I’m going to DC to participate in the Women’s March on Washington, and I am well aware that this is serious stuff.
I’m going to wear a pink pussy hat. This shouldn’t be the metric by which you judge me.
A few days ago Petula Dvorak wrote in the Washington Post that the Women’s March “needs passion and purpose, not pink pussycat hats.” While I respect her view that the importance of this event be front and center, I would argue that the event will have plenty of passion and purpose, and to suggest that the wearing of pink hats somehow degrades that is only contributing to the larger issue: anything that seems too girlie is still dismissed as frivolous, and that is exactly the problem.
I am a 42-year-old woman with a PhD, who spent months living in a tent at high altitude with a group of men while studying to be a geologist. I have countless reasons to travel across the country and unite with fellow Americans who feel passionately that women’s rights are human rights. I fought my way through the male-dominated world of science, and I recognize how far we still have to go before women are truly treated as equals in this country. Does wearing a pink hat mean that I care less, am less worthy of being heard, or am just too cutesy to be taken seriously? I don’t think so. Just like how wearing high heels to teach science doesn’t make me a less capable scientist, wearing a pink hat doesn’t make me less of a voice for women’s equality.
Protests throughout history have included people wearing matching clothing and chanting slogans in unity. From the burning of draft cards, to all-white wearing suffragettes, to the signs and chants of We Are The 99% - these things became strong symbols of unity and strength. Dvorak argues that wearing the pink hats, which she regards as “she-powered frippery,” will reduce the Women’s March to being remembered as, “an unruly river of Pepto-Bismol roiling through the streets of the capital rather than a long overdue civil rights march.” She denounces the idea of sparkly signs with what sounds like disdain for all things girlie. She refers back to bra burning and how it marred feminism for nearly half a century. It wasn’t the bra burning that marred feminism (they never actually burned them)—it was its tie to feminism, and people’s discomfort with bras and breasts, which are uniquely female. If men had burned their underwear in protest of going to war we wouldn’t be arguing its seriousness.
Does wearing a pink hat mean that I care less, am less worthy of being heard, or am just too cutesy to be taken seriously?
In my view, this is not about the hats, or sparkly signs, or singing songs in unison. It is about the fact that we are women, and that doing something that is so blatantly female (like wearing *gasp* pink hats) somehow lessens the impact of what we are unifying for.
This sentiment is exactly the problem. We need to see past the pink.
The mocking of the pink hats exemplifies exactly why it is so important that we march, speak, write, and fight for equality for women. It exemplifies why the hats must be pink, not black or brown or green or any other color that seems stronger, tougher, more masculine or more serious.
So sister, I will not back away from the pink hat. There is nothing wrong with pink. Stop equating pink (and by association femininity) with lack of seriousness, strength and passion. THIS is exactly what we march for.
I will wear my pink hat proudly as a peaceful but blatant way of saying to our incoming pussy-grabber in chief that I know who he is and I won’t forget. I will wear it as a scientist, mother, wife, daughter, and kick-ass woman who is smart enough and passionate enough to know that the color of my hat doesn’t dictate how important this march is for all women. My pink hat does not lessen the message that I am not afraid to be a strong girl in a man’s world. In fact, I dare you to look at the pink hats and forget for just one second that they’re pink. Instead, look at the women under the hats. Look at what they do. Hear what they say. See past the pink.
“Protesting is about presenting a united front against oppression, and can be a powerful tool to activate change on social and political levels around the world. The clothes worn to protests serve purposes for the protesters themselves, the subjects of the protest, law enforcement who may be monitoring demonstrations, and onlookers. The way protesters dress is visually powerful not only for on-lookers, the media, and the target of their demonstrations, but also internally to unite the group and amplify their voices before they even utter a single chant.” – Elizabeth King, racked.com, May 2016
I will wear my pink hat for unity, in support of feminism, and I will be honored to do so.