The Operative Word is ‘Hat,’ Not ‘Pussy.’

 

 

One year ago, over one million people marched in opposition to the culture of racism, trans/homophobia and misogyny.  Many of us wore pink ‘pussy’ hats as a symbol of pride and unity against the fear, anger and ignorance threatening to tear our country apart.

From its inception, the Women’s March on Washington sought to be intentionally inclusive, including trans women and women of color in its planning, in its stated values, and on stage.  The March was founded to stand in solidarity against those who seek power and dominance by diminishing the lives of others.  Across the country, we wore pink hats to publicly state that hate and bigotry do not have a mandate in this country.

Shortly after the march, preparing a forum for the WMW CT Chapter, a dissenter yelled across the college student center, calling me a ‘walking vagina.’  I was confused, at first, before I realized she was referring to the pink pussy hat I wore.  “Does she really think this is about body parts?” I found myself wondering.  I was befuddled how a symbol of support and unity was being spoken of in such crude terms.

Lately, attempts have been made to paint this symbol as intentionally divisive and exclusive.  No one is forcing hats upon anyone, but blanket claims that anyone wearing one is inherently racist or transphobic because of it are misplaced, at best.

As a transwoman, I have experienced the exclusion which many of us have.  But not in DC, nor here in my work with the Connecticut Chapter.  I stood proudly beside Sarah Raskin, as she accepted an award from CWEALF, on behalf of ‘all women, with vaginas and without.’ Nice, cis, pussy-hat wearing Sarah wrote that line, not the transwoman standing beside her.  No-one, cis, trans, or intersex, should ever be reduced to their genitalia, and neither should this symbol.  We of the WMW refuse to be defined by one body part.  That is part of the point.

The color pink was chosen, not as genital color, but to reclaim a color stereotyped as feminine weakness and reclaim it as feminine strength and unity.

The critics have a legitimate point.  It’s important to acknowledge that problems of racism, classism and trans/homophobia exist within the left.  I work in several groups, political, social and religious, who are scratching their heads about how they can be more appealing and welcoming to minorities.  Perhaps we are asking the wrong question.

Perhaps we should be asking how we can support minority leadership, and minority organizations who are already doing this work.  Perhaps we should be respecting and supporting these communities humbly, on their own turf, rather than righteously wondering how we can get minorities to join under our wonderful umbrella.

While I cannot speak for marchers around the US, here in Connecticut, we have striven in intention and in fact to do just this.  Much of our work has been networking and supporting the efforts of others in their own great work, including, but not limited to gender, gender minority or racial equity, as well as many other causes.  We have lent our name, our time and our resources in supporting efforts of the very groups that some feel are excluded by the hat.

They’re hats, people, not maxi pads.  Let’s keep them on our heads, where they belong.

That’s the part I want people paying attention to, anyway.

Still not convinced?  Come to Hartford, CT on 1/20/18 and decide for yourself.

Stay Active!

CAM (She/her)

 

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