Saturday, February 24, 2018
The Profile

The Women’s March on Washington Inspires Continued Feminist Activism

Hannah Matthews

Staff Writer

Millions of protesters across the nation and the world marched against the ideals and ethics of the newly inaugurated Trump administration on Jan. 21. The cause continues to elicit civil disobedience from veteran and amateur protesters, young and old alike, and of every demographic, including members of the Agnes Scott community.

“[Protests] try to raise awareness about an issue,” said Dr. Whitworth, a Women’s Studies professor at Agnes Scott. “Solidarity is powerful, and for people to show up in those kinds of numbers is affirming.”

With the use of social media, the march extended its influence in over 100 cities across the world with as many as 4.6 million participants according to The Atlantic.

“The Women’s March is the culmination of the power of social media to promote coalition politics in the modern age,” said Dr. Whitworth. “I think we take for granted how mobilizing politically has changed with social media.”

With so many participants, the number of causes represented reached beyond women’s rights. However, after the marches ceased, contention arose as to whether or not these intersectional topics, such as transgender rights and Black Lives Matter, were properly delineated.

“The march points out the shortcomings of doing radically inclusive feminist work,” said Dr. Whitworth. “But it also points out the promise of where women-centric movements can go.”

Efforts were made to include the voices of marginalized groups in the Women’s March platform, including “ending gender and racial inequalities in the justice system, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, workers’ rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights and environmental justice.”

“There is no way there is going to be a perfect platform,” said Dr. Whitworth. “But it is a really powerful document.”

With the diverse and innumerable participation, especially from participants who have never taken part in a political movement, a key concern of many activists is maintaining the momentum.

“The most important thing about marches is the follow up,” said Idil Hussein ‘18. “If there is no dedication, no strategy, nothing, then no policy will change.”

The outlets for this continued outreach manifest in many forms, from ACLU memberships and letter writing, to additional protests and consideration for campaigning.

“I hope more women will become actively involved in politics,” said Melissa Butler ‘00. “I’m super introverted and socially awkward, but even I have considered running for office.”

One of the most effective means of change students and graduates alike can reach toward is grassroots activism.

“I will be working with a group of women in the halls of the Georgia Capitol, meeting legislators and trying to engage with them on issues that are important to women and to families,” said Colleen O’Neill Gould ‘84 graduate. “I’ve also volunteered with Indivisible Georgia in the  attempt to get a Democrat elected to the seat.”

However, the mere discussion of the movement’s direction has moved intersectional feminist theory into common spaces.

“Discourse showing tensions within the movement that normally take place in something like a Women’s Studies course are on websites like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post, forcing us to have a different conversation,” said Dr. Whitworth.

“Dialogue needs to happen among groups, meaning we need to talk and listen, and figure out how we move forward best representing everyone,” said Lelania Watkins ‘09.

With the combination of dialogue and participation, the movement has nowhere neared its end.

“In the era of fake news and media bubbles it’s easy for people to say that feminism is a fringe movement, or its only supported by a specific type of women,” said Lori Finklea ‘10. “I think the march showed that not to be true.”

“This isn’t easy work,” said Dr. Whitworth. “But we need to be willing to be uncomfortable and be honest.”

 

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