Identity politics requires each constituent group to be politically unified. In this way, activists can claim to speak in the name of a given oppressed identity group.
Feminism has always had a problem with this unity. The woman’s movement claims to represent all oppressed women everywhere. However, Christians, pro-life women, homeschooling mothers, and other women break that political unity and don’t want to be represented. The embarrassing truth is that the most vocal opponents of feminism are “oppressed” women.
Now it seems that even the unity inside the feminist movement is unraveling. This fissure can be seen by looking at the current struggle over the running of the “Women’s March,” set to occur on the second anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration this January.
The Nasty Women’s March
The first Women’s March took place the day after the presidential inauguration in Washington on January 21, 2017. It was started by Theresa Shook, a retired lawyer in Hawaii, whose agonized Facebook posting on the night of President Trump’s election served as a catalyst for feminists to organize a massive protest. Crowd estimates varied widely. The media reported a huge crowd – probably comparable to the immense crowds at the unreported March for Life a few days later.
The level of vitriol and hatred was high, some of it too vulgar to be printed here. However, one speech by actress Ashley Judd stood out. As quoted in the New York Times, the activist called upon those present to give birth to “new generations of filthy, vulgar, nasty, proud, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, you name it, for new generations of nasty women.”
Apparently, within this revolution, “nasty” is good.
Considering the 2017 event a success, its organizers echoed it in 2018 with a smaller turnout. Another march is planned for 2019 in New York City. Its organizers hope that the recent elections and rage over the appointment of Justice Kavanagh will bring out large numbers of “nasty” women.
The Struggle to Control the March Gets Nasty
However, in the race to represent oppressed women everywhere, things have unexpectedly turned nasty. Two similarly named groups claim to be the rightful keepers of this particular flame – The Women’s March Alliance and Women’s March, Inc. Each claims to be the official mouthpiece of embattled women everywhere. Each wants to dominate the march. They are now engaged in a shouting match of nasty women, in which one group is calling into question the revolutionary credentials of the other.
At the center of the chaos is the behavior of a board member of Women’s March, Inc., Linda Sarsour. A Muslim raised in Brooklyn, Ms. Sarsour has established herself as a sharia-certified feminist activist. Her work has brought her into association with the head of the Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan – who has earned a reputation as a virulent anti-Semite. When given the opportunity recently, Ms. Sarsour refused to denounce Mr. Farrakhan or his controversial anti-Israel stands.
Another Women’s March, Inc. board member, Carmen Perez, vocally supported her associate’s stand. In 2016, she had expressed her own support for “Minister” Farrakhan, saying that she was “really grateful for the minister and his support of the Justice League…knowing we have the support of the Nation of Islam, who’s constantly showing up for us and we’re here to serve as well.”
The problem is that many supporters of the Women’s March are of Jewish background. They have an understandable objection to supporting anyone who supports Mr. Farrakhan. Theresa Shook has demanded that Linda Sarsour resign, stating that she and her supporters on the Women’s March, Inc. board “have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs.”2 Mrs. Sarsour has thus far refused to resign.
Actress Alyssa Milano thrust herself into the controversy when she pulled her support from the march, stating, “Any time that there is any bigotry or anti-Semitism in that respect, it needs to be called out and addressed. I’m disappointed in the leadership of the Women’s March that they haven’t done it adequately.”
Women’s March, Inc.’s communications director Cassady Fendlay, went on the attack. “Alyssa is acting in accordance with the tradition of white women who use the labor of women of color when it’s convenient for them, and then use their power to trash these women when it becomes expedient….in an attempt to force women of color to do exactly what she wants them to do.” She went on to argue that, “Milano and all the white women lined up behind her are actually enforcing the power of white supremacy ….”
Throughout history, revolutionaries tend to radicalize as a means of energizing their base.
The Left’s Seismic Flaw
The current struggle for control of the Women’s March is only the most public expression of the dynamism of revolutionary movements.
Throughout history, revolutionaries tend to radicalize as a means of energizing their base. They do this by revealing part of their hidden agenda that often scandalize those who are more moderate. Thus, the feminists that have long limited their discourse to women’s rights and other issues, now reveal itself in sync all the most radical causes including Islam.
Such radicalism reveals a vulnerable side of the women movement. First, it shows that the movement is not monolithic and is divided. It cannot claim to be the mouthpiece of all oppressed women because its activists are involved in a brawl among themselves. They cannot get their own act together, much less change the world. Conservatives should capitalize on this development to dismantle the myth of feminist power and show how weak the aging movement actually is.
Secondly, the movement is forced to reveal their hidden goals. Anti-feminists can more easily point to the shocking support of feminist for Islam and other leftist causes as a means of energizing their grassroots. They can show that these feminist goals are contrary to American values.
Finally, the feminist brawl shows the travesty of identity politics. Feminist identity politics now has an identity crisis. At this point, the only thing the two groups have in common is nastiness.
Edwin Benson writes for Return to Order, which is edited by John Horvat.