The 2019 Women’s March: privileging victimhood and the power of class

The first Women’s March in Washington DC, January 21, 2017. (Photo: Getty Images)
While the Women’s March of 2017 was an expression of unity across many issues, the 2019 Women’s March has struggled with accusations of anti-Semitism.

By Alice Rothchild | Mondoweiss |  Jan 22, 2019

 It has become clearer and clearer to many Jewish activists and their allies that if we are working for equal rights for all, if we are condemning racism, anti-semitism and Islamophobia, if we are working to create safe societies for women, if we are working against gun violence, then Zionism becomes increasingly problematic.

Over the weekend I rallied and marched in one of Seattle’s two women’s marches, with speeches from indigenous and immigrant communities, the Washington Poor People’s Campaign, Dreamers, and religious figures. We chanted to end the school to prison pipeline and the building of an expensive youth jail, to fund education, healthcare, housing, gun control, and to end the government shutdown. We gave our support to transpeople and Native Peoples especially Missing and Murdered Indigenous women, to saving our environment, to welcoming immigrants, and fighting racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia, and “toxic masculinity.” The day celebrated inclusivity and cross-sectional political organizing led by “womxn” and marginalized communities. “Women are the Wall and Trump will Pay!”

The Women’s March in 2017, following the inauguration of the most sexist, racist, and dangerous president in the U.S., was the largest single day demonstration in our history. Despite all the expressions of unity, two years and many marches and outrages later, much has been written about this 2019 Women’s March and the angry schisms around accusations of anti-Semitism. This has resulted in the loss of endorsements, the organizing of competing marches, and an enormous amount of public handwringing, along with calls for the resignations of the leadership and the weakening of the movement. At the same time, Jewish women have been exhorted to march in unity with the original Women’s March and the organizers talk about establishing a “platform on which truly progressive candidates can run and win in 2020.”

As I sort through the fractious messiness of this intersectional, (cross color and class), organizing effort, where smart, powerful, thoughtful women have done difficult and inspiring work, and made their share of mistakes as well, (reminding me that if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t make anything), certain themes emerge.

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