A pink-spattered crowd congregated outside of Colorado Springs City Hall last Saturday afternoon for the annual Colorado Springs Womxn’s March. Although the turnout was modest compared to womxns marches in larger cities, spirits were high among the participants of varying gender identities and ages who sported signs with slogans like “nasty women make herstory” and wearing hand-sewn headgear affectionately nicknamed “pussy hats.” The throng marched on Tejon Street between City Hall and the All Souls Unitarian Church at the edge of the Colorado College campus, where the speaking portion of the day took place.
The speakers included members of the Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ community, a doctor, and several female politicians who are running for office at local, state, and federal levels in 2020. Mackensie Boyard, a trans woman who has lived in Colorado Springs for nine years, was among them. She took to the stage clothed in a white dress and flower crown and performed a spoken word poem about her transition. She described likening her operations as “just landscaping” to face the fears she was struggling with at the time.
“I think if anything, living in a conservative community just makes me more fierce and fired up,” she said about being a trans person in Colorado Springs. Boyard continued, “I think I’d probably be complacent if I lived in a progressive haven where I could be comfortable. I have to fight to be myself and present myself authentically every day in this town … it’s a daily struggle, an important struggle.”
Dylan Friedman, another Colorado Springs resident and father of two young girls who were also in attendance, gave other reasons for taking part.
“When Trump got elected, we felt we could not just sit by,” Friendman said. “We had to take more of a direct hand. I’m trying to make sure that the future that my girls grow up in is still there, and that it’s good for them.”
Yet, on the national scale, not everyone feels so positively about the womxn’s marches. According to the Washington Post, a womxn’s march scheduled to take place in Humboldt County, Calif. was cancelled due to fears that the crowd would be “overwhelmingly white” and thus would lack representation. Sierra Brewer and Lauren Dundes, two authors in a volume of the the Women’s Studies International Forum, write that the march’s focus on President Trump is “at odds with priorities of marginalized communities” and that “pussy hats” and the like distract from issues more pressing to people of color.
“I understand the paranoia around places and spaces and people that want to focus primarily on gender because of the fact that a lot of those places and spaces and people have ignored the ways women’s lives are different based on sexuality, race, class, nationality, all those things,” said, Heidi Lewis, professor of Feminist and Gender studies, “I hope people will not theorize the black participants and women of color [in the Womxns’ Marches] as merely ‘duped’ by white women because what that does is continue to cast black and POC women as not intellectual, that we can’t think for ourselves, that we need white women to tell us what to think about. Since when? White women need to be thoughtful about those critiques and to not merely dismiss them.”
Colorado College graduate and current Wellness Resource Center paraprofessor Celia Palmer ’18 agrees. “I think there are a lot of valid critiques of the Womxn’s March,” said Palmer, who assisted in holding an on-campus poster-making event for the march. “Part of [the point of the poster making] is to have these kinds of conversations … like, if you are going to participate [in the march], you should have awareness and be trying to prioritize people of color’s voices, trans voices, and have that be part of where you’re coming from if you are participating as a white person.”
For now, at least, the mission of the national Women’s March organization is to “harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change.” Time can only tell whether or not the mission and the marches change and grow to make more voices heard.