Cynthia M. Allen: Women’s March on Washington won’t be open to all women
On Saturday, thousands of women are expected to gather in Washington, D.C., and cities across the nation for the Women’s March on Washington.
Event organizers have said the march is not a protest but a gathering to “promote women’s equality and defend other marginalized groups.”
But the march’s purpose — the day following Donald Trump’s inauguration is transparent: to counterbalance the views, real and perceived, espoused by the new president.
Through his words and actions, Trump has given women many reasons for concern, some that I share and some that seem blatantly alarmist and silly.
But even if I felt compelled to wrangle my two young daughters (no easy task) and join a sisterhood of women marching together to promote women’s equality (a cause that sounds laudable), I would find myself unwelcome.
Because I am pro-life, and in the world of modern, progressive feminism, that makes me and the millions of women like me persona non grata.
This week, march organizers removed the New Wave Feminists, a Texas-based pro-life group, from the list of partner organizations on its website.
A statement from the march explained how the group had been granted partnership status “in error,” and assured other member groups (including sponsors like Planned Parenthood and NARAL) and marchers that the march’s pro-abortion principles meant that only those who hold such a belief should consider themselves welcome.
“We look forward to marching on behalf of individuals who share the view that women deserve the right to make their own reproductive decisions,” i.e. people who support abortion.
Perhaps I’m splitting hairs, but it seems bad form to plan a march for the equality of all women if you mean only those women who think as you do.
Should one assume that if she thinks otherwise, she in not only uninvited, but unequal?
The truth is this is really the Progressive Women’s March on Washington, and like most things on the left these days, hysterics abound.
But excluding pro-life women was not the first controversy for the women’s march.
The New York Times reported in early January that comments by some march organizers and attendees — some accusing white women and older women of ignoring racism before the era of Trump and chiding them to “check your privilege” — have alienated other marchers, causing many to rethink their participation.
One disenchanted would-be marcher told the Times, “This is a women’s march … Why is it now about, ‘White women don’t understand black women?’”
March organizers say this sort of dialogue, where women of different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs explore and address how their “intersecting identities” compound their oppression, is the ultimate purpose of the march.
Indeed, the guiding principles of the march declare that its members “practice empathy with the intent to learn about the intersecting identities of each other.”
That’s a lovely goal, even if it forces participants to engage in uncomfortable conversations.
The principles also state: “We will suspend our first judgment and do our best to lead without ego.”
This is also a commendable value.
But it seems it’s so lofty that not even the event organizers are able to stand by it.
Why else would they have excluded a group of women who believe that a movement based on human dignity and justice must include the rights of the unborn?
And why is such a belief so threatening that judgment will not be suspended for those who hold it?
If the women organizing Saturday’s event are really interested in initiating difficult but necessary dialogues between women, there are few issues that would benefit more from some listening, empathy and understanding than abortion.
But like so many movements on the progressive left, it would seem this women’s march is based on high ideals its leaders have no intention of upholding.
As the New Wave Feminists wrote on their Facebook page in response to being dumped as a march partner: “Oh, well. I’m not losing any sleep over it.”
Cynthia M. Allen is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.