Unintended Consequences of the Pussyhat March
My friend Kristen Skedgell sent me the following piece on a movement that has been taking social media and the news by the storm. It's name, "Pussyhat March" sounds funny and like a part of a bad joke, but ironically it aims to use knitting to empower women everywhere. Kristen has an interesting background and her opinion piece reflects something that a lot of us marginally experience through our work or in casual encounters, but we are not aware how real humiliation of women can be. I am honored to feature her writing here. M.Trako
Call me old-fashioned but I think the Pussyhat March is in for a big surprise. It's dangerous to make predictions and I'm often wrong when I do but as the survivor of a destructive Bible-based, neo-Nazi cult, I can't help feeling apprehensive for my idealistic sisters who think that a "visual statement" like a pink-knitted hat with cat ears on it will somehow gain the serious attention of the newly inaugurated president of the United States. That his respect for women is less than stellar is an understatement, when speaking of powerful men, himself included, he said: "You grab women by the pussy. You can do anything." Do my dear sisters think President Trump will respectfully listen or will he instead call out his riot squads to ensure peaceful demonstration, flex his presidential muscles to show who is boss? I wonder if he will even register the difference between pussyhats and rabbit ears (a la Playgirls.)
My mother was a liberal intellectual who was acknowledged in Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique and schooled me to "fight for my human rights." As the wife of an alcoholic and sole breadwinner in our family, she bruised her head on the glass ceiling many times but never seemed to have down time - for herself or her children. I desperately needed attention and didn't care about being a feminist or an activist or a Democrat or a liberal. I was too young and foolish to understand the great sacrifice she was making for me. So the first train that came along with the promise of the "warm fuzzy love" (furry purring cat love), my pussy and I jumped on board and headed for oblivion. That I was objectified, used and abused in the name of God was really no matter. The misogynistic leaders convinced me that sex was love and my pussy was for service to God.
Knowing what I know of men who disrespect women and believe they can "do anything," I imagine Mr. Trump will having one heck of a laugh on January 21st. He may even interpret this as a victory for the official denigration of women of all races, gender choices and religions. For men void of conscience and sensitivity, the spectacle of 150,000 women in pink pussyhats marching down Constitution Avenuemay be more of a turn-on than a reproach. With his manhood challenged, (he wouldn't dare be called a "pussy"), his testosterone might compel him to call out the military or God knows what. But that's just my overactive imagination. Given my traumatic past, I tend to think in extremes. When you join a group at fourteen that promises a life of love and meaning, only to find, in time, that you've been deceived and the leader is crazy, it tends to make you extra vigilant. By the time I was twenty-eight, I was convinced that I would most certainly die if I left the group. It was my mother who ultimately rescued me, sneaking me and my two babies away at the crack of dawn in a rented car.
In this Pussyhat March, I understand that we're trying to empower ourselves by placing a cute male sex reference on our heads and "taking it back" but, to me, that's like trying to dignify the "N" word. Once a snake, always a snake. Regardless of the theory, however, through the process of making the hats, something magical has occurred; another one of those unintended consequences. The women have found solidarity, a community- just what I was looking for in the cult. One of the tactics of mind control is to build distrust among the members. In the group, we were never sure who was "safe" and trustworthy. But knitting circles provide meditation, conversation and friendship. Trump and his cronies may not respect the pink hats but he'll have a rude awakening when he tries to divide the thousands of women who have found and believe in each other. I predict this march will be a surprise for all involved - for the women who participate and are empowered, not by head-wear but by dedication for each other and our country and the new President who will see that no amount of threats or indifference can overcome that.