Say it with me, ‘all this snow is great’. Now, ‘It’s January, there should be snow.’ Now breathe. Bend your knees, and shovel, and breathe. Just keep doing that over and over, until your mind and your sidewalk are clear.
This weekend, women across North America marched in solidarity with the #MeToo movement. It has evolved somewhat since its inception two years ago. Some of its growth has been difficult. Organizers of the original march on Washington have gone their separate ways and formed rival organizations. But in many ways the women’s movement and women in general are more united than ever. Record numbers of women ran for office in the November US midterm elections. The first ever muslim hijab-wearing woman took her seat in the House, as did the first Palestinian woman. It was a breakthrough year, I hope the trend of female candidates only increases as we head to our own federal elections this October.
The first women’s march on Washington was way back in 1913. Then known as the Women’s Suffragette Parade, marchers were largely rallying for the right to vote. That right wouldn’t become a reality for seven more years, and the parade would end with one hundred marchers hospitalized. It had taken place on the same weekend as the presidential inauguration, and spectators blocked the path of the marchers some becoming violent. Often overlooked is that women of colour were asked to march at the back of the group, so as to not ‘upset’ the southern wing of the suffragettes. The parade was a beginning, yet those in the women’s movement still had a hierarchy, and still tempered their protests to appeal to ‘polite society’.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, annual marches and protests formed each with its own focus; abortion rights, the equal rights amendment, equality in the workplace, the media’s portrayal of us, and to bring an end violence against women everywhere. Much progress was made in that period, however many women of colour continued to feel subjugated by the movement itself, as if select freedoms remained only for white feminists. Betty Friedan’s feminist movement in the 60s and 70s had more to do with white women in suburbia than it did with the LGTBQ community, which meant that a cohesive movement was still years away.
Today the original organizers of the Women’s March in 2017 have splintered over power and privilege, and who gets to claim the mantle of the women’s movement. There’s also an association between Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, and Tamika Mallory one of the original three organizers that continues to draw fire.
Yet with all of these obstacles, in the kind of cold that makes your skin hurt and your legs feel 3 times their regular weight, this weekend the women’s movement marched on here in Toronto. Their feminism was weatherproof. Let’s hope the movement itself is bulletproof, because we have so much more work to do to ensure that all voices in the movement are heard. There’s no reason to be impatient, we’ve been working this problem for more than one hundred years.
Look how far we’ve come.
Solidarity to my sisters, and power to the people.
Namaste y’all, Lisa