It's been a year since thousands of women marched on cities and towns across America. The Women's March, one of the largest organized protests in American history, saw women coming together in unity to stand up for women's rights and protest the election of a reported misogynist as president. It was a moment that ended up resonating throughout the entire year; in fact, many called 2017 the Year of the Woman. And from that protest came an evocative symbol of feminism; the pink "pussy hat." As women prepare to come together to march again in 2018, some people are tossing their pink Women's March hats for a thought-provoking reason.
While many women will be dusting off their knitted pink hats from last year's march, some have decided against it. Why? Because despite all of the good intentions and morale-boosting power behind the original design of the pink hat, it could exclude all sorts of people. Women of color, for instance, or transgender women and gender non-binary women who may not identify with the symbolism.
"The sentiment that the pink pussyhat excludes and is offensive to transgender women and gender nonbinary people who don't have typical female genitalia and to women of color because their genitals are more likely to be brown than pink," The Detroit Free Press explained of the reasoning.
As Women's March Michigan founder and president Phoebe Hopps told The Detroit Free Press:
I personally won’t wear one because if it hurts even a few people's feelings, then I don't feel like it’s unifying. I care more about mobilizing people to the polls than wearing one hat one day of the year.
So where did these so-called pink "pussy hats" come from? Two women named Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman came up with the idea after President Donald Trump was elected in 2016. As you may remember, not long before the election an audio tape was released that found the soon-to-be president bragging that he was so wealthy he could just grab women "by the p**sy." They called it the Pussyhat Project, and hoped that women would come together to knit and crochet these hats as a strong visual symbol of feminism.
The Pussyhat is a symbol of support and solidarity for women's rights and political resistance. Make a hat! Give a hat! Wear your hat! Share a hat!
When women and the men who stand with them come together to march the weekend of Jan. 20 and 21 in Las Vegas, Nevada, things might look a little different. First of all, this year's march, which will fall (more or less) on the anniversary of the original Women's March, will be all about the Power to the Polls. A more targeted march to encourage women to become leaders and advocates themselves:
The national voter registration tour will target swing states to register new voters, engage impacted communities, harness our collective energy to advocate for policies and candidates that reflect our values, and collaborate with our partners to elect more women and progressives candidates to office. The coordinated campaign will build upon Women’s March’s ongoing work uplifting the voices and campaigns of the nation’s most marginalized communities to create transformative social and political change.
And perhaps people will be seeing fewer pink hats this year as well, which is great. Because any kind of exclusion sort of goes against the overriding theme of the Women's March; it's all about unity. Standing together.
When women gather all over the country this January, there might not be a sea of pink. Because perhaps women don't need a strong visual symbol to anchor them together any longer. Perhaps, after a long year of change and struggle and resisting, women can stand together just because it's the right thing to do. Unified not be a symbolic accessory but by common goals. Unified by resistance, not exclusion.
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