Handcrafted magenta hats with cat ears dubbed “pussyhats” were the unofficial symbol of women’s marches across the country last year, creating what appeared to be a sea of pink when photographed from above.
But the creator of the hat has faced criticism after some have complained the knitted hats aren’t inclusive of women of color — who might not possess, well, all-pink lady parts — or transgender women, who might not have lady parts at all. Some critics say the hats are a blow to contemporary feminism and reinforce concerns that last year’s marches centered on white women. And there’s a national movement this year to ditch the hats altogether.
“I never thought that by calling it the ‘pussyhat’ that it was saying that women’s issues are predicated on the possession of the pussy,” Krista Suh, the cofounder of the Pussyhat Project, told NBC News. She said the hats were inspired by President Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comment, immortalized in a 2005 Access Hollywood tape leaked before the November 2016 election. The hats were intended, said Suh, who is Asian, to reclaim the word and be empowering for women.
Organizers of Saturday’s Women’s March on Philadelphia say they’ve been bombarded with questions about the hats. So what’s a woke Philadelphian who wants to attend the Women’s March to do?
Officially, the organizers of this year’s Women’s March on Philadelphia aren’t taking a position. Instead, they’re asking marchers to educate themselves on both sides. To help, organizers posted about the issue on the event’s Facebook page and included links to stories about the issue.
“Our stance is, we’re not in the business of telling you what to wear,” organizer Beth E. Finn said. “But we also think it’s important people educate themselves and maybe think about their own privilege that makes them say, ‘I’m wearing it anyway.’ ” She added: “I’m a white woman myself, right? I live in a privileged bubble, and I’ve really started to learn that over the last year.”
Other members of the Philadelphia march organizing committee said a conversation about who’s wearing what hat detracts from the overall message of the movement. Deja Lynn Alvarez, a trans woman and prominent advocate for the rights of transgender people of color in Philadelphia, said she’s focused on fighting for federal protections against discrimination for trans people and can’t get “caught up in these little conversations about a damn hat.”
“When we’re busy fighting with each other, we’re not fighting the oppressors,” she said. “So guess what? If the woman to the left of me wants to wear a pink pussyhat and the woman to the right of me wants to wear a blue pussyhat, that’s OK with me, because that is their voice.”
Nikki Bagby, a black woman who also sits on the organizing committee of the local march, agreed.
“We have far too many other issues to stand together for than argue over whether or not a person wears a hat,” she said. “And it’s cold.”
Organizers say this year’s Women’s March, which starts around 10:30 a.m. Saturday on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, could attract 50,000 or more participants.
If you go
What: Women’s March on Philadelphia
When: Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Start at Logan Square and proceed to Eakins Oval.
Registration: While the event is free to attend, attendees are asked to register for tickets ahead of time.