I was recently told “Not good enough. Dig deeper” on a Facebook thread about the infamous Pussy hats. Immediately I felt confused, defensive, and upset. But then I really thought about it. Sometime our privilege can blind us to seeing farther than our own noses. I had stated that the hats were great last year, pink was for planned parenthood and has been the default color for girl for ages…but things take a life of their own and while it was empowering to be in a sea of women of all skin colors (though admittedly a touch heavy on the white chicks side) But I will be wearing something else this year. And then I snidely remarked that if anyone thought that hat was a true representation of a vagina…well, I don’t even know.
It was a FB comment, short and not containing all I wanted to say. I thought perhaps my message was clear but it wasn’t. So I spent an hour reading op-eds and articles about the start of the pink hat movement and now. The tone has really changed.
Everything happened fast and furious and the pink hats were something that could be shared on line. They were quick and easy to mail, a way to show our upset and unity against Trump. They made a powerful visual. A sea of pink so deep and wide we couldn’t even actually march because there were too many of us to move!
A year has passed, and while our wounds (well, mine anyway) are re-opened every day by some new fresh hell of a program being cut, or an abuser gas-lighting a nation and his ilk feeling emboldened to bring blatant racism out into the open, some things HAVE changed. One of those things is the meaning and value of the pink hat. Many people don’t feel that the pink hat is inclusive to them. Women means ALL women. Of all colors. Of all orientations. Cis or trans. Many of them are saying these hats do not represent them. And while we may argue “it’s just a hat!” and “that’s not what we meant!” is the pink pussy hat really a hill to die on?
I sure don’t think so. The pussy hat is safely in my closet with all my other memorabilia from the march and from seeing Hillary, I’ve put it away for my daughter. Maybe she will think it’s a cool show and tell. Maybe she will roll her eyes and think I am ridiculous for saving every little thing, including but not limited to a gold press on tattoo of a uterus. I think fondly on that day, packed like sardines surrounded by a million women and more than a few men, protesting. Sometimes I look back on that moment when I feel alone and need to recharge.
This year we march again, all of us, arm in arm as we watch our democracy slip dangerously into banana republic territory and I want to make it clear I am with all women of all colors, shapes, sizes, orientations, cis or trans. I AM WITH HER.
To do this we must accept that there was racism in feminism. While white women fought for rights, women of color watched their children, cleaned houses and were not allowed to fight alongside them. and in fact were quite vocally excluded from benefits white women were hoping to reap. We cannot go back in time and fix that, it’s past. But there is much we can do now, and an easy one is listen and put away the hat. What does it cost us, as white women, what do we lose as white women to acknowledge the past and work to make our current movement inter-sectional? We lose nothing and we gain everything. We are, ahem, stronger together.
FEMINISM MUST BE INTER-SECTIONAL OR IT IS NOT FEMINISM AT ALL.
That means so much more than a pink hat. So let go of what the hat meant last year, honor it. It really meant something to me, then but it served it’s purpose. The resistance, the people are what matters, are what create change. Not a hat. So I will be there in DC marching, and I won’t be wearing a pink pussy hat. I ordered a Mueller Time hat. I hope it comes in time.
For many of us the Women’s March was our first protest, and it was amazing. It was inspiring and inspirational, but the pink pussy hats aren’t like the best souvenir from the best concert we ever went to. Women are in peril in this country. Starting with marginalized women. It is on us who occupy the center to pull focus to them. If they are saying loudly “these hats don’t represent us and in fact make us feel excluded” it costs me NOTHING to say. No hat, got it. I don’t take it personally, I just take off the hat and double down on plans to be vocal in my support of women and their causes. All women.
The real question is does our love for a pink hat supersede our love for our fellow women?
There is only one correct answer to that. No.
Then grab a blue wave hat, or a rainbow hat, or an RBG or whatever you want, and meet me on January 20th.
Cause we have work to do.