by Alissa Wolf
During the recent second annual Women’s March, a great many conservatives once again worked overtime to disparage and belittle the marchers. For days on end, the largely male naysayers peppered social media with a myriad of scathingly misogynistic threads and comments that ranged from laughable to downright belligerent.
Among the examples that I took note of during hours-long observations of Facebook included:
“Get back in the kitchen and make me a sammich.”
“Hundreds of thousands of cats are being neglected today.”
“You are nothing but a pathetic bunch of fat, ugly, man-hating feminazi bitches who are just pissed because Hillary lost.”
Many women also expressed outrage toward the marchers. A number of them commented that those who participated are a disgrace to the female gender. “You make me ashamed to be a woman!” huffed one sanctimonious Trump supporter.
Meanwhile, a great many men marched alongside women this year. Upon attending the Philadelphia event, I noticed that at least one third of the participants were males who were there to support their wives, girlfriends and female relatives, and to express their shared political views. But the critics claimed that the guys were just there to "pick up chicks," although they opined that the pickings must have been slim because only unattractive women attend these events.
In a nutshell, the overall erroneous perception among the detractors was that those who marched were just a bunch of homely, bitter, crazy cat ladies who aimlessly marauded through the streets donning vagina costumes because we had nothing better to do.
For me personally, the most disheartening and maddening misconceptions were that those of us who participated didn’t even know what we were marching for, and that women in the U.S. in particular have all of the rights and privileges that we could ever hope for.
So I am here to set the record straight about why we marched, and what we truly stand for.
What SJWPC Stands for, and What We Do
South Jersey Women for Progressive Change is just one of the many liberal political groups to form within the last year in response to the current disquieting political climate.
As we explain on our website, “Formed in 2016, SJWPC is an 8,000-member action network for intersectional grassroots advocacy and activism, open to all who identify as female or were assigned female at birth. Our work focuses on ensuring strong democratic processes and racial justice, as well as progressive policies in education, the economy, healthcare, housing and the environment.” You can view our core platform here.
And we don’t just talk the talk. We walk the walk via our many coalitions, programs and events through which we address and take action in regard to issues within our platform.
In a nutshell:
We support like-minded candidates who run for office, and hold those who are already in office accountable by attending freeholder meetings, town halls and other political gatherings where we make our voices heard. We also host Meet the Candidate events via our Political Engagement activities.
In addition, SJWPC is very active in immigration and racial justice reform. For one, our Racial Justice Action Group hosts monthly study groups to determine solutions to overcoming racial oppression. Our Immigration Action Group supports legislation that aids beleaguered immigrant communities, among other activities.
These are just some of the many things we stand for and what we do.
Marching to the Polls and Into Office
One aspect of the 2018 Women’s March that really resonated with me and many other like-minded women and men was an increased emphasis on getting out the vote via the movement's #Power to the Polls agenda.
The 2018 flagship march held in Nevada marked the official kickoff of national voter registration and mobilization drives geared toward encouraging more people to get to the polls during all elections, registering new voters and turning swing and red states blue.
One dramatic example of the difference women can make at the polls was the December 2017 special Senate election held in Alabama. Alleged pedophile and openly racist Republican Roy Moore was roundly defeated when he ran against progressive Democrat Doug Jones in this deepest of deep red states. This stunning upset was largely attributable to the record turnout of progressive black female voters.
In addition, the movement encourages women, men and marginalized people who share our values to run for office, and tirelessly supports progressive candidates. In fact, a record number of women have run for office in the year since the first Women's March. According to a report in Time magazine, in 2017 an astounding 26,000 women reached out to Democratic women's advocacy group Emily's List to inquire about running for office, compared to 900 in 2015 and 2016.
So we and other groups that share our values and visions are very much aware of the power we have at the voting booth and via running for office. And we work diligently to harness that power on an ongoing basis.
'What Rights Don't You Have?'
Another frustrating misconception shared by many conservative men and women is that American women have nothing to complain about, because we enjoy unlimited freedom and rights.
However, women in this country still make less money than men for the same work. Plus, our reproductive rights are currently under siege due to the vociferous Christian conservatives' pro-life movement, which seeks to severely infringe upon our bodily autonomy when it comes to abortion and general health care.
Last but certainly not least, progressive activists have given rise to the powerful #MeToo and Time's Up movements, which for the first time in history has forced our society to address sexual harassment and assault, and harshly deal with the perpetrators.
So not only do we know why we march and what we stand for, we stand up and fight for the rights, liberty and well being of all people who share our values and visions. And we don't just do so one day a year via taking to the streets. We do so all year long, with powerful results. To our detractors, I say, "We will not be silenced. And you ain't seen nothin' yet!"