Every direction I looked in, I saw a sea of people. At 5’4, I couldn’t see far enough out into the crowd to know what was going on beyond a few feet ahead of me. If I was anywhere else I would have had a panic attack. But with my friends and family, surrounded by feminists, I handled the crowd pretty well. After all, we were all there for the same reason. Or at least I thought we were.
My cousin crocheted a pink pussy hat for me. I tried to learn how to crochet but it proved to be more challenging and less relaxing than I anticipated. With the march only a week and a half away, it seemed like a better option to accept defeat and have her make one for me. At first, it didn’t dawn on me that the pussyhats were pink because they represent white vaginas. It’s an easy conclusion to draw but I’m black and assumed pink was chosen because it is often associated with femininity. Three minutes at the Women’s March and I understood otherwise…vagina was the star of this show.
More women than I had ever seen in my entire life paraded posters throughout the march that featured ovaries, uterus, and vaginas. Women in all of the art I saw, whether clothed or otherwise, were white. At first I carried my pink pussyhat not wanting to wear it and deal with the aftermath of my curly tresses. But the deeper I went into the rally, the more the idea of putting it on just didn’t feel quite right.
There was a lot to process at the march. It was without a doubt one of the most memorable experiences of my life and I’m so thankful that I was able to be there. It also was an opportunity for me to witness first hand what needs to be worked on to make this space more inclusive.
Empowering people with vaginas is great but do we need the symbol of an equality movement to be a pink pussy hat? Not all women have vaginas, uteruses, or ovaries and not all pussies are pink. I understand the pussy hat originally serving as a response the Nacho Nazi’s “grab them by the pussy” comment but it doesn’t need to represent the entire movement. I also understand how important it is to normalize vaginas and stop acting as if they are this complex mystery, only really here to serve men. However, I believe we can still educate people on the female reproductive system and stand up for our rights without centering the entire movement around the pink pussyhat. The march and feminism as a whole is about so much more than white vaginas.
I’ve heard suggestions of creating new hats that are various shades of pinks and browns. While this takes a step towards being inclusive of women of color, it is still completely isolating to trans people. Both trans women and femme people belong in this movement as much as anyone else. Statistics show that trans people need a safe space more than anyone else as they are killed in higher numbers than any other group of people. Sometimes trans women and femme people have vaginas and sometimes they do not. Either way it is none of our business to know but completely our business to include them in our feminism.
Not everyone was at the Women’s March for the reasons I was. Not everyone wants equality for all women. Some women are happy to just find equality for themselves, bridging the pay gap and getting the healthcare they deserve, and then leaving other groups of marginalized women to fend for themselves after receiving their help. They are not concerned with police brutality or bathroom bills. This certainly isn’t the case for all white woman and I would say that more white women are trying to practice intersectional feminism than those who are complicit with white supremacy. With that being said, it’s incredibly important to check our privilege constantly and continue evolving. Wanting to practice intersectional feminism isn’t the same as actually practicing it.
At the time, maybe you didn’t realize why the pussyhats were pink. Maybe you want to be an ally for LGBTQ* but you failed to remember that not all women have the same parts as you. Now you know, so now it’s time to do better. Let’s create a feminism movement that is intersectional, inclusive, and intentional. Let’s think before we speak, act, or create so we can evaluate whether what we are adding to the conversation around feminism is truly intersectional. Put down your pussyhat, pick up a stack of books on feminism and a willingness to learn from others, and let’s get to work!