Women from various political and ideological backgrounds challenged the 2019 Women’s March by marching in protest and organizing alternative rallies near the Washington, D.C. event on Saturday. The third annual Women’s March took place in Freedom Plaza, a more confined space than in years past, suggesting that organizers anticipated smaller crowds after facing allegations of anti-Semitism and defending Nation of Islam’s anti-Semitic leader Louis Farrakhan.
Following the development of those controversies, conservative group Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) organized a rally across the street in the name of “all women” at the same time as the Women’s March. New Wave Feminists, which stands against abortion, also “marched in protest” during the Women’s March.
Tammy Bruce formerly served on the board of the National Organization for Women and as president of its Los Angeles chapter before leading Independent Women’s Voice, the sister organization to Independent Women’s Forum.
“It doesn’t make much sense to begin and push through in a movement that kind of demonizes other groups of women, whether it be Jewish women or women, ironically, who don’t conform,” she told National Review at IWF’s event.
Most Americans can agree with the idea that “all women can work together and that we should as Americans work together to improve the environment for everyone,” she added. But the Women’s March doesn’t accomplish that.
“In addition to the anti-Semitic rhetoric, the harshly partisan rhetoric, the rejection of women who think differently, when it comes to either abortion or how we live our lives as individuals,” said Bruce, “this is for most of us, the antithesis of lifting people up, which is making it easier to be yourself and to embrace those differences.”
While the Women’s March started out “on sort of a partisan basis” because it began in reaction to President Trump’s election, Bruce said there was “this sense that it could be larger than that.” That changed when the march created an abortion-friendly platform and removed pro-life groups led by women, like New Wave Feminists, from its partner list in 2017.
At first, New Wave Feminists still attended as participants because, as Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, the head of the group, told National Review, “we believe in the overall vision” even if “we disagree with the abortion issue.” But in 2019, the Women’s March “got a little off course.”
“We decided that we needed to do more than just be a dissenting voice when it comes to the abortion issue,” said Herndon-De La Rosa. “We need to actually challenge the leadership, because that dehumanization [of the unborn] has spread to . . . dehumanizing Jewish people and LGBTQIA people.”
Herndon-De La Rosa remembered when the Women’s March accepted her group as a partner for “four glorious days” when it first began in 2017. After a feminist uproar, they were removed and the Women’s March even issued an apology for temporarily accepting the “anti-choice organization.” But in a Jan. 14 appearance on The View, Women’s March leaders Tamika Mallory and Bob Bland denied uninviting pro-life women.
“I was screaming at my phone, I was watching it on my phone. I couldn’t believe they said that,” Herndon-De La Rosa said of her reaction to the segment. “Maybe it’s getting caught up in the semantics of it — we were not banned from the march, we still came and marched any way.”
Still, they were removed as sponsors without notice. “When we initially applied for sponsorship, they knew full well that we were pro-life,” said Herdon-De La Rosa, because New Wave Feminists placed it in their description.
But even though the leadership didn’t approve, many of the marchers did. At past marches, she said, “We were so overwhelmed by the positivity of women coming up to us and saying, ‘We disagree with that decision’ and ‘We’re so glad you’re here.’”
At IWF’s rally, senior policy analyst Patrice Lee Onwuka sacrificed spending the day with her one-month-old baby boy to be at the event for all women. She said the women who feel most left out by the Women’s March are, “number one, conservative,” like herself.
“Being a black woman and an immigrant, I check lots of boxes, but I am a conservative,” she added. “I want to control more of my resources, I want lower taxes, I want less government because I actually think as an individual I can achieve much more than waiting for the government to hand down and bestow upon me what it wants.”
The Women’s March didn’t represent that, she continued.
“You can go down the list of all of their principles and all the issues that they deal with and it becomes very obvious that this is not about all women and all issues, it is about leftists, progressive liberal issues and causes,” she said.
Lila Rose, the president of pro-life group Live Action, spoke at IWF’s event, and agreed the march didn’t represent women.
The march “does not represent most women,” Rose told National Review before listing the “voices that are left out.” Those voices included pro-life women, Catholic women, Christian women, pro-family women, women “that don’t hate men,” and women “who know we’ve won our political rights and now we can thrive.”
She added that “if we’re going to fight for a political right, it should be for the right to be born” which she called the “greatest human right that’s missing in America for children.”
While the Women’s March began with “good intentions” rooted in “legitimate concerns,” Rose said in her speech that the “message of this march over here is that we are victims.” Instead, she said, “we are really some of the most free, and privileged people in the entire world. We are blessed.”