This past Saturday, protestors across the country gathered to participate in the annual Women’s March. However, the event did not come to fruition in Boston. March Forward Massachusetts, the organization that has overseen the marches for Boston and Cambridge since 2017, did not plan one for 2020.The frigid weather, as well as high planning costs, were the official explanations for the lack of event.
As the #MeToo movement proceeds, this weekend’s omission raises important questions about the necessity and motivation behind activism in the case of the women’s marches. In the current political moment, activism feels compulsory because problematic institutions have an iron grip on society.
Historical precedents also shape our understanding about activism’s efficacy. As a result, we have romanticized activism and accept it as the quintessential solution in this fight.
That isn’t to say that this form of resistance is frivolous; it’s just that activism is also imperfect, and we ought to stop treating it as the sole method for making social change. If we continue to do so, we are responsible for our own inaction.
In the case of the Women’s March, annualizing it in Washington D.C. is sensible. The protest’s proximity to the country’s law-making institutions emphasizes the broader movement’s air of urgency. By extension, these demands become more actionable. On the other hand, sprawling marches across the country years after the movement’s initiation makes little sense.
The previous iterations of the Women’s March were in direct response to the statements coming from the Trump administration. And to that end, they’ve made their point.
But to try and dismantle the patriarchy in one go? That may be too lofty a goal for an entire generation to take on, let alone a single movement. We’re still sifting through all of the institutions and individuals that the patriarchy has infected.
However, this limitation does not mean that we should understand Boston’s lack of march as the feminist movement losing momentum.
The decision to not organize a march and participate at lower levels doesn’t point to a bleak future. Instead, it presents an opportunity for the movement to reconfigure its goals.
Women of color and trans women are disproportionately harmed by patriarchal structures and society at large. To make heard their concerns to the same degree as white women’s concerns — that’s feminism.
And why shouldn’t we? A rising tide lifts all boats.