As American citizens, we live in Thomas Jefferson’s state of civic republicanism have a civic duty not only to our fellow man, but to our community. As active citizens, we have an obligation to participate in civic affairs. Besides  voting, we are expected to march, organize sit-ins and employ other methods of protest to ensure our voices are heard. Through this sacrifice of time and other responsibilities, we become the catalysts for the changes we seek. In the midst of the tense political climate, predominantly Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election amid the sexual harassment allegations against him and his harsh stance against Planned Parenthood, hundreds of thousands of women gathered to protest and advocate for their human rights. Unfortunately, this form of civil unrest for women’s rights was convoluted by corrupt biases within the women’s rights organizations, in addition to the poor planning and understanding of the purpose of this cause.

The 2019 Women’s Marches were seen by many as a great success because they continued advocating on behalf of women and other minority groups across the globe; however, a careful analysis shows that they were in complete disarray. The March closest to the Brandeis campus, the 2019 Boston Women’s March, resonated with an overarching anti-Semitic sentiment. One of the Women’s March’s founders, Teresa Shook, accused the leaders of the national march organization of anti-Semitism. The accusation was leveled at two primary leaders: Linda Sarsour, who released numerous comments supporting the radical Muslim Brotherhood and has praised the Sharia Law, which treats women as second class citizens, and Tamika Mallory, who has a long time-association with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of Nation of Islam, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as  a hate group. The concern about anti-Semitism has created a stark divide in a movement meant to unite people across race and gender boundaries. Katherine Siemionko, who founded the Women’s March Alliance, which organizes the Women’s Marches in NYC, noted that her group lost of thousands of social media and newsletter subscribers. 

As a Jewish feminist, I was conflicted between my religion and my duty to defend women’s rights. I, obviously, was not the only one. The Women’s Marches are supposed to represent all women, regardless of race, religion or nationality. It is an empowering, inclusive movement meant to showcase acceptance and tolerance with hope for a better tomorrow. How are Jewish women supposed to feel accepted when the women in charge are branded by their alliances with people who hate Jews? Aside from the obvious discouragment of Jewish women from participating, the anti-Semitism present within this year’s march has discouraged many other people and organizations from participating. The Democratic National Committee and nearly 300 other organizations that endorsed the 2017 march have since disaffiliated with this year's demonstration. Very few potential or current 2020 presidential candidates are participating, barely two years after politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris made prominent appearances at marches. 

Because it does not have the financial support or presence of famous faces and organizations, the march has since faced major obstacles that have cost it possible success. The purpose of the march is to unify all on the issue of equality; instead, it splintered its supporters and brought about extensive negative press. There were two New York marches because the Women’s March Alliance and the New York chapter of the Women’s March could not come to terms over the exclusionary anti-Semitic sentiment the leaders of the march were exuding. As I have previously stated, the point of this march is to present a unified front against our oppressors and continue fighting for women’s equity. This factionalization? Brouhaha? Negative media coverage? is doing the exact opposite. In the wake of all the sexual assault victims speaking up in this past year, women, now more than ever, should be supporting one another. Hate lurks in every shadow of this patriarchal society; women and supporters of feminism  are the sole beings who can spread the light to erase the hate. 

We need to remember that we are the victims of this hate and need the media to help spread our message: equal acceptance and treatment for all. This anti-Semitic shadow forced very negative media attention onto the March. The movement is only two years old, in the beginning stages of its life, and should have only positive and uplifting media attention to ensure people will continue to support it in the future. Because the March’s leaders are clearly exhibiting their inconsistency with their mission statement, the media has had a field day over the March’s underlining absurdity and its lack of legitimacy. By publicizing how splintered the international group became, it fed into the opposers’ stereotypical idea that these women really do not know what they are doing and cannot be trusted to handle organizing an event centered around tolerance.

Unfortunately, the people running the California Women’s March failed to understand the importance of positive media attention. The organizers of the 2019 Eureka Women’s March decided that it would be better to call off the march less than a month before it was set to walk because of the “overwhelmingly white” supporters. They go as far as to acknowledge that their majority-white leadership board could be the first aspect of this problem. What is most baffling is that they knew from the get-go that their supporters are from all different backgrounds; why would they not institute a more diverse leadership team? Aside from the obvious, the Eureka Women’s March organizers are completely ignoring the purpose of this walk: to stand as a unified front and defend equality and women’s rights. By shutting down their march, they are depriving their supporters of an opportunity to fight for their cause. No matter the color of the skin of those who show up to the walk, it is a necessity for bringing about better media attention and giving supporters a chance to rally and unite around their common cause. By selfishly cancelling the march, the organizers have thus again silenced women’s rights.   

2019’s Women’s Marches were embarrassing. Women are forced into a constant battle in their day-to-day lives to be seen as their counterparts’ equals. This march is purposed to celebrate, empower and unite women, and clearly, that is not what has happened. As Americans we have an obligation to protest to ensure our voices are heard, but we must be strategic and not let individual biases dilute the true purpose of our cause.