In the course of one week, the streets of Washington, D.C., saw the feet of thousands of people exercising their right to peacefully protest. On Saturday, January 22, women lined the streets as they participated in the Women’s March on Washington. The following Friday, January 27, women and men lined the streets to participate in the 44th annual March for Life. In some regards, the marches were similar. Both marches hosted thousands of individuals passionately marching for issues and concerns that are close to their hearts. Both marches had “sister marches” in major cities across the country in which individuals expressed their concerns to the governing officials. However, when one looks at these marches closely, it is clear how different they truly were. A major difference that stands out is how feminism was represented and how the marches illustrated a paradox to the concept of authentic feminism.
The Women’s March claimed to represent feminism as women marched for a wide array of issues including ending violence, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, workers’ rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, and environmental justice. While many issues were listed as unifying principles for the march, the issue of abortion seemed to be the overarching theme as portrayed by the media. This was seen primarily as that march was sponsored by Planned Parenthood, the number-one provider of abortions in America (323,999 abortions provided in 2015). Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecil Richards, also spoke demanding women’s reproductive rights, including the right to abortion. Signs were held proclaiming that what a woman does with “her own body” is her choice. However, not all choices were accepted, as evidenced by the fact that pro-life groups were not allowed to participate in the march. Abortion was not only lauded as a woman’s right, it seemed to be blatantly encouraged with absolutely no restrictions or moral implications.
Expressing a different message, the streets of Washington, D.C. were yet again filled less than a week later. This time, women and men of all races and religions marched together with one issue in mind: Life. Unlike in the Women’s March, the March for Life participants were not marching for their own personal rights, needs, and desires. Instead, these marchers hoped to be a voice for the most innocent and vulnerable among us, the unborn. March for Lifers firmly believe that human rights begin when life begins and that each person has a right to life. Beyond that, the marchers also expressed their love and concern for the mothers and fathers who find themselves with an unwanted or unintended pregnancy. There was a contagious attitude of joy and hope as the marchers lined Constitution Avenue chanting, singing, and praying together with one voice.
While the Women’s March loudly proclaimed to represent feminism, the March for Life more subtly and more closely represented authentic feminism. This is primarily because being pro-life and pro-woman go hand-in-hand. Besides the obvious fact that half of all babies who are aborted are females — who would grow to be women, one cannot subject a woman to the trauma of abortion and also claim to have her best interest at heart. Abortion betrays women as it claims to quickly and easily take away something unwanted, but often leaves women with severe emotional and physical scars.
Authentic feminism was not represented at the Women’s March. The media videos and images portrayed women dressed in vulgar costumes, shouting profanities, and excluding a group of people who did not share the same beliefs on abortion. This is not authentic femininity! Our Almighty Creator has given women unique and valuable gifts that make up our femininity. These gifts include the ability to nurture, a special sense of intuition, and a heart that is giving and self-sacrificing, to name a few. Women show these gifts in their homes as daughters and sisters, in the workplace, and, if it is God’s will, as mothers. True feminists believe that women should indeed have rights, as women’s unique gifts merit such. However, authentic femininity calls for women to then move beyond themselves and care for and nurture others.
While the March for Life did not have feminism at the core of its message, it was very clearly represented as men and women marched for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves. It exemplified authentic feminism as the participants showed their concern for women who are subject to abortion, knowing that their emotional and physical health is at stake. The pro-lifers, as one, desired to express that all individuals are loved, valuable, and wanted. The men and women who participated in the March for Life give us hope for our culture. The Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “The level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. In as much as woman is loved, it follows that the nobler a woman is, the nobler man will have to be to be deserving of that love. That is why the level of any civilization is always its level of its womanhood.” As women, we have a unique and valuable role in society, and we must embrace authentic femininity as we attempt to pull our civilization- our nation- forward towards its hopes, dreams, and ideals.
Hope Acquilano lives in Charleston, South Carolina. She is a Catholic wife and mother who enjoys being a stay-at-home mom to her nine-month-old son. In her spare time, she enjoys doing artwork for her small business.