Upon Hearing that Pro-Lifers are Not Welcome at the Women's March on Washington

1/18/17

I bought the t-shirt.

I mean, of course I did. Have you seen it? It’s perfect.

But then after I ordered it I found out it wouldn’t be arriving until after Inauguration Day and after the march itself, and I straight up reversed my order. Thirty bucks is a lot in this family.

Turns out it was the right move anyway, because you don’t want my support.
source: Teespring

This morning my friend Alissa wrote a great post about the importance of not retreating back to our safe spaces filled only with people who think and vote exactly like us, but instead to sit in the diversity, in the differences of opinion, and learn to constructively engage in dialogue there. It’s a conversation I’m having with my “real life” friends too and it’s a critical one in these times, but it doesn’t come naturally to me at all. Does it to any of us?

It was in her blog post that I heard about the decision of the Women’s March on Washington to not accept groups with pro-life convictions, no matter that they self-identify as feminists. Pro-life women cannot be feminists, you protested. Restrictions on reproductive choices is mysogynistic you insisted. It’s all part of the patriarchal scheme to keep women down, you all agreed.

Disappointed is too light a word to describe what I felt.

Look, this ain’t my first rodeo: I am well aware that pro-choice and feminism generally go hand in hand. And I get it, really I do. I am painfully aware of the horrendous circumstances that often contribute to the felt need for abortions, which is why I am almost never publicly vocal about it. You won’t find me protesting outside an abortion clinic, I find the public display of photographs of mangled baby bodies entirely abhorrent (for many reasons), and I’ve been writing about social issues online for two years without once broaching the subject.

But there’s a fine line between respecting the complexities of others’ experiences and letting my own intelligence be called into question, and so today I feel the need to speak out.


Can pro-life rhetoric and even legislation be tools of the patriarchy to exert control over women? Absolutely. Are they inherently that? No. Women of sound mind, women with fiery opinions, women who stay abreast of social issues and matters of justice – women like myself and many, many others – can come to their own conclusions about when life begins and whether anyone has the right to end it. Women are fully capable of thinking deeply and open-mindedly on this issue and still come to a different conclusion than you.

Rejecting the idea that intelligent women may in fact disagree on important social issues is essentially rejecting the very tenants of feminism: that we are damned smart, strong, opinionated, and capable of everything that men are, including our own understanding of ethics. Claiming that any women who disagree with you are witless victims of a patriarchal system demeans the intelligence of the very women you say you are fighting for.

I understand that you’re positioned to lose ground in reproductive rights under the Trump administration and at this point it feels like anyone who isn’t with you is against you. But listen: women like me, the kind of women who would go to a march on Washington the day after this inauguration, don’t want this president anymore than you do, I promise you that. We didn’t vote for his sorry ass and we know he just stood on the pro-life platform to get the nomination.

We don’t want a president who rates women on a scale of 1-10, who describes his daughter as hot, who blames his inability to answer a debate moderator on the assumption that she’s on her period. We don’t want a president who openly brags about trying to sleep with a married woman and we certainly don’t want one who brags about using his celebrity as grounds for sexually assaulting women, and then can’t even fake a decent apology for it. We don’t want a president who won’t work for equal pay for women or one whose rhetoric incites aggression towards those wearing a head covering.

We see that men like Trump are one of the reasons women get abortions in the first place. We want to protest this sleaze bag as much as you do. And we have every right to do so.

Women, this is no time to let our differences pit us against one another. Generally speaking, we’re more gifted in civil discourse, empathy, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal dialogue than are our male counterparts. (Which is why we need a female president for a change.) Our country needs us to be united. Our children need us to model respectful dialogue and disagreement within unity. Now is not the time for woke people to be divided; now is the time to find common ground and respect, and it can start with us feminists.

(Updated: I wrote this an hour after hearing the drama go down and seeing press releases from the march organizers. After the dust settled over the next day or two, I saw a lot of inclusivity from pro-choicers, even some who were helping organize the march. Had I not been getting a new tattoo that day ;) I would have gone to the one nearest me. As it was, I loved seeing photos of friends from all across the life/choice spectrum at the marches! True beauty, love, and unity.)


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Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)

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