What's the big deal about pussy hats?! Please take the time to read this response written by our very own Samantha Harris on why these pink hats have become offensive to women of color:
"Pussy hats…what’s the deal?
Before we begin, let me just say that I am a black woman. So, this is coming from the perspective of a black woman...living in Grand Junction. I have my own privilege to face, in that I am cisgender and I have light skin. Folks, I know it’s hard swallowing that red pill, it’s large and it sticks in your throat for a while until it dissolves a bit…but we are ALL living in the matrix of white supremacy. That means you, reader. That means me.
Here’s the thing. No, you as a white person are not responsible for the construction of white supremacy; this beast was born a long time before you were. But you ARE responsible for how you act in the face of this beast. It does you no good at all. Ninety-nine percent of us do not fall under the umbrella of what is considered completely acceptable in this society. Unless you are a white male who is able-bodied, straight, cisgender, neurotypical and Christian, you are NOT considered to be the embodiment of human perfection. Why else has there been a feminist movement? Let’s think about that…
Facing one’s privilege is difficult. We live in a shame-based society that wants to tear down anyone who isn’t seen to be morally right. But morals and ethics are two different animals. Ethics come from an external source, an agreed upon set of rules on how to live life. Like not killing people. Morals come from within, and they vary from person to person. While one person may be okay with having sex before marriage, many still believe this to be a taboo. That’s not something you can order society to adhere to; that’s when you fall into fascism. Controlling the bodies of women. Which is in part what feminism is about, the eradication of such an evil. We all mostly agree not to kill other people. However, folks within the feminist movement still struggle to actually see women of color and transgender women, out of this belief that their lives are somehow less pure. Even if it’s not said outright. See the difference?
Silence is complicity, I’m sorry to have to tell you. If you can only speak out about your female body that is white and cisgender, then you are complicit in the destruction of women like me, and women like my transgender friends. This is harsh, but it is true. It’s the same as if you were being beaten in the street or raped, and I just walked on by, because that’s not my problem. Only it is…
Below are some facts about what women who are not white and cisgender face every day.
• The average life expectancy for a transgender person is 35.
• 1.4 million people in this country identify as transgender.
o Think of the number of people who have not yet identified themselves as such, due to the constraints of this society.
• Anti-LGBT violence disproportionately affects transgender individuals, especially transgender women of color.
o Imagine dying after a date, and having your killer go free because it’s still legal in this country to use trans panic as a defense, this idea that you simply didn’t know your date was trans. I do not know one trans woman who pulls that. What’s really happening is that there are men who are ashamed to love their trans women out loud. Imagine having your male partner go free because he used the defense of period panic to kill you. Would that fly? How do any of you feel when you find out someone you are interested in is ashamed of you?
• Last year 25 transgender individuals lost their lives. Most them were trans women of color. Unnecessary violence against their person, due to who they are.
o If burning women at the stake is not okay, if letting them die due to coat hanger abortions is not okay, it is NOT okay to kill a person because YOU think you should have a say so with regards to their gender identity.
• Transgender teens face hell in school. Seventy-eight percent of them reported bullying, with 35% reporting sexual assault and 12% reporting sexual violence. For a good third of those teens, the abuse came at the hands of teachers and faculty. In a place where they should have felt safe.
• Black women have diminished access to education yet have more of a presence in the workforce than white women, and we still make less than you do.
• Affirmative action benefitted white women above any other minority group.
• The #metoo movement was started by a black woman who found little to no resources for black women who were victims of sexual assault in inner cities.
• One in four African American women are uninsured.
• While white women are more likely to get breast cancer, black women are more likely to die from it. That comes from being profiled in the doctor’s office. African Americans are also 46% less likely, whether a child or an adult, to get appropriate treatment for pain in any medical setting. Five black women die each day from breast cancer in this country.
• Black women are four times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes, than white women.
• Black infants are 2.4 times more likely to die in their first year, than white infants.
• Only 2 percent of African American women are represented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, fields, while women in total make up 24 percent of the STEM workforce.
• White women make more than African American women among full-time, year-round workers, regardless of what degrees they have obtained.
• We literally do make ten cents less per dollar than white women do.
• The unemployment rate for black women was 181% higher than that of white women, just a few short years ago. Not much has changed.
Women who are not white and hetero-cis face obstacles every day, that white, hetero-cis women do not have on their radar. See above, we’re trying to stay alive. Our fight goes past rights to abortions we can’t even afford and equal pay that we’re going to be the last to get. When you were fighting for voting rights, the rights to have your own bank account in your own name (not until 1974), we weren’t even seen as humans. The Civil Rights movement just put Jim Crow underground, in DC on life support. He is not dead yet, trust me. So be glad that you have been allowed to go so far ahead in this struggle, with regards to rights obtained. Because while you are fighting not to lose rights that have been given, many of us are fighting for rights we’ve not even had yet.
The issue with the pink pussy hats is that yes, it is divisive for some. Me, I don’t particularly care. I wore a black one at this year’s march, for various reasons. But please understand I do not represent all black people, when it comes to my personal choices. Honestly, I let a lot fly for the sake of personal safety, especially out here in Grand Junction. The opinions of token black friends and family, who are probably not comfortable telling you or your white family the real truth about their experience, can’t be used as evidence. At all. Anecdotal evidence is not empirical fact.
Not all women have pussies. Not all women have pink pussies. While the pussy hat movement was started to protest sexual assault, the extremely traumatic experiences of women of color, as well as transgender women are often still silenced. Your personal opinion on what it means to be transgender does not stand up against empirical fact. Please google “PBS two-spirits” for a nice infographic on gender diverse cultures across the world, that have been here for as long as humans have.
I hate to break it to you, but the very way in which we label and categorize the human body is based upon the white supremacist model.
And yes, here at #BlackLivesMatterGrandJunction we are challenging that. We understand that not everyone is going to be with us, but for those of you who want to understand and progress with regards to this issue, we are always open for constructive dialogue."