Student activists from UNT partnered with students from Texas Woman’s University to commemorate International Women’s Day on Wednesday by organizing a march to the Square.
Denton’s International Women’s Strike started at 11 a.m. with tabling and speak-outs on both university campuses, which led into separate marches to Denton Square where there was a community rally accompanied by local speakers.
Though the main goal this year was to have a Day Without Women, organizers planned alternative ways for citizens to show support, either by refusing to buy from non women-owned entities or by wearing red in solidarity.
“Personally, I’m out here to also represent indigenous women,” Stephanie Plancarte, 20 year old UNT alumna and co-organizer of the event said. “When you think of a women’s march you think of middle-aged white women getting mad that they don’t get paid the same amount as men. And that’s really the only fight I guess that they have. And so that’s something some people stereotype women’s marches with, and it’s really not.”
Several university organizations joined in planning the strike, including the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, GLBTQ Legal Advocates Defenders at UNT, the International Socialist Organization, Industrial Workers of the World and the Sanctuary Coalition.
There were complications during the rally though, after it was discovered that one of the members of the crowd was YouTuber Steven Crowder, who had been impersonating transgender women with a friend.
Crowder took video of the event, which contains interviews with other protesters and documents the impersonation and will allegedly be uploaded to Crowder’s channel tomorrow. His channel consists of “pop culture and politics from the most politically incorrect comedy channel on the web,” according to its “about” section.
“We’re in 2017 for crying out loud,” Plancarte said. “We’re trying to fight for women’s inclusivity, like trans-women. A lot of people are like, ‘they’re not women.’ Yes, they are.”
According to the International Women’s Strike website, IWS was established by women from many areas of the world as a response to the wide range of social and economic problems experienced by contemporary women across demographics, and now has participants in over 50 countries.
A variety of opinionated students and citizens appeared on the Square both to show support and solidarity with the women’s movement and to express concerns with their ideologies.
A flier hung around campus last week called for “an end to gender violence, especially towards working women, trans women, and women of color. Reproductive justice, labor rights, and environmental justice for all.”
Women like retired operating room nurse Kate Lindsey expressed their solidarity with women’s health concerns and Planned Parenthood, the future of which is uncertain as President Donald Trump and other Republicans have expressed opposition to its practices.
“I believe that the women whom I’ve cared for deserve equal care, and they don’t always get it,” Lindsey said.
Entrepreneurship student and protester Xylia Castillo said she marched for women worldwide, which is the message UNT’s International Socialist Organization, a Marxist-Leninist organization, wanted to voice.
But the event was not without its critics. Pre-business freshman Ethan Hanson said he felt the women’s movement had become “disjointed” and more focus should be placed on specific goals, something he said Wednesday’s march lacked.
“Anytime a movement or a group of people start fracturing in their ideologies, it dies pretty quick,” Hanson said. “It’s becoming less focused, as you can see by [the topics on] their signs.”
The wide range of issues being protested at the event represent the intersectionality of civil rights issues according to activists, which is defined by Susan Shaw and Janet Lee’s textbook Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions as “the intersection or coming together of multiple identities like race, ethnicity, social class, and so forth.”
Vanessa Irene, a graduate student in applied analytics, praised the demonstration early in the day and expressed full support for the day’s events.
“It’s very good that they celebrate women,” Irene said. “Women are special. The world is nothing without women. [They] bring joy and happiness to everybody, so it’s good that there is a day to celebrate them.”