The Women’s March on Washington: When Inclusivity Does Not Mean Everybody

The day after the 2017 Presidential Inauguration thousands of women have marched in Washington seeking to have their voices heard for women’s rights. The march has been promoted as an inclusive event attempting to bring together a diverse group of organizations:

“The marches’ many partners represent a range of causes, including the environment and criminal justice among them. Organizers represent all 50 states, and groups including the ACLU, Amnesty International, EMILY’s List, Muslim Women’s Alliance, Planned Parenthood, and United We Dream.” (1)

For a march that claims to support women’s concerns it is odd and a bit disturbing that 40% of American women have purposely been excluded. Women, who have moral objections to abortion were not included. This is unfortunate as these women share many of the same concerns as feminists do, even when they find the term “feminist” does not adequately describe them. With a president that is so blatantly sexist and abusive towards women, it seems counter-productive to weaken women’s causes by 40%.

“Though the pro-life New Wave Feminists still plan to attend, many women of faith were disappointed in the decision to remove their official designation. Christians spanning from Life Action founder Lila Rose to LGBT advocate Julie Rodgers spoke out on Twitter on behalf of pro-life feminists.” (2)

I suspect part of the problem is historical in nature. The 1970’s saw harsh criticism from Evangelical women such as Phyllis Schlafly against the women’s movement and feminism. Old wounds heal slowly. But things are different today. Conservative women of faith may be wary of their more secular sisters, but also feel a need to stand up against sexism, violence against women and inequality. Unlike their male counterparts, conservative women are much more likely to have empathy for women who choose to have abortions, and to see the issue as more complex and in need of compassionate solutions rather than punishing women such as the president has suggested.

Politically, the Left’s failure to encompass Evangelical and Catholic women was a disastrous decision that may have cost them an election. ““Progressives have a chance to build a broader coalition here, and they are blowing it,” tweeted author Rachel Held Evans.” (3) The “Painful irony of pro-choice stance of Women’s March is that abortion was likely THE issue to tip scales for evangelical women to vote Trump,” said Hannah Anderson, who writes and podcasts about gender and theology for Christ and Pop Culture. “If Dems could have entertained possibility of a pro-life women’s vote, they’d have won.” (4)

Unfortunately today’s feminist movement has taken a decidedly non-inclusive turn, largely due to the Pro-choice organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America co-sponsoring events like this. While these groups do offer legitimate benefits for women, they have a underlying financial agenda, which raises concerns about a conflict of interest here. The end result is that the women’s movement has been largely co-opted by the abortion industry. “It further proves that this is what the abortion industry does,” said Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life. “They have taken over any talk of feminism in the country to point out that if you are antiabortion, you are accused of being anti-woman.” (5)

Indeed, the new voices within the feminist movement have decided that a Pro-life stance is inconsistent with the goals of the movement as it is now described: “Elizabeth Velez, a professor of women and gender studies at Georgetown University, said that feminism is a political term and that the idea that women should be able to choose what they do with their bodies is fundamental to feminism…Feminism is more than finding personal satisfactions in your life; it’s a political movement, and if you are not part of the political movement, you can’t be a feminist,” Velez said. “If you are pro-life, you are certainly not looking at the struggles across all of us.” (6)

So what the feminist movement is now doing is splitting up women rather than bring them together. It is weakening the cause and marginalizing women who have legitimate concerns, many of which mirror their own concerns. Rather than offer a voice of healing it further polarizes and divides women who, especially with this presidency, should be uniting.

Footnotes:

1. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/21/womens-march-aims-start-movement-trump-inauguration/96864158/

2. http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/january/womens-march-sets-out-to-exclude-40-percent-of-american-wom.html?utm_source=ctweekly-html&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=17445998&utm_content=490529671&utm_campaign=email

3. https://mobile.twitter.com/rachelheldevans/status/821217133476675584

4. https://mobile.twitter.com/sometimesalight/status/821157188722970628

5 & 6. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/is-there-a-place-for-anti-abortion-women-at-the-womens-march-on-washington/2017/01/17/2e6a2da8-dcbd-11e6-acdf-14da832ae861_story.html?utm_term=.64765b4a28bb

Author: socalkdl

Like so many Evangelicals of late, I have grown weary of the so-called "Culture Wars." I can agree with Philip Yancey in his "Vanishing Grace: Whatever Happened to the Good News," that grace within the church seems to be a vanishing commodity. Although still connected to the Evangelical church I have often felt distant and removed from portions of its theology and interaction with a Post-Christian society. A few years ago I felt it necessary, for my own spiritual health, to step back and "deconstruct" my theological belief set. I had become too enmeshed in the Evangelical "bubble" to honestly and critically assess my conservative theological doctrines. What has followed in the past few years is my own journey of rediscovering the Bible, and, above all, rediscovering God. It has become a journey that still surprises and delights me. Not everything is new. The faith first delivered to me by the Evangelical church has been reaffirmed. The Good News is still the best deal out there. But there have been new discoveries as well. It is my hope that my posts encourage your own questions and reassessments. It is my conviction that, because we see through a mirror darkly, there are questions that are valid to ask, and that we should not be afraid to ask them. God bless you in your own spiritual journeys. Kirk Leavens

17 thoughts on “The Women’s March on Washington: When Inclusivity Does Not Mean Everybody”

  1. If part of the goal was to make sure that a woman’s right to choose remains intact (which was a stated goal of the march), I guess you can color me confused by the anti-choice being shocked that their message is not welcome.

    I’m afraid we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am all for more choices, not less, so I suspect we would agree on most women’s issues. But I feel both sides of the abortion issue, left and right, have taken extreme, polarizing stances. What I have come to hope for women on this issue is a coming together to work out a platform that recognizes that abortion is a serious choice to be made as a last resort. On the other hand, those on the right, especially the male talking heads, need to realize that punishing women is not exceptable as well as they need to stop trying to legislate their particular form of Christianity. Pro-life should be about more choices, not “anti-choice,” a term as devisive as labeling pro-choice as merely “pro-abortion.” But these terms just underscore the need for meaningful conversation between women on the right as well on the left. Part of the problem with the pro-life movement is not offering a consistent, practical solution to carrying a child to full term when the mother cannot afford a child. Abortions offer a practical solution to unwanted pregnancy, but there should be other solutions available as well such as adoption, financial assistance, schooling assistance, free childcare, etc.. It is my hope that women can do so, but by narrowing the definition of feminism to solely pro-choice is really limiting choice. God bless.

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    1. Basically that’s what my wife said this morning (as she sat down to the breakfast I had made for her). But privilege is a funny thing. Some people are more privileged than others.

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  2. “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.
    Those words seem apt about now, when you have two groups of people reading off of two different playbooks, then clearly there will be instances where one will call the wrong play and things just won’t go their way. That said, a march that had the backing of 60% of the women is a profound achievement; should the 60% suffer because 40% will always disagree with their fundamental belief? If you were hoping for a day where 100% will agree completely, that just isn’t going to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not at all. The goal is not 100% agreement. My hope is for better dialogue between the two groups. Nor have I suggested 40% should rule the 60%. Your assumption is that the 40% “Will always disagree with their fundamental belief.” That is being close minded. It is not how compromise and problems are solved. As long as both sides hold similar views of each other there will be unresolved conflict. Progressive ideas change hearts and attitudes as well as laws over time. Conservativism is reactive and does not change things permanently in the long run. Allowing pro-life women into the feminist movement allows women, many of whom have been sheltered all their lives in a patriarchal Evangelical bubble, to see another side, to rub shoulders with women who have struggled over the decision to have an abortion. On the other hand, they may have some helpful suggestions of their own. Now, if progressive women do wish to cut off the 40%, then please don’t say they represent all women. They are simply a liberal political movement.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Have you watched a documentary called “Deborah 13: Servant of God”? Daughters so raised in patriarchal households are trained not to deviate from the precepts their righteous fathers have given them; I think you’re over-estimating any potential influence an outsider might have on them; particularly one whose beliefs are the opposite of their own. It would only serve to confirm how holy they are and how evil anyone is who doesn’t see things their way.

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      2. I have not seen it, but am well aware of the problems that “headship” and “subordination” of women in the church creates. It becomes more pronounced the closer one gets to Calvinism. IMO, though, not a reason to write all pro-life women off.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s not, but they had to be careful about the groups and the messages they did allow. This group – the New Feminists – they slut shame women, they use misinformation and outright lie to women; and they’re pro-life. They were invited as partners, and then dis-invited to be partners but still asked to attend at a regular level. With some groups, you cannot build bridges and they hurt the cause rather than help it. It wouldn’t be much different if a Christian march invited Westboro to be an official partner just because their church sign says “Baptist”, then changed their minds because of their notoriety, but still allowed them to march as just a group of regular people.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks Jamie. I will be looking into the New Feminists group and suspect there will be stuff I disagree with. I expect I will have a post sometime within the next month talking about the pro-life movement in general and them specifically that will manage to get conservatives riled up. If I’m lucky I can get all women mad at me, LOL. I think, however my next post will be on how the Donald managed to deflect media attention away from 4 million women marching to whether or not there was a large crowd at the inauguration. Unbelievable how he manages to bait the media.

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      5. It is unbelievable. We’ve seen how greed has turned our markets from shining symbols of prosperity to the cold, hard reality of depressions; making bank off of selling underwater homes; and now we have the richest businessman of all as president – you would have think that we would have learned that when it comes to business, the bottom line comes before people. Why we’d want a guy like that running our country is beyond me. Not only that, but Christians tried to impeach Pres. Clinton because of his affair but they didn’t blink an eye when Trump’s dubious morality was revealed.

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      6. I couldn’t agree more. I was so proud of my 92 year old mom, though. A lifetime Republican, Pentecostal Christian and she was so disturbed by the thought of Trump as Pres, she voted for Hillary, much to the consternation of my inlaws, LOL. I am not sure how much longer Evangelicals are going to toe the far right line, it is getting embarrassing for them, which is a good thing. Sure was a wonderful sight to see all those millions of women marching though. I am hoping for great things in the long run.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. With some groups, you cannot build bridges and they hurt the cause rather than help it.

    This is what I’m still having problems wrapping my brain around. What was The Cause marchers were marching for?

    In our country’s history, the most important marches on Washington have all had specific goals. Whether is was to bring racial equality or the end to the Vietnam war, there’s been a unifying goal. I’m just not seeing it here.

    It seems the goal of the Women’s March on Washington is to register displeasure with Donald Trump being our president. I totally get that. I agree with that. I didn’t want Trump to be our president. That’s why I marched to the polling place and stood in line so that I could vote for Hillary. I didn’t want to vote for Hillary, but I had no choice.

    No march no matter how well attended can overthrow a duly elected president. Not in our country. We decide who’ll be president, not in the streets, but in the voting booth.

    If my fellow liberals want to make sure Donald Trump is a one-term president, they need to avoid engaging in things like marches and instead focus on the real reason we lost the election. It wasn’t the Russians. It wasn’t Fake News. It was because Hillary lost Pennsylvania, Wisconson, Iowa, Ohio, and Florida. Obama carried these states in 2012.

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    1. With some groups, you cannot build bridges and they hurt the cause rather than help it.

      This is what I’m still having problems wrapping my brain around. What was The Cause marchers were marching for?

      In our country’s history, the most important marches on Washington have all had specific goals. Whether is was to bring racial equality or the end to the Vietnam war, there’s been a unifying goal. I’m just not seeing it here.

      It seems the goal of the Women’s March on Washington is to register displeasure with Donald Trump being our president. I totally get that. I agree with that. I didn’t want Trump to be our president. That’s why I marched to the polling place and stood in line so that I could vote for Hillary. I didn’t want to vote for Hillary, but I had no choice.

      No march no matter how well attended can overthrow a duly elected president. Not in our country. We decide who’ll be president, not in the streets, but in the voting booth.

      If my fellow liberals want to make sure Donald Trump is a one-term president, they need to avoid engaging in things like marches and instead focus on the real reason we lost the election. It wasn’t the Russians. It wasn’t Fake News. It was because Hillary lost Pennsylvania, Wisconson, Iowa, Ohio, and Florida. Obama carried these states in 2012.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Rick. I understand the confusion. There was a lot of agendas presented besides simply those directly affecting females. It kind of protested everything that is wrong in America so it was a bit overwhelming. But this was representative of the clash between two very different views of what America should look like. Donald deserved having 3 to 4 million people, especially women, march against him. He has managed to insult almost every group of people imaginable, people push back when bullied too far. The goal was to be heard, to let the male establishment know its not ok to treat women, minorities badly. What needs to happen now is the hard part. Working to change views on a wide range of social ills. Voting is not the only way change comes.

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  4. My Aunt and zip said the same thing. There was no intelligent, well communicated reason for marching. Everybody was just following each other and there was no discussion or dissent. Then a viral FB note got out there that was toxic about the necessity for women to be martyrdom and victims. Crazy stuff. We are spiritual people and want to infuse positive energy into it. Allowing rather than resistance.

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