called out for not including black women in their leadership (and then, of course, when they did invite black women to join, they insisted “these women are not a token,” which was counter-productive). There are always going to be issues with representativeness and someone will probably object that it’s not possible to represent every subgroup, but if we expect black woman activists not to be offended by the norm of their exclusion, more conscious intentionality of inclusion would help a lot in that regard.

              Liked by 1 person

        • Or, I guess to put it in much shorter terms — to talk in wondrous terms about how there was no violence at the women’s protest in the U.S. is, in my mind, essentially crowing about white privilege gets you.

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          • The whole violence issue was not really something that stood out for me at all, I have to admit. It never occurred to me that that was a USP. But yeah, I saw comments to that effect, too.

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            • I think it only would if one were thinking about this protest as part of a context or continuum of recent protests covered in the media in the U.S. (most of which have come out of Black Lives Matter) and all of which have involved violence / arrests. The one specifically on my mind was the Baton Route protest against police violence in which pictures went round the world of four police in riot gear confronting an unarmed African American woman. But to me this was precisely the problem with this protest; it seemed like many protestors were entirely unaware of that context / continuum or sought explicitly to distance themselves from it.

              Liked by 1 person

    • What is important to me, is that the marches, even if they have not had any tangible results, are seen as a useful form of democratic expression and activism. They function as catalysts, they are signs of hope, they create community. I am not saying that they are perfect in achieving all these things – that they make *everyone* follow up the marches with actions, that *everyone* felt fully encouraged by them, or that they have created a *fully inclusive* community of women. But they have done that for *some* people and on *some* level. I choose to see them as a positive thing, as an encouragement that women *could* unite across divisions, and change something.
      I think you caught exactly what I meant with my hesitation to feel pride about the marches. And still I feel really glad about millions of women taking to the streets, and about attending one of the marches myself.

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  8. @Guylty,
    @Besotted,
    @Servetus,

    sorry, I can’t “like” something here, so: Thanks for the discussion(s) above.
    Interesting read, and I learned a few details I didn’t understand before. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Awesome post, Guylty. As usual you got the nail on the head wrt the intersection of fandom and RA’s statement and our fandom.

    I attended the march in Lansing MI – a little over an hour’s drive each way. Carpooled with two new friends who chipped in for gas. The march was a starting point for me. I’m already actively working for nonpartisan redistricting here in Michigan which is EXTREMELY gerrymandered. And I’ve even gotten my cousin-in-law on board, who’s a conservative college student who thinks for himself. Yeah I’d say march galvanized me. to act… Much like marches on the Vietnam era did, in the U.S.!

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    • Brilliant – that’s a great outcome of the march, I think. Hooking up with others for it and building on the shared experience. Since I was on the march with my kids, I didn’t really get to connect to other people. I suppose, the shared experience galvanised the three of us. Daughter has decided to do her upcoming school project on the Irish suffragette movement for instance. But I think it also works as a first experience with direct political expression – the first of many marches.
      I had no idea gerrymandering was still alive and kicking in the US!!! Fingers crossed that you can get the issue addressed!

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      • Going on the march with your kids is aces – mine are still too immature (in my opinion) to march, although I did take my 10 year old with me yesterday to ask our State Rep about nonpartisan redistricting reform (she had a day off from school.)

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        • I say, start them early. (Mine have been on marches ever since they were babies. But yeah, I have been accused of “brainwashing” my kids, too.) There was a while, however, when they were not always keen on attending a protest. I distinctly remember one of the marriage equality marches that daughter refused to go on. She did not want to be associated with “queer politics”. She was about 12 at the time… Of course I didn’t force her…
          Still, I think it is great that your daughter came with you. It is good for them to see their mothers = role models in a political context, actively protesting for something. You are sowing the seeds. I do have high hopes for the next generation.

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      • I know that most of the local “Panstsuit Nation” groups broke away to do their own thing. My local group posts an action a day on facebook, as well as holding a monthly meeting. Bless the women who run it- they post phone numbers or addresses of who we should contact each day. I know there are several national groups doing this too. I was too emotional to attend my town’s march (had a friend die 3 days before), but I will never forget what I felt seeing those pics from around the world. One tiny town in my home state of Alabama even had 50 marchers! And I was also happy to see many of the male writers, actors, etc I like joining in. A strong woman cannot diminish a strong man. That and the different faiths, ethnicities, etc that I saw made me hopeful.
        My background with demonstrations was growing up in late 60s to early 80s in a very racist part of Alabama.

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        • That is all very encouraging, particularly the action suggestions.
          Also, I did not know that there were marches at local level, sometimes with small numbers as you mention. THat makes a protest even more difficult. Those participants really put themselves out there. Kudos.

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    • That sounded very familiar to me. (No wonder – first published by our US sister organisation.) The lack of inclusiveness (and the tendency of the left to be complacent and condescending) seems to be a general problem, no matter where we are.

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    • Fantastic article. That one really makes sense to me, as it explains the issue very clearly.
      I also looked at this one: http://www.vox.com/identities/2017/1/17/14267766/womens-march-on-washington-inauguration-trump-feminism-intersectionaltiy-race-class
      And this really summed it up for me personally: “Finding out that you might be harming people simply because you have been oblivious to them and their needs is a hard truth to confront.” Probably one of the reasons why I have found it hard to discuss this topic with you here (apart from the fact that racial issues have simply not been as prominent in my experience of protest, not just because I am white but because I am not living in the US). But quite clearly also the best motivation to overcome that silly, selfish hurt. The concept of intersectionality really makes sense to me now. And these two sentences at the end of the article really ring true: ” if your longer-term goal is to use the march as a catalyst for progressive social and political change, then that has to include thinking about race and class privilege.” and “When we organize under the banner of shared womanhood, acknowledging all these moving parts makes our collective work not weaker but stronger.”

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Guylty, Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I was at one of the U.S. Marches in spirit! Women must be ever vigilant to protect our hard won rights, and to work for full participation in our society! And it was wonderful to see such an outpouring of strong feelings and advocacy for women’s/human’s rights around the world! Hugs & Love! Grati ;->

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