Staging a revolution doesn’t come cheap apparently.
Image by Liz Lemon/Wikimedia Commons.
The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, hundreds of thousands of us assembled in downtown Los Angeles to participate in the Women’s March. We were a satellite march, one of many offshoots taking place in tandem with the main show in Washington, D.C. Still, so many people arrived that morning that the march never actually took place. There were enough bodies to pack the entire length of its intended course. Stalled in human traffic, we cycled through chants and snapped photos of the signs in our vicinity. After hours of holding our positions, most of us far away from the speeches at city hall, we dispersed through the city streets — more oil spill than forceful stream.
Later, when we got home, we weren’t surprised to learn the march would go down in history as the country’s biggest single-day rally. It had to be; there were enough of us to make accurate head counts a fool’s errand and numbers themselves incomprehensible.
Now, almost seven months later, Women’s March organizers have returned to public consciousness with an event slated to be as monumental as the organization’s first. Dubbed the Women’s Convention, a three-day amalgam of workshops, panels, and “strategy sessions” will take place in Detroit, Michigan, on Oct. 27-29, 2017. The organizers’ website explains:
“The Women’s Convention is a weekend of workshops, strategy sessions, inspiring forums and intersectional movement building. Tapping into the power of women in leadership as the fundamental, grassroots force for change, participants will leave inspired and motivated, with new connections, skills and strategies for working towards collective liberation for women of all races, ethnicities, ages, abilities, sexual identities, gender expressions, immigration statuses, religious faiths, and economic statuses.”
The choice of Detroit as a host city didn’t happen by accident. Convention organizers describe the city as “a perfect setting for women, femmes and our allies seeking to strengthen our growing, intersectional movement.” Because Detroit is a historically rich setting with historically complicated problems — “economic inequality, environmental injustice, de facto segregation, ICE raids, violent policing, and overall unequal access and opportunity” — organizers see it as a perfect place to both address those issues and celebrate social activist wins.
The only problem: Tickets for the event range from $125 to $365, leaving many unanswered questions about who gets to participate and who will be left out. Organizers say the general attendance ticket price of $295 is necessary to cover expenses and “effectively harness the power of women from all backgrounds.” Sure, there will be discounts, group offers, and scholarships, but who out of the hundreds of thousands of marchers interested in attending will be granted exceptions?
This isn’t the first time Women’s March organizers have been criticized for coming across as somewhat elitist. Women buying expensive plane tickets and hotel rooms for the march certainly didn’t help their image, and many saw the “Day Without Women” rally as exclusive to those who could afford to take off work to protest. Still, you have to meet somewhere and pay for it somehow, so detracting without offering a solution to negate that reality isn’t all that helpful either. The work of the modern feminist movement will never be done until it finds a way to bridge the gap between the privileged and historically disenfranchised, and to do that requires the brainpower of both sides.