Taking on David Brooks: The March as a First Salvo
Whew. A few commentators have questioned the achievement of the millions of women who marched last Saturday, deriding the marchers because they have not yet achieved a coherent political movement. But nobody was as derisive as David Brooks in his NY Times tirade. His points appear to be that the objectives of the women’s movement are no longer relevant to anyone but upper middle class women, and because the women’s march was not focused on solutions to the facts that technology and globalization are “decimating jobs and tearing the social fabric,” that immigration is redefining nation-states, and that the post World War II order is over, the march was just an ineffective exercise in girly emotion.
Mr. Brooks is wrong. We the participants--women and men of eclectic origins advocating a myriad of issues--were inclusive and purposeful. We all actually do know that a march does little on its own, that follow-up and a great deal of work are needed to achieve progress. But gender equality is central to all of the issues Mr. Brooks raises, including the consequences of globalism and technology. To the extent the global march was an opening gambit, it succeeded wildly as a call to arms.
We do not know if Mr. Brooks has ever had to fight for basic rights, to be recognized as the brilliant man he is. We know we grew up fighting for equality, and we do not think that the fight is over, or is only for upper class women. We were among the first to have access to birth control, without which we could not have achieved what we did. President Trump has now moved to threaten access to birth control through Planned Parenthood and government sponsored programs. That is a renewed attack upon women without economic resources, whether they live in the city or in the rural outskirts of this country. It is an attack initiated not by globalism, or technology, but by men. The men now in power. And that is one reason we wore pussy hats to signify that control of our bodies is central to the political scene in which we find ourselves. (Much to our disbelief, forty years on.) Just as Pussy Riot used the same word to signify political action that transcended feminism but to which feminism was central.
We agree that identity politics is a loser, which is why we did regret that pro-life women who wanted to march with us were not made welcome. But that did not make the parade an exercise in identity politics. It was inclusive and its focus was broad. And to promote women's rights is not identity politics, especially in a world dominated by men who would sideline us all--as Mr. Brooks makes clear when he conditions our right to play with the big boys upon our addressing the world order. He should understand that is exactly what we are doing.