Hundreds of thousands of feminists globally turned out for the fourth annual Women’s March this past weekend. As with any large social movement, there are bound to be disagreements amongst its supporters, and the Women’s March is no exception. With the march having just taken place, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge and work through one of the initial and unfortunate shortcomings of the first march — misuse of privilege.
The day after the inauguration of the current occupant of the White House, millions of feminists around the world took to the streets to express their frustrations with the election of a president whose previous statements and actions have been anti-women. Of these millions of demonstrators, around 470,000 traveled to Washington, D.C. to protest. While many of the protests taking place around the world were true representations of feminist diversity, the one in Washington appeared a bit more homogenous — specifically more upper-middle class.
There is nothing wrong with turning out to support a cause you believe in, especially when you have the opportunity to do so directly in spite of your oppressor. However, the problem with so many people from around the world traveling to Washington to protest in front of the White House was the fact that the costs of doing so severely outweighed the benefits. Many of those who attended the march in Washington could only do so because they had the financial ability to take time off of work and afford a roundtrip airfare and accommodations.
According to the Women’s March website, there were 673 marches globally, with 408 being held in the United States. This means that most of those who traveled to the Washington march had a local march they were leaving behind. The amount of privilege exuded in wasting such funds to go to the nation’s capital for an Instagram post rather than attending one’s local grassroots march is a slap in the face to the many feminists around the world who do not have similar levels of privilege.
Those who traveled to the Washington march would have done a lot more good by attending their local marches and donating the money they saved from not traveling to Washington to feminist organizations like Planned Parenthood, the Times Up Legal Defense, and the Trans Women of Color Collective, to name a few. Going forward, the Washington march should serve as a lesson for all activists with higher levels of privilege to evaluate how best to utilize their time and resources to maximize the betterment of those in their respective movements who are struggling the most.
Art by UCSD Guardian artist Kyoko Downey.
Photo of the SD women’s march courtesy of The Times of San Diego.