Francesca Bitton is a senior international studies major.
We are living in a time when solidarity among women is rare—where women often tear each other down, rather than support each other’s rights or views. Solidarity does not mean that we all must see eye-to-eye on every issue. Rather, it means that we hold each other up when others are trying to bring us down. In the case of the Women’s March, this meant letting pro-life women join flanks for the very reason that we are all women. In a time where our new administration seems to be going low, we need women to go high.
The Women’s March brought millions together to advocate for women’s rights. It also brought nearly as many condemnations, not only from men, but from women as well. Many women felt that there was no place for pro-life advocates at the march. Since reproductive issues were a part of the march, pro-life women also wanted the opportunity to march for their beliefs.
The march was to address the plethora of injustices that women face––because if you’re a woman, you’re not facing just one singular injustice in today’s American society. This proves especially true for women of color, women with disabilities, and anyone in the LGBTQ+ community. Thus, the purpose of the March was not to promote a pro-choice agenda, but it was for women to speak about their own views and rights: rights that they feel are lacking or nonexistent.
For a march to represent a variety of women’s issues, it also needs to encompass and accept diverse womanly ideas. If women who identified with the pro-life movement wanted to go out and protest against abortion practices, then I don’t see why they couldn’t. The Women’s March was comprised of women speaking out for their rights, so if being against abortions is something certain women want or believe, then this was the march for them.
For too long, women have been invisible in the political process, having decisions and laws made for them by men who do not understand the daily trials of women. Women marched so that other women could have self-determination, including the option to decide their reproductive health. We can disagree on the morality of Planned Parenthood or contraception, but the fact that women went out to march for something that they believed in is momentous––especially in a nation that has had a history of leaving women out of the policy making process and discourse.
This does not mean I want my reproductive rights taken away—I very much want and need the right to choose what is best for my own body, but I support any woman’s right to free speech and self-determination. If women continue to allow certain issues to tear them apart, we might as well return to the 1950’s, where our only career option was to stay in the home.
For women to have varying opportunities, we need to be there to support the possibility of those opportunities and to stand in solidarity amongst one another so that we can continue to demand civil and human rights. It is when women do not stand in solidarity with each other that we all suffer.
Photo Courtesy of Cody Williams/ Flickr