Why Is There A Divide Within the Women’s Movement?

Over the weekend the third annual Women’s March took place in cities all around the country. The first of these marches happened in 2017 as a way to protest the inauguration of President Trump, but it has since morphed into a more broad movement about gender and racial injustices.


As I was reading about these marches and learning more about them, I began to notice a divide that has come between the women’s movement in the past few years. Feminism has always been a point of controversy in our country: the first wave was exclusive of any woman who was not white, the second wave pushed women of color to the back of the fight for the right to vote, and these issues are still prevalent in the movement today.


Vanessa Wruble, a Brooklyn-based activist, asked three women of color to co-found the Women’s March with her in 2017: Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour. These three other women agreed to take on a leadership role, but they did not want to take a backseat and simply be “the help." Vanessa Wruble claims that these women told her she couldn’t be the face of the march because she was Jewish, and they felt that it would upset Black Lives Matter, who have supported Palestinian rights. This divide in the movement caused Vanessa Wruble to leave the Women’s March and start her own organization, March On.


The leaders of the Women’s March have associated themselves with Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader, who has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks. This controversy caused at least one city march to be cancelled and the Democratic National Committee has been removed from the list of partners on the Women’s March website. During the march on Saturday in Washington, D.C., some Jewish women in the crowd began yelling out and accusing the organizers of the march of being anti-Semitic and even equating them to Nazis.


What began as a fight for unity and equality for all women has splintered into two rival organizations. These disagreements within the Woman’s March have raised questions of both anti-Semitism and racism. The three women of color on the original leadership team argue that they should be in in charge of the march because they represent women who are still being oppressed today. On the other hand, Vanessa Wruble argues that all women should be able to have a leadership role in this movement, and nobody should have to take a backseat because the march is intended to represent women of all races.


I don’t know what the future of the Women’s March will look like, but I do know that our country still has a long way to come before women have true equality. I hope women of all races, religions and sexual orientation can come together in one cohesive movement; that is the only way to make real change.