On Jan. 21, millions of people protested in Women’s Marches across the world. Ten days later, students gathered in Civic House to discuss the impact of the movement.
Penn Association for Gender Equity and Civic House co-sponsored the open forum titled “Deconstructing the March” Tuesday night. The hour-long event sought to generate discussion on the successes and shortcomings of the Women’s Marches, which have been criticized for lacking inclusivity and focusing on the experiences of white cisgender women.
The forum called on its attendees to discuss these criticisms and develop strategies for activism moving forward.
Shortly after the event began, students split into small groups to discuss their views on the Women’s March movement.
One group discussed the presence of police at the Washington march. Some thought the absence of violence and the amicable interactions between police and protesters were significant as a symbol of unity, while others said this atmosphere resulted from the movement’s focus on white women.
PAGE Programming Co-Chair Divya Rao said that she thought it was important to provide a forum for people with different reactions to the movement to discuss their perspectives.
“I think it’s very important that we keep this conversation going of how to stay involved and how to stay active and include people as much as possible,” she said.
College sophomore Megan Paik said she thought the event was valuable but worried some people in the discussions might hold back questions if they feared sounding uninformed.
“In a way it was enlightening because I heard perspectives from people I normally didn’t interact with, but in another sense I feel like … people come to these discussions and not fully say what they’re actually thinking,” she said.
Other students at the discussion commented on the pink “pussyhats” worn by protesters at the Women’s March. Some were concerned that the hats were not inclusive of transgender women, while others cited the importance of the hats as a symbol of unified opposition to President Donald Trump.
At the end of the event, students talked about the importance of political participation and activism on campus. College sophomore Lara Jung said she appreciated her group’s discussion of ways to reach out to peers who are less politically active.
“My group specifically talked about making sure that we were talking to people who were ‘apolitical,’” she said. “And, how do you approach people who don’t necessarily see eye to eye with you when you believe so strongly in something.”
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