A critical look at the Women’s March on Washington and coverage from Dublin solidarity protest


Saturday 21st January saw 1000s take part in a Women's March against Trump in Dublin, a local solidarity march with the Women's March on Washington. It's estimated that 1% of the US population took to the streets to protest the Trump presidency that day with solidarity protests in dozens of cities around the world including Belfast.

The key question in the aftermath of the march is, are the movements going to be led into some sort of 'Michelle 2020' pacifism allowing the Republicans to run rampage for four years?

Or will it instead take to the streets and workplaces to actively prevent the implementation of his policies along the lines suggested by veteran organiser Angela Davis from the platform at the Washington DC march.

She called for a movement built around an “inclusive and intersectional feminism that calls upon all of us to join the resistance to racism, to Islamophobia, to anti-Semitism, to misogyny, to capitalist exploitation.

"Yes, we salute the fight for 15 [campaign for 15 dollar per hour minimum wage]. We dedicate ourselves to collective resistance. Resistance to the billionaire mortgage profiteers and gentrifiers. Resistance to the health care privateers. Resistance to the attacks on Muslims and on immigrants. Resistance to attacks on disabled people. Resistance to state violence perpetrated by the police and through the prison industrial complex. Resistance to institutional and intimate gender violence, especially against trans women of color.”

This pussy grabs back - a criticial look at the womens march

This critical look at the messaging ahead of the Washington march was written by one of our members,

Today the Women’s March on Washington takes place to demonstrate against the inauguration of Donald Trump as president. There have been a few problems with the organisation of this march in the US, laid out clearly and succinctly by Brittany T. Oliver earlier this week. It would appear that the old hallmark of white liberal feminism – racism – is as alive as ever in mainstream US feminism. This is not only evident in the amount of online accounts that can be found by women of colour criticising the march but in the liberal, apolitical pleas of the organisers not to ‘criticise politicians or political parties’, not to ‘destroy or damage property’ and to promote a ‘tone of respect’ at a time when we need to be stepping up our efforts against the state.

A Feminism Worth Fighting For:
Some of the grievances our sisters of colour have with the march is with the very title of the march:
“In the beginning, the march was named "One Million Woman," and soon after being made aware you were co-opting a march led by Black women in 1997, then you decided to change the name to "March on Washington." Well, this was another Black-led march that advocated for civil rights and culminated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.

Overall, you all have co-opted the messaging of these two very important historical moments in Black history and it's unfortunate because it's becoming increasingly difficult to preserve Black activism. Politically co-opting efforts with "ALL WOMEN" and "ALL VOICES" is merely an attempt to erase the specific needs of people of African descent.” – Brittany T. Oliver

This erasure of the struggle of our sisters of colour is unacceptable and should be actively challenged. 53% of white women who voted, voted Trump into power, this should weigh heavy on the heart of every white woman involved in activism and should act as a firing spark to turn these white allies into co-conspirators in tearing down white supremacy. It is disgraceful that opposition to the grotesquely racist Trump, who has frequently been depicted in KKK cartoons and endorsed by KKK personalities and leaders, has been met with feminism that doesn’t give a fuck about tearing down white supremacy. Equally, the response should not be an admission into the Oppression Olympics so that we can turn the social hierarchy on its head – the solution to dismantling oppressive hierarchies cannot be to turn the existing one on its head, you don’t dismantle hierarchy by creating more hierarchy. Intersectionality was not designed with this in mind; it is meant to be used as a tool to examine how oppression works, how various forms of it intersect and support other forms of oppression to provide us with a greater understanding of systems of oppression to make it easier for us to figure out how to tear them down.

The bourgeois individualist feminism of the likes of Clinton should not be anything to aspire to for anyone who is interested in ending sexism, never mind capitalism. The neo-liberal flavoured bullshit that seeks to put women in positions of leadership or higher job roles will not eliminate sexism or come anywhere close to dismantling the patriarchy; it will only ensure further oppression, with the gender of those doing the oppression becoming more diverse. We don’t want to create inclusive oppressors, we want an end to oppression.

For us, a feminism that’s worth fighting for isn’t one that wants a woman president, or a woman CEO; it’s no presidents and no CEOs. It’s a hollowing out of the current system, its dismantling and the birth of a new system conceived through collective struggle and agitation against oppression. This feminism must be anti-racist, anti-capitalist, queer, anti-disablism, against all oppression; it’s not good enough just to want an end to sexism, intersectionality tells us the patriarchy can’t end without all other oppressive power structures ending. This collective struggle against the current system must be built on a firm foundation of solidarity and affinity with a commitment to horizontalism and direct democracy. The politics of the good ally sitting in the corner eating the cookies they’ve earned from arguing on the internet is obsolete; as Indigenous Action Media put it, we need accomplices in resisting things as they stand, not allies.

Liberalism Is Not The Answer:
The guidelines for today’s marches globally is as follows:
* We are non-partisan, and will not use the Women’s March primarily to criticize politicians or political parties.
* We will use no violence (physical or verbal) towards any person.
* We will not destroy or damage property.
* We will promote a tone of respect, honesty, transparency, and accountability in our actions.
* We will not carry anything that can be construed as a weapon, nor possess (or consume) any alcohol or drugs.
* We will all hold each other accountable to respecting these agreements.

Frankly, this is a joke. Anyone who genuinely feels that following these sets of rules, by not breaking any laws, by not rebelling, is going to disrupt the Trump administration has absolutely no idea what kind of danger we are dealing with here – this of course would be the same if it were a Clinton administration. It is astonishing that a protest deliberately called the day after Trump has been inaugurated as president is calling that this march is not used primarily to criticize politicians or political parties. It is the politicians that are going to see women die at the hands of the misogynist state; it is politicians saying it is ok to ‘grab them by the pussy’, and the organisers seem to think that an appropriate reaction to this is to ‘promote a tone of respect, honesty, transparency, and accountability in our actions’. We’re not saying that these are necessarily bad things or things that we wouldn’t like to see more of but they are a miscalculated response.

Liberalism is not equipped to deal with the beast we are up against. Liberals seek to work within the framework that those in power have crafted to advance their own agenda. The system has been built, however, so that those who enter it are incapable of tearing it down; it is self preserving. Indeed anytime an attempt has been made to bring the system down from within what we have seen is it spitting out by the state of a group of once radical people who are now its biggest advocates.

US political regimes kill, they kill those who inhabit its own jurisdiction and those outside of it. It is about to step up its game against the poor, people of colour, LGBT and queer people, and of course women. A war on women's reproductive health care is in full swing in the US and it's only going to get worse, here in Ireland we know how dangerous this is. When abortion is made illegal it doesn't go away, it's only made unsafe, this combined with a crisis is a route to the death of women and other pregnant people at the hands of a misogynistic state. Can't you see how dangerous things are; how desperate the situation is? Responding within the framework laid out by the event organisers is not only senseless but it's reckless. That's right, it's the liberals who are reckless, not the black clad protestor breaking Starbucks windows. If I were Donald Trump I wouldn’t be worried in the slightest about a group of women – no matter how big – marching up to Washington, listening to a few speeches, and then going home.

What liberals fail to understand is that non-violence as a principle does not work. As a tactic it is used to bring those who do not suffer a particular oppression on board with your campaign, and even at that its success rate will vary. Stokely Carmichael put it well when he said:
“Dr. King's policy was that nonviolence would achieve the gains for black people in the United States. His major assumption was that if you are nonviolent, if you suffer, your opponent will see your suffering and will be moved to change his heart. That's very good. He only made one fallacious assumption: In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.”
Systems of oppression only loosen their grip when the knife is at its throat, liberalism reinforces systems of oppression, it’s time it is abandoned as a potential route for change.

In solidarity with all women who have been left behind by the event organisers, and all those who suffer at the hands of the US political regime and all other oppressive regimes (including our own) we will be marching today.