This past Saturday, on the anniversary of the 2017 Women’s March, hundreds of thousands of participants rallied together in coordinated efforts throughout all fifty states to protest women’s continued degradation under the Trump Administration. With these rallies, organizers hoped to powerfully demonstrate that the Women’s March is not only a sustainable movement, but a united one. And as someone who’s always been an idealist and an optimist at heart, I’d usually be inclined to believe that the continued momentum and large turnout rates at Women’s March events across the country was clear evidence of this fact.
“It reveals the varying levels of privilege that continue to cause factions within contemporary iterations of feminism.”
But such saccharine thoughts were quickly swept from my mind the moment that I saw images of a protest sign from one of the marches that read, “If Hillary had won, we’d all be at brunch right now.” To be fair, this year’s Women’s March has not been the first time that signs with this phrase have been seen during events, as there’s also earlier recorded instances of similar signs being held at a 2017 Pride Equality March. However, in the context of examining our roles as women activists and allies to other disenfranchised members of society, the origins of where this slogan came from is irrelevant. What truly matters are the implications. While some may interpret “If Hillary had won, we’d all be at brunch right now” as a witty phrase worth repeating, in truth, it’s a revealing sentiment that uses pithy wordplay to mask many problematic aspects about the motivations behind the Women’s March.
First, it reveals the varying levels of privilege that continue to cause factions within contemporary iterations of feminism. Brunch, in of itself, is a meal that’s typically only accessible for those who have the money and leisure to spend weekend mornings indulging fancy dishes such as avocado toast, eggs benedict, or Belgian waffles—and for many has become synonymous with White privilege. In fact, in all of the documented instances that I’ve seen of “If Hillary had won, we’d all be at brunch right now” signs, the protesters carrying the signs have invariably been White. Such a stark racial trend reveals that there is still much work to be done within the movement to educate participants on the importance of intersectionality. For to have protesters within the Women’s March call themselves feminists and allies, but then casually equate a minor inconvenience (i.e. missing brunch) with the oppression that women from traditionally underrepresented groups have experienced for centuries (i.e. women of color), demonstrates a severe lack of organizational cohesion.
“The conditional “if” of “If Hillary had won, we’d all be at brunch right now” implies that much of the Women’s March approaches its activism in a reactive rather than proactive way.”
Additionally, the conditional “if” of “If Hillary had won, we’d all be at brunch right now” implies that much of the Women’s March approaches its activism in a reactive rather than proactive way. While it is understandable that the Women’s March originated from a reactive form of organization,—since the movement grew as a reply to Donald Trump’s election and clearly misogynistic ideologies—if the Women’s March intends to continue maintaining a political presence, it must take more initiative in its actions. Much of the past year, the Women’s March has done great work by pressuring members of Congress to vote against regressive policies such as attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and mobilize further in solidarity with the #MeToo Movement. Yet, once again, all of these actions have been primarily responses to things that have already occurred or are already occurring. As any sports fan knows, a team cannot win from strong defense alone, but must also have a powerful offense. Now that we’ve further established our presence, 2018 is the year for the Women’s March to go on the offensive. Delivering landslide victories during the midterm elections to pro-women candidates will be an impactful way to start this transition.
And finally, the phrase “If Hillary had won, we’d all be at brunch right now” suggests that if Hillary Clinton had been elected to office, then this new wave of feminism that we are witnessing would not be taking place. It suggests that most would have remained in a state of complacency, ignorant of the ongoing work that must be done to improve society for all of its members. That effective mobilization requires an event as seismic in its negative impact as the election of a Donald Trump to the highest office in the land. This mindset is unacceptable. Racism did not disappear through the election of Barack Obama and sexism (as well as all of the other horrible “-isms” that the Trump Administration embodies) will not disappear when Trump is voted out of office. The Women’s March must remain vigilant and continue striving for progress even when the name Donald J. Trump is but a blot in the history books. Because while brunch hours run from 11 am to 3 pm on the weekend, being an active citizen is a 24/7 job.