Local socialist group discusses implications of MeToo

You don’t have to attend the Women’s March to have a passion for women’s rights. On Jan. 28, the Socialist Alternative chapter of Grand Rapids hosted an open discussion on women’s rights exactly one week after the Women’s March. The Socialist Alternative is a national movement that fights against exploitation and injustice. The open discussion last Sunday was centered around the “MeToo” movement from a socialist and feminist perspective. The meeting was held at the Kent – Ionia Labor Council and involved discussion on a variety of issues related to women’s rights, including sexual harassment, gender – based violence, reproductive rights, childcare and the pay gap between men and women.

The main focus of the “MeToo” movement is letting women who have suffered sexual assault know they are not alone. The movement was founded by Tarana Burke in 1998 and has since flourished into a nationwide community of survivors and supporters.

The discussion last Sunday began by clearing up confusion on the often misinterpreted term “feminism” by explaining how being a feminist merely connotes the desire to have equality among men and women. The importance of being able to distinguish feminism from radical feminism was reiterated, as it led into the ever – prominent question of how to fix issues of inequality. Many members of the Socialist Alternative agreed that unionizing is the best way to combat female inequality in today’s society.

Kylie Conklin, a member of the Socialist Alternative group in Grand Rapids, shared her opinion on the matter, saying, “You shouldn’t have to be unionized to stick up for yourself.”

The discussion eventually turned towards evaluating the 2018 Women’s March. Organizers agreed that marching is a very inspiring and effective way to get involved in issues affecting American women today and prove that they have a voice. However, while the Women’s March focuses on equality and respect, organizers recognized that many individuals ironically boycotted the 2018 Women’s March on account of issues of inequality. The 2018 Women’s March not only excluded transgender women from being represented, but also failed to accurately represent women of color as well.

During the past Women’s Marches of 2017 and 2018, hundreds of women wore popular pink hats representing vaginas. These hats have become a way of rebelling against the infamous and insulting remarks made by President Trump regarding women. However, the hats are not made in any color other than pink, excluding women of any color other than white.

As the discussion progressed, it was brought to the attendees’ attention that after the Women’s March 2018, large Canadian organizations of the March have been working to formally legitimize it. Washington D.C responded to this effort by claiming all applications need to be submitted in order to prove that the group has created themselves. Following this statement, two representatives of the Women’s March in D.C. listed themselves into the organization and took the name the Canadian March had been actively trying to establish.

Raina Cook, another member of the Socialist Alternative group in Grand Rapids, expressed her disappointment with the story, saying, “It’s not okay to try and trademark activism.”

As the meeting came to a close, organizers agreed the issue of equality was an ever – prevalent and controversial issue that does not allow for a simple solution.