Afarin Majidi: Why the Women’s March Was an Epic Failure

Afarin Majidi is an Iranian-American writer. She holds a BA in English Literature from Barnard College and an MFA in Fiction Writing from New School University. Writing and Madness in a Time of Terror is her debut memoir. Her novel-in-progress, Ziba, is set in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.

 

As soon as the infantilizing pink “pussy hats” started selling on Facebook, I knew the Women’s March had been co-opted and dismantled. But even I was not prepared for the spectacle that drew millions of American women, many of them Trump supporters. In interviews on CNN, these women said they came because their feminist values didn’t conflict with the President’s agenda. They also came, they said, because they are women, as if the only requisite to join a women’s movement is to be born with a vagina.

In other dark corners, Hillary devotees seized the event as a chance to vent the “unjust” failure of her campaign. These women (cough, feminists) completely ignored the fact that Clinton and her pundits stole the Democratic Party’s nomination from Bernie Sanders, whose policies would have been far more beneficial to American women. He also would’ve won the presidency.

Both Trump and Hillary supporters seemed oblivious as to why the Women’s March on Washington had been organized in the first place. They certainly didn’t seem aware that one of the founders was Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a convict. No one knew about her violent past until much later and the revelation only served to discredit intersectional feminists far and wide. As an Iranian-American Muslim who’s been punished for her identity since 9/11, I’d put my hopes in this outspoken woman, not knowing she’d been imprisoned in Israeli after being found guilty of a bombing that killed several Israelis. Many have said that she was prosecuted unfairly, but her branding only hurt inters-sectional feminists.

Even before Odeh’s past became public, American women began distancing themselves from the Women’s March because of what the inter-sectional feminist speakers at the event demanded: an end to the War on Terror and an end to racial injustice. When it became clear that the hatless women in the crowd preached equality for all women, not just white women, it was over for the selfie-taking blondes dressed all in pink. And when the movement they’d crashed began to challenge apartheid in Israel, they distanced themselves from ever having attended the March. Why? Clearly, because the media has succeeded in brainwashing the masses into ascribing anti-Semitism to all Palestinian and Muslim rights causes.

As if to throw salt on the wounds of feminists of color, the film Wonder Woman was released only weeks after the dreadful March. The star of the film, Gal Godot, a former Israeli soldier, was praised by mainstream social critics as a feminist while more honest publications discussed how problematic Godot’s identity was, especially being that her black female co-stars stood as silent as props for most of the film.

2017’s Wonder Woman was depressing for inter-sectional feminists. Meanwhile, white-feminism ascribing women taunted us for being too PC (huge contradiction). In short, we were told to accept our place in the racial divide and stay mute in the shadows.

You’d think I’d be used to it by now, an Iranian-American writer living in a country in which the publishing industry and media continue to churn out inflammatory stories to incite hatred against Muslims while blaming Trump for all Islamophobic attacks that have clearly been happening well before he even ran for president. I’m used to it, yes, but I refuse to accept the media’s gaslighting.

I’m not surprised that the Women’s March proved to be a complete embarrassment, just as I’m not surprised that white feminists continue to suppress and censor inter-sectional feminists out of fear. What I am surprised about is that I’m still hopeful. I know I’ll see the day when women of color shed their love of large turnouts and nods of approval from the left. I know we’ll pick up where the March left off. We need to cultivate local, grass roots movements in every corner of this country. We need to get our voices heard no matter how many times they tell us to shut us up. We are not irrelevant. They are.