The Pussy Hat

In the lead up to the Women’s March last weekend, Pussy Hats were a thing. Women and men unified in the quest for pink yarn, a set of needles or a hook, and set out to make pink hats with little points on top.

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A sea of pink decorated the marches. Samantha Bee joked that if you want to get white women unified in a cause, you should just give them a craft. (I think there’s some truth to this statement; it’s not just a satirical comment.) I did set about making a pussy hat, but didn’t finish. So instead, I wore my pink Mickey Mouse/Cheshire Cat ears. I figured that a literal pussy hat would suffice to represent. I’m still going to finish the hat, and I’m still going to wear it with pride.

Before the march, a couple blogs were sent out about how the pink hats were in fact acts of gender normalization. In one article, author Holly Derr writes,

Not to rain golden showers down on the pussy parade, but I’m not sure that pink, cat-eared hats are a great symbol for the largest women’s march in years. The infantilizing kitten imagery combined with a stereotypically feminine color feels too safe and too reductive to be an answer to the complex issues facing women today. For example, while the March claims intersectionality as central to its platform, and the Pussyhat Project claims to be speaking for both cis- and transgender individuals, the latter’s conception of what it means to be a woman is remarkably narrow.

Which, of course, gave me pause. I’m no fan of pink, because I do feel that it is overused as a color of girlhood, but I am a huge fan of having animal ears on my hats. The accusation of this being both infantalizing and stereotypical is a fair assessment, and was that something I wanted to endorse?

She goes on to write,

Furthermore, the Pussyhat Project is engaging in a form of gender essentialism, which asserts that the gendered characteristics of femininity are directly linked to the biological characteristics of femaleness and, specifically, the presence of a vagina. This binary is one that feminists have fought against for years, arguing instead that femininity is a social construction assigned to femaleness and that females can be feminine or masculine or any combination of the two, as can males.

Gender has become a tricky conversation, and it’s one that I honestly can’t discuss. I’m  comfortable with my gender and sex, and American culture rewards me for also being willing to play within certain expected norms (such as being straight, a mother, and willing to wear a dress). This has afforded me a place of privilege. But I have enough compassion and empathy in my heart to know that the struggles of many of my friends and family are real…but I can only provide sympathy as an outsider. That’s a difficult place to have to reside.

So what message do I want to send with the Pussy Hat? I like the fact that they’re pink and distinctive. This means that they’ll stand out. Imagine, now that the march is over, seeing a woman wearing this hat. It’s like a call to solidarity. When I was driving up the New Jersey Turnpike on my way home from the march, I would see women in line for the bathroom, and it was like, “Yep. We’re in this together.” And, for me, the issues we’re marching to protect aren’t just those for women. They are the issues of common sense and compassion that will have an impact on EVERYONE. To reduce the hates down to a gender issue ignores the larger message that they’re trying to send. Plus, it ignores the fact that women chose to do this. This is how women chose to express themselves: by throwing stereotypes back into the face of the people who reduce them to stereotypes.

What are your thoughts on the hats and what message they send?

I also see something else in the hats. I see pink Bat Hats. Yep, like Batman.

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So, I’m going to be like Batman, and be the vigilante hero America deserves.

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The Women’s March

I’ve never done anything like this before, gathering in a protest. Sure, I’ve been plenty pissed off about things, but nothing ever quite ignited the fire like this recent election. Judging by the number of folks I saw in Washington, DC, this weekend, their fires have been ignited too. 

There’s a lot of rhetoric around the march that it and the entire of the New Women’s Movement is about protesting Donald Trump. That’s far from the truth. It’s about protesting a president who continues to make abusive comments about non-white men, a culture that accepted the abuse by voting for him, and a cabinet full of folks that have all mentioned wanting to repeal some facet of equal rights. 

We’ve accepted a lot since 9/11, and all Americans have been suffering. Obama made some progress and headway in trying to make things better, but was met with so much opposition that nothing ever passed that was perfect for everyone. Someone was still going to get hurt. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that there was support for a candidate who promised change rather than more of the same–that’s what got Obama elected the first time. 

But now, politicians are promising to target certain groups and rights, leaving enough of us marginalized. 

This is the first time in my lifetime that there’s been this much energy behind a cause. Even Occupy pales in comparison. We just couldn’t say no. We had to be involved. We have to do something.

When I first heard of the march, I knew I had to go. Specifically, I had to go to the one in Washington. So I did. I was joined by a friend from Pacifica and his wife. He’s been an activist a lot longer than I have–I think he said his first march was 1963–but remarked that this was by far the largest one he has ever seen.

The rally started with some excellent speeches and events. The crowd was larger than expected. The organizers kept doing speeches in an attempt to convert the event into a rally. Except that they didn’t tell anyone that is what they were doing. So people just started marching. The set route went by the wayside. People walked over the Mall, the Washington Monument, the buildings around the Mall, streets… the crowd just made it happen.

And everyone stayed groovy. I was worried at one point that people were going to lose their cool, because they didn’t know about the change of plans. It also seemed in the moment of confusion that we didn’t know how to make the march start. Yet the energy of the March and the Movement couldn’t be contained. It carried us forward. 

I’ll make another post about some of the stuff I posted on Facebook and share my photos. But for now, let me say one thing:

I’m grateful that I felt called to be a representative for all of us, and I promise to continue doing the work. It is my hope that, regardless of political beliefs or religious convictions, we can can unify around the good of humanity, for the entire planet. Our decisions and actions today will impact generations to come. Our decisions and actions today know no national borders, have little respect for personal security, and really could give a damn about your moral values.

Joseph Campbell once told Bill Moyers that the most important myth of our era is that of the planet. That includes all her people, the environment, and her physical geography. Let’s unite in love, and not be assholes.

More to come…