• The Escape Issue

    Marching with My Friends and Enemies

    The Escape Issue

    Photo by VeryBusyPeople

    Marching with My Friends and Enemies

    Haley Markbreiter got a ride to the Women’s March in DC

    I wasn’t planning on going to the “Wombyn’s March,” but a space opened up in my friend’s mom’s van. We ate bagels, then passed out asleep.

    The rest stop bathroom line extended out of the rest stop. Most people wore the pink pussy hats that had gone viral; a mom-daughter duo from the Teacher’s Union had dyed their hair hot pink. In another bathroom line, two older white “sorta Hillary fans” confessed that they had wondered “how to blow up Trump’s whole Cabinet. With a bomb.”

    “That sounds pretty anarchist!” They laughed and shook their heads. They hadn’t been to any Black Lives Matter protests. Meanwhile, friends had been arrested on felony charges

    Even before the march started, everyone was already watching it on their phones, comparing pics of the growing Women’s March to memes of the slim inauguration ceremony turnout. The emphasis on numbers eclipsed the conversation on demographics: first with a backlash against the original all-white organizing group, then loud criticism of the Women’s March platform for removing (then hastily re-adding) its support of sex worker’s rights. White feminism’s refusal to recognize sex work as work was unsurprising to trans communities long exiled by TERF-y commitments to gender binaries organized around genitalia. Equally unsurprised were black women who had watched ‘fellow’ feminists support police violence, redlining, and school to prison pipelines while dismissing BLM. 

    We stood in the Mall and waited for the march to start, chatting with the other marchers. My friend wondered if anti-Trump marches would become regular, if Women’s March attendees would protest for BLM, if carefully knit pussy costumes and bubble lettered “Dump Trump” signs would be displayed in living rooms as mementos, reminders that shit was still going down. A friend said that the marchers reminded them of extended family, of the people we’d loved and fled from to be sex positive, mentally healthy, queer. We’d talked to our families about “politics.” Sometimes it worked. Often not. If police-approved one-off marches failed to radicalize white feminists, it was unclear what tactics would be more effective, and whose job it was to implement them. Moreover, it felt increasingly unclear whether unity with white liberal feminists would be productive, let alone possible, so long as their classism, racism, and trans-exclusion made them disinterested in “building the mass movement” that they claimed to want. As Bobby London argues in “Fuck Trump, But Fuck You, Too: No Unity with Liberals,” 

    “While it might appear that the masses have awoken, what use are those masses when they are mostly white liberals filled with denial of their own complacency and contribution towards maintaining the hierarchy of violence? 

    The fight is against the state and all those who are in place to protect it, liberalism in effect has become the state’s first line of defense. Their role is to funnel dissent into the electoral process or the Democratic Party, to keep us dependent on them through funding, and to enforce that our tactics remain weak and passive.”

    After thirty minutes of standing around, everyone started to get grumpy. “Kettled, dude,” my friend said. “Maybe people are finally gonna go off.” In contrast to BLM protests, none of the cops wore riot gear. Once the march started, the protesters cheered, smiling at the officers who shuffled them off the streets. 

    After, we went back to the hotel room someone’s parent’s friend had rented and ordered a pizza, ripping up the pizza box to make makeshift plates. It was hard to be disappointed; no one had expected shit. We watched Sean Spicer lie about Inauguration stats, read Twitter, fell asleep on air mattresses. When we woke up, our friends were still in jail.

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