Women’s Marchers Urged to Ditch ‘Pussyhats’: Offensive to Transgender People

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - JANUARY 21: Emily Crowley from Vermont knits a pink hat for protesters at the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

Some feminists are urging participants in the Women’s March this year to ditch their pink pussyhats for fear they may be offensive to those biological men who claim to be women and to people of color.

The word is that the pink pussyhat “excludes and is offensive to transgender women and gender non-binary people who don’t have typical female genitalia and to women of color because their genitals are more likely to be brown than pink,” reports the Detroit Free Press.

“I personally won’t wear one because if it hurts even a few people’s feelings, then I don’t feel like it’s unifying,” said Phoebe Hopps, founder and president of Women’s March Michigan. “I care more about mobilizing people to the polls than wearing one hat one day of the year.”

According to the news report, Women’s March state and national groups are abandoning the pussyhats because they send the wrong message.

“It doesn’t sit well with a group of people that feel that the pink pussyhats are either vulgar or they are upset that they might not include trans women or nonbinary women or maybe women whose (genitals) are not pink,” Hopps said.

As HuffPo reported last year, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards shared on Instagram instructions for knitting a pink pussyhat:

The CEO of America’s largest abortion vendor took a photo of her pink yarn and a YouTube video of knitting instructions “to show her support for the hats ― and her attempt at making her own.”

“On my way to the immigration march in Washington this morning,” she wrote, “and using the train ride to learn how to knit my own pink hat for the Women’s March next Saturday!”

According to Jayna Zweiman, of the Pussyhat Project, its “founding principles” are “inclusivity, compassion, creativity, personal connection, and open dialogue, all to further women’s rights and human rights.”

“The Pussyhat Project is about giving visibility to the invisible and voice to the voiceless,” she notes. “Its beauty is that anyone, anywhere can participate … Knitting a hat is one way to contribute.”

Zweiman also explains that “the name ‘pussyhat’ alludes to the shape of the hat with cat ears and references the Access Hollywood recording of Donald Trump.”

“’Pussy’ is a derogatory term not just about specific genitalia, but also about the feminine,” she adds. “We want to reclaim the term as a means of female empowerment. Pussyhat is about speaking up for body autonomy and fighting against abuses of power.”

Nevertheless, Zweiman says she is open to listening to those biological men who claim to be women and people of color who are apparently insulted by the pink pussyhat.

“Not all women have pussies. Not all pussies are pink,” she says. “Our intent was and always will be to support all women. We hear some of you saying that this symbol has made some women feel excluded.”

The Women’s March in Pensacola, Florida, is one group that is discouraging marchers from wearing pink pussyhats. In its post to Facebook about the pussyhat issue, the group apparently felt the need to alert readers: “Trigger Warning and Content Warning for comments: Transphobia, Cissexism, Racism, mention of Sexual Assault, Genital Mutilation, Misogyny and Trans-Misogyny.”

The group asserted that the concept of the “power of the vagina” is one belonging to the “second wave of feminism.”

“This type of feminism, though hugely successful in terms of reproductive justice, ultimately emphasized a mistreatment of transgender women that continues today,” the Pensacola organization said. “Though some transgender women do choose to have Genital Reconstruction Surgery, many do not, and should not have to prove their [sic] being a woman.”

As a result, the group says, “The Pensacola Women’s March team will be removing all forms of hate speech that they encounter in an effort to promote a safer environment for all women.”

Hopps, however, says it is important the issue of the pussyhat not serve as one that is divisive.

“People are going to wear them. I know that,” she said. “You know, we can’t be divided right now. We need to unite. So, if you want to wear one, you can. But just be aware that it is upsetting to some people, and that’s why national has moved away from that.”

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