The Women’s March organizers are bringing their pink “kitty” hats to Detroit later this month to host a convention, the latest iteration of the popular marches that took place in Washington, D.C., and around the country in January.
That’s good news for Detroit, as women from all over will descend on the Motor City. About 2,400 have reportedly signed up so far, and the conference isn’t cheap at nearly $300 a ticket.
Seeing women come together and demonstrate their power is wonderful, but from the beginning the Women’s March has been about one thing: Protesting President Donald Trump. And grief that Hillary Clinton didn’t become the first woman in the Oval Office.
Fine, except the group claims to be “inclusive” and for “unity.” When reading through the convention agenda and looking at confirmed speakers, however, it’s clear organizers are shutting out a large swath of American women: conservatives.
The convention is dubbed “Reclaiming our time.” Yet all this resistance comes at a time when women have a lot to celebrate.
The list of women in power in and out of the Trump administration is impressive. Kellyanne Conway is counselor to the president; Betsy DeVos of Grand Rapids is Education Secretary; Hope Hicks is White House communications director; Sarah Huckabee Sanders is press secretary; Nikki Haley is ambassador to the United Nations; Ronna McDaniel, also from Michigan, is chairwoman of the Republican National Committee; and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen is on her way to sitting on the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
But were any of these successful and influential women invited to speak in Detroit? No way. It’s as if women on the left can’t bring themselves to acknowledge their right-leaning counterparts. Black conservatives face similar shunning in their community.
“Liberals paint women into a corner as single issue voters and insist voting against the Democratic Party is going ‘against their own voice,’ ” McDaniel said in a statement. “The advancement of women is something I care passionately about. The sooner the liberal movement realizes that maybe they don’t actually speak for all women and begin to listen to what the other side has to say, the sooner we can start working together to find real solutions that work for everyone.”
Carrie Lukas, president of Independent Women’s Forum, which teaches women about personal liberty and free markets, isn’t surprised to see the convention’s agenda. She says many of the Women’s March principles are less about promoting women and more about advancing a far-left agenda.
“Conservative women or pro-life women are not welcome,” Lukas says. “It’s a shame.”
I asked Sumaiya Ahmed Sheikh, who is on the local host committee, whether any conservative or Republican women were invited to speak or be on a panel. She had to check and get back me.
Her reply: “We have speakers who align with the unity principles of the Women’s March. Everyone is welcome.”
Those principles are: civil rights, reproductive justice, gender justice, anti-violence and immigrant rights.
Christen Pollo, executive director of Students for Life of Michigan, was disappointed when it became clear how closed-minded the Women’s March was to other views. Pro-life women were explicitly asked not to come to the D.C. march.
“We were really excited to be a part of it,” says Pollo, who describes herself as a feminist. “There are a lot of things we can unite on and have in common. But somehow we are less important than feminists who are pro-choice.”
And the convention is no different. Sponsors of the event include Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List (a group that helps elect pro-choice Democratic women).
Among the liberal celebrities and activists, the list of speakers highlights politicians U.S. Reps. Maxine Waters and Brenda Lawrence, state Rep. Stephanie Chang, Detroit councilwoman Raquel Castañeda Lopez, and former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib — all Democrats.
“This convention is welcome to anyone and everyone,” says Ahmed Sheikh. “We are engaging and empowering all women.”
Unless you’re a conservative woman.
Pollo says she’s not planning to go to the convention, given the clear message that her views aren’t accepted.
“They are alienating a lot of women,” Pollo says. “I’m not too threatened, and it’s only going to hurt them in the end.”