By Leila A. McNeill
Yesterday morning, I made a commitment to myself to limit my social media intake for very real mental health reasons. Though I want to stay informed about what is happening with the impending ascension of the Manchurian Candidate, I need to also take care of myself lest I spend my days crying in bed and being of use to no one. I decided to work on my sign for the Women’s March next week—a tiny act of resistance that gives me some sense of pleasure.
But, Chait’s gon Chait.
I’ve seen many men on social media express a problem with the “branding” of the march, saying it’s not inclusive to men. Enough now.
This accusation of exclusive branding has been leveled against this very publication. Even men in my life who I love and love me have admitted they don’t read Lady Science because they thought it was only for women. Women have also urged us to change our name because it is not gender neutral or gender inclusive. We don’t make any apologies for naming this publication what it is; it is run by women and it centers the interests of women.
We have spent our entire lives and academic careers reading work written by men and about the lives of historical men, and we were made to believe that it was all gender neutral. Apparently, things are only gender neutral or inclusive when men are the most visible, and women are pushed to the margins.
The same subtext runs through men’s complaints about the Women’s March. The March was championed and organized by women who are outraged that the man who will be our next president mocks disabled people, vilifies immigrants, promises to take away Roe v Wade, grabs women by the genitals, and denigrates gay, lesbian, and transgender people by choosing a VP who believes in conversion therapy. The interests of intersectional feminism are most certainly centered in this march and are reflected by the powerful women of color organizing it. This isn’t a blanket anti-everything Trump march; this is a march that amplifies the rights and needs of those who will be most vulnerable in a Trump era. And if I’m being honest, I don’t trust a straight white man to organize such a march.
Men, I understand your frustration in not being able to see yourselves represented in the name or the faces of the organizers. This is the same frustration, and even anger, I have lived with my entire life. I have been forced to find my heroes on the margins as extra-curricular reading, and to rally behind leaders in whom I could not see myself reflected. Yet, I rallied.
If you find yourself turning away from a historic event because it is named specifically to reflect the gender of the organizers and their interests, the problem is you. Insisting that the Women’s March be rebranded so you specifically feel included only serves to silence women, pushing them and the interests of the most vulnerable back to the margins.
White and male no longer get to be neutral.
Chait, organize your own damn march.