It is interesting to listen to a man explain away the Women’s March as “a hissy fit of epic proportions.” I can only imagine the response I would get from the men I know if I were to sum up the male sex drive or masculinity in such a manner. I am certain that many of them would say, “And you would know this, how exactly? Oh, that’s right — you’re not a man.” The dismissive mockery used to put down this movement is how the term “mansplain” came about and is the very reason women are marching in the first place. To claim that women have no reason to march or to be upset is to show how grossly ill-informed you are — or it may just be that your bias is showing.
Either way, something has gone fundamentally wrong in this country. It is safe to say that if women were represented in Congress they probably wouldn’t be marching, and the same could probably be said for rural Americans, LGBTQ, and minorities. People are not being listened to, heard, or given representation and are growing more and more restless and angry — and as a result are being driven to protest in greater numbers or support more extreme politicians with extreme views. I’m certain that if women controlled 80 percent of Congress, women wouldn’t be so angry — though if they did what men do, men might be.
Anymore this country resembles warring tribes rather than a united republic of 50 states, where neighbors are seen as enemies and politics is a zero-sum-game of “if they win, I lose.” It’s not supposed to be this way, and it wouldn’t be if Congress was doing what it’s supposed to be doing. That doesn’t mean everyone would get what they want but it would mean the system would be fair.
It started in the 1990s when Newt Gingrich and House Republicans started engaging in “politics as warfare.” The mentality of winning at all costs has led the Republican Party to become more extreme and to force more extreme views without any care for anyone else. We saw it with the Tea Party, and we see it now with Donald Trump. In politics, winning at all costs means that the stakes get higher and the possibility for compromise diminishes, and all the while citizens are made fools of as they sit on the sidelines cheering for their team like it is a football game with no real consequences.
But there are consequences. After a battle has been won or lost, we suffer the consequences with no real say or influence in what has taken place but feel placated because our “issue” won.
Take the issue of National Monuments. Donald Trump had Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke do an assessment of 22 monuments and they took public comments. The comments were overwhelmingly in favor of national monuments, but rather than listening to the people, Trump listened to Utah politicians and corporate interests and ignored the people. That is not representative government. That is a CEO wielding his power, not a president working for the people. Government is not a business, and when it is run like one, the welfare of the people gets ignored — or worse, trammeled.
Politics is an art, not a science. It is supposed to be rigorous, difficult, and slow, because the decisions have real impacts on real people. Public policy, on the other hand, is like a science experiment on people. You come up with an idea, people agree with it and implement it, and then you watch to see how it plays out in peoples’ lives. Based on the results, you tweak it, amend it, or trash it. For this reason, politicking should be taken slowly and with care — and with compromise in mind, because not everyone can get what they want without infringing on the welfare of others. Politics has always been rather difficult, but it should never be warfare, because when it is, government is not working the way it is supposed to.
And that is what we have today.
Republicans have created a one-party system with their gerrymandering across the country. They can now run with confidence that they will not get beaten by the opposing party because they have drawn their districts in such a way as to pick their voters and guarantee victory — victory with as little as 17 percent of the vote. As a result, their only real threat is competition in the primaries by those within the party who have to be more extreme to win. When they are guaranteed a win, why do they need to listen to the people? They can just do the bidding of super PACs and corporate donors because the people have nothing real to offer and are no threat. Let’s hope Democrats don’t do the same; but who would blame them if they start to play by the new rules? They have certainly taken advantage of Citizens United, and we saw a touch of it during the government shutdown.
This, my friends, is why women are marching. This is why we have legislators denying birth control and abortion to women but doing nothing to the men who impregnate them and then removing the welfare that helps women survive when left with a baby — something I guess one wouldn’t understand if one isn’t one — a huge reason women got out and marched. Perhaps if we cut Viagra, we would see men get out and march.
The reason you are sick of hearing women rant about the system is because the system is rigged against them by those in power, which happens mostly to be men. If you really want to end protests, help make the system fair: Help ensure the needs of all people are met, help build a society where abortion is unthinkable, and ensure adequate representation for all. In other words, be a part of the solution.
As for conservative women not participating, many still support the issues. I have had many conservative friends share #metoo stories even though they don’t march or protest. And in terms of being too smart to engage, I don’t know that I would put it that way. There will always be women willing to work against their own best interests. There were women who were activists against women getting the right to vote — how smart is that? I wonder where we would be today if they had succeeded. I suppose Jason Gottfried might be spared witnessing a Women’s March because they would be jailed for doing so.
The women’s march is anything but a slap in the face to women or to feminists; that is plain hogwash. Not supporting women is the real slap in the face. The convenient part about movements for the passive bystanders is that even if you don’t agree or participate, you still reap the benefits without doing any of the hard work — which those smart non-participatory conservative women are reaping today. Even Jason may benefit from such movements if Utah ever gets some different representatives in office other than those from the predominant culture that he so eagerly opines about.
If you dislike liberals, that’s okay, but don’t undermine and dismiss real issues that you clearly do not understand nor empathize with. What you may try to understand is that usually when issues get fixed for women, it is because women make it happen. The women’s march this year is about the mid-term elections, which matter a great deal to people affected by those currently in office who have run roughshod over issues they care about. If those in power cared about all people and recognized that “women are individuals with varying beliefs, abilities, and opinions,” there would be no need to march in the first place, because all views would be represented in our democratic republic rather than denied, dismissed, or rejected.