What Did (and Will) the Charlotte Women’s March Mean?

Join us February 28 for #discussCLT event on #MeToo

The Charlotte Women’s March, January 20.

Logan Cyrus

Committed activists tend to scoff at “keyboard warriors,” people who talk passionately about social issues on social media but nowhere else; and chronic protesters, folks who attend marches, shouting slogans and carrying signs and taking selfies, then return to their comfortable lives and homes. One of the most encouraging things about the assorted Women’s Marches, held in cities throughout the country on January 20, was that participants seemed to understand the necessary connection between using their voices and taking concrete action.

Our latest #discussCLT podcast includes some of those voices from the march in Charlotte, which drew roughly 5,000 people to uptown on a bright Saturday morning. Charlotte magazine Editor Kristen Wile hosted the episode and shared some of her observations from a brief essay she wrote later that day—a good on-ramp for our next #discussCLT event on February 28 at Catawba Brewing Co. We’ll be talking about the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and how they’re influencing action and public perception in Charlotte and elsewhere.

You can take away any number of lessons from the Women’s March. Here are three that jump out at me, although it’s in no way an exhaustive list:

1. #MeToo is in large part a reaction to Trump and Trumpism. It’s possible, of course, that the reaction to The New York Times’ reporting on Harvey Weinstein—the dam breach that’s led to all the similar revelations since—would have grown into a social movement anyway. But for a man as openly caddish and predatory as Trump to not only win the Presidency but defeat the first female Presidential nominee created a fury and resolve that needed a vehicle to express themselves. #MeToo, in other words, has folded seamlessly into the larger backlash to Trump’s presidency.

2. #MeToo has a chance to alter, for good, how our culture perceives and treats women. As satisfying and necessary as opposition to Trump might be, it’s tied to a specific person with a finite hold on power. #MeToo, like the women’s suffrage movement in the early 20th century and later feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s, seems like a profound, no-going-back cultural shift. “I think what characterized the last (Women’s March) was more shock; it was kind of a knee-jerk reaction. This is much more deliberate,” state Senator Jeff Jackson of Charlotte says in the podcast. “You can tell the people here intend this to be a permanent part of our culture.”

3. Women around the country are marching from the streets into their boards of elections headquarters to run for office. More women than ever before have filed since the 2016 election, a development that could mean profound changes in Congress and state legislatures. North Carolina’s General Assembly, for example, is three-quarters male, despite women accounting for half the population.

An unnamed marcher made that connection during the podcast, along with an intersectional link to other cultural minorities. “We do need more representation in Washington and in our state houses,” she said. “More visibility—more Muslim women in the house, more Indian women, more Spanish women, more women, more diversity, men, more gay men in the house, not just straight white men. Everyone being accepted, (it doesn’t matter) who you are, where you’re from, your background.”

The times, they are … well, you know. If this is something you want to talk about, or if you have some ideas, or if you just want to connect with some informed and passionate people, we’d love to see you at Catawba Brewing on the 28th. Tickets are free, but you must register. Hope to see you there.

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