“March with one of them. But march.”
— Gloria Steinem, responding to news that there would be competing women’s marches in New York City
Days after the 2016 election, a small group of women — alarmed by the impending Trump presidency — got together at a New York restaurant to plan a demonstration. What resulted from that meeting, and many others like it, was the largest single-day protest in United States history, the Women’s March, which took place in about 600 American cities and towns and on every continent in the world in January 2017.
It was an event that served as a catalyst for political change, helping to inspire a record number of women to run for office.
No social justice movement is without conflict, and disagreements around the Women’s March were there from the start: Should the march include anti-abortion women? Were the needs and priorities of women of color overshadowed by the priorities of white women? What about transgender women?
On the eve of the third annual Women’s March — which will take place Saturday — charges of infighting and anti-Semitism are hanging over the event. At least one march has been canceled, in California; and in New York, two competing marches are taking place, their leaders at odds.
Whether or not you’re planning to march on Saturday, here’s a breakdown of what’s been happening and what to expect.
Charges of anti-Semitism
In both articles, Vanessa Wruble, a Brooklyn-based activist and an early leader of the Women’s March, says her Jewish heritage played a role in her being pushed out of the group — charges that Tamika Mallory and Bob Bland, presidents of the national Women’s March, have vehemently denied.
Mallory has also been criticized for expressing support for Louis Farrakhan, who has been widely condemned for making anti-Semitic, as well as transphobic and sexist, remarks. (Mallory has said she disagrees with some of Farrakhan’s statements.)
Linda Sarsour, another one of the march’s co-chairs, has expressed solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli occupation. On the allegation that the group did not address concerns of anti-Semitism fast enough, she said: “Give us a chance.”
Calls for a leadership change
In recent weeks, Jewish groups and Teresa Shook — the first person to suggest the idea of a women’s march in a 2016 Facebook post — have called for the resignations of the leaders of the national movement: Mallory, Bland, Sarsour and Carmen Perez.
Regional chapters of the Women’s March, civil rights groups and high-profile allies — including the Democratic Party, which until recently was listed as a supporter on the Women’s March website — have distanced themselves from the national entity. On Thursday, Women’s March Global, a group that organizes marches around the world, sent out an email underscoring that it had never been affiliated with the national Women’s March.
Meanwhile, even the name “Women’s March” is causing conflict, with four organizations suing the national Women’s March organization over its efforts to trademark it.
“It was never meant to belong to one group,” Wruble said. “It was a movement. And it should remain a movement.”
So what should I expect if I’m marching?
The schism has resulted in two competing marches in New York: one led by the national Women’s March, which is billed as being led by women of color, and the other being organized by a group called the Women’s March Alliance, which is stressing its denunciation of anti-Semitism.
The two groups discussed unifying in recent months, but the conversations broke down.
Elsewhere, it seems that the protest on Saturday will go forth without much of a hitch, though fewer attendees are expected.
The national group’s agenda this year is to transform its principles into policy at the state and federal levels — namely, advocating for the rights of immigrant women, the disabled and the L.G.B.T.Q. community, as well as ensuring pay equity. This year’s hashtag: #WomensWave.
Like previous years, the central event will take place in Washington, beginning at 10 a.m. at the National Mall.
According to the national Women’s March’s website, more than 100 marches are planned in cities around the U.S. and countries around the world, including Madagascar, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Bulgaria and Israel.
By the numbers
That is how much less women who work for Citigroup earn than their male counterparts. Citibank employees of color earn 7 percent less than their white counterparts. The stat came from an unlikely source: Citigroup itself, which became the first bank in the United States to publish evidence of its gender pay gap.
More from The Times
“Our goal is to get to 40 percent diversity.” The percentage of minorities and women in the boardrooms of public companies has edged up in the past two years, but white men continue to dominate. [The New York Times]
“It is certainly more than 2,737.” Thousands more migrant children were likely separated from their families at the border than officially reported. [The New York Times]
“Is this the best a man can get?” In a new ad, Gillette presented examples of toxic masculinity, drawing celebrity praise and calls for a boycott. [The New York Times]
“By our 70s, we’ve had decades to develop resilience.” For women, there is an amazing calculus in old age. [New York Times Opinion]
“Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom.” A never-before-published Sylvia Plath story became available this month. [The New York Times]
Overlooked no more. At a time when many needy families lacked adequate nutrition, Isabelle Kelley developed a food stamp program to feed millions. [The New York Times]
From the archives, 1858: ‘How deadly stupid and insipid she is at 18’
In 1858, The Times published a piece that railed against the proliferation of girls’ schools and griped about the “evils” of educating girls.
“What an amazing sight is the spectacle of a stupidish girl of 12 or 14 going through her course!” the piece proclaimed.
Education, it said, should be reserved for those who are smart enough to apply it to a greater career (i.e.: men). Girls, by contrast, should learn “to speak and write English correctly, and to read it aloud and fluently. Next, to do plain needlework … the most feminine of occupations.”
What might motivate girls to be as enthusiastic about sewing as learning history and math? Prizes for fixing holes in socks, of course!
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