You Do Uterus: Political engagement shouldn’t stop at the Women’s March

This weekend, millions of citizens across the country are expected to attend the third annual Women’s March. The march has previously drawn record-breaking numbers in Los Angeles, a city that routinely observes similar rallies and marches for causes like immigrant justice, Black Lives Matter, Native and indigenous people’s rights and, more recently, the Los Angeles teachers’ union strike. Women’s March leadership has made efforts to combat perceptions of the march as one that is emblematic of “white feminism” and emphasize the importance of diversity and intersectionality in its messaging and social posts.

But the fact remains: If diversity and intersectionality matter to those who have shown up to the Women’s March for the last two years, they should also show up to rallies protesting other forms of identity-based oppression. This is certainly a trend nationwide, although in a city as diverse as L.A., the disparities in terms of who shows up to what are more visible and unsettling.

The reality is that where we choose to physically place ourselves and the events that we take time out of our days to show up for, speak volumes about our priorities and the issues and groups that matter to us.

Certainly, attendees of the Women’s March show up in good faith and for a deeply important cause. In my two years of experience at the L.A. Women’s March, I’ve proudly marched alongside a beautiful and empowering diversity of attendees,who defy monolithic, often white, cisgender and heterosexual understandings of women as a political group.

Despite controversies involving some of the leaders and organizers of the movement, the marches themselves feel grassroots — deeply personal and intimate in nature. People  show up with their families and loved ones to stand in solidarity and send a clear message to President Donald Trump’s administration and the predominantly male leadership of this country, who routinely use their power to degrade and oppress women and other marginalized groups.

The suggestion that those who attend the Women’s March should also look into supporting other solidarity rallies in their communities is by no means a condemnation of the march nor a discouragement from attending. But one prevalent concern after the first Women’s March, which took place in 2017 in the wake of Trump’s inauguration, was that attendees would quickly become disengaged afterward.

One way to stay engaged beyond attending the annual march is to turn to the voting polls, volunteer for local campaigns and be aware of other rallies and community solidarity events to attend.

During election season, voting, phone-banking and canvassing for campaigns are central political acts that democracy relies on to survive. But physically being present and offering marginalized groups support and solidarity by showing that you care enough to show up is an integral political act, as well.

At USC, my attention is particularly drawn to the rousing, passionate people organizing in support of Marshall School of Business Dean James Ellis, whose June termination was announced in December.  

Selective outrage is one of the most pernicious purveyors of social control and oppression. Choosing what to pay attention to — and, conversely, what to ignore — and choosing what to show up for are deeply political acts. I look forward to seeing many of you at this weekend’s Women’s March — and hope to see you at subsequent solidarity rallies in L.A., too.

Kylie Cheung is a junior writing about feminism and women’s rights. Her column, “You Do Uterus” runs every other Thursday.