Radicals undo their own message after large-scale protests
February 8, 2017
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Before getting into it, I respect every American’s right to free speech and organization. After all, this great nation was born out of a riot wild enough to get a ride at Canobie Lake based on it.
Everyone noticed the women’s march in protest against President Trump last month and many Anselmians even attended in Boston or Concord. It was undeniably effective at grabbing the nation’s attention and raising awareness of the marchers’ main concerns: Trump’s views on abortion and repulsive statements about women.
Obviously not everyone was thrilled about the march, including pro-lifers, the alt-right, and even members of the transgender community who were concerned that the “women’s” march focused so heavily on cis-straight women. Yet it was an edit of the anti-Trump “children were watching” ad from Clinton’s campaign replacing Trump quotes with march speakers’ quotes that got me thinking about the message the march was sending.
In case you missed it the first time, the pink feline hats that dotted DC were a pun referencing one of Trump’s rude comments about women, but I know you didn’t miss it because there were enough signs with ‘pussy’ scrawled across them that if Lil Jon read every one he’d have a new album. My favorites? The ones with the ‘pussy grabs back’ slogan.
If you asked me who my favorite prominent feminist figure is, I’d tell you Harriet Tubman. If you asked me to list all the things I like about Harriet Tubman, ‘pussy’ wouldn’t rank especially high. I feel weird just putting the two in the same sentence.
Some of the signs and costumes definitely got a chuckle out of me, though I’m worried this wasn’t the marchers’ intention. Rather than appealing to the side of me that likes seeing justice in our country, they appealed to the side of me that liked Amy Schumer’s stand-up special enough to watch the whole thing.
The problem with pushing pussy around is not because it breaks the social expectancy of women being proper, but that the target audience was lawmakers. Lawmakers are not going to be impressed by bragging about genitalia or signs that look like middle school stall graffiti, they are going to look at the movement as a giant joke.
There exists a major group not yet touched upon: the marchers who protested sans vulgarity and/or held themselves with pride based in their hearts, minds, spirits, and other places that are not determined by having two X chromosomes.
Harriet Tubman isn’t my favorite feminist because she was a woman, she’s my favorite feminist because she liberated slaves, lead armed assaults against the Confederacy, stood up for women’s suffrage, and generally raised hell for all the right reasons. She even made an effective statement against President Lincoln’s original opposition to emancipation, which sounds awfully timely.
I like to think most feminists are like Harriet Tubman, standing up for justice because it is right, not because it is popular, but as with any group the radicals manage to screech loudly over the calm voices of the rationals. When I see videos from the women’s march on Facebook or TV, I’m not seeing the people who want to make a difference in this country; I’m hearing a bunch of Hollywood has-beens preach about how great vaginas are or blowing up the White House.
The women’s march should have been an important moment for America. It had millions of women standing up for what they believe in and received international recognition, but all it took were weirdos in labia costumes to turn the whole thing into meme-fuel. The protestors have the constitutional right to be heard, but as long as insane people have the same right the reasonable voices will have that much more opposition.
Given this case, maybe the best option for making your voice heard is not en masse like our tea-chucking forefathers. In an overcrowded, media-hailing world, maybe millions of small, important messages mean more than one large, comically theatrical message.
By all means go with whatever option suits you, but know that options like writing letters to politicians, organizing smaller-scale protests directly to the target, or having personal conversations with friends are perfect forms of communication that can never be tainted by extremists.