We live in strange times. They got a bit stranger for me yesterday, after I wrote a post on my Salem Political Snark blog, "Salem should have another Women's March, not a Womxn's March."
Among other things, I talked about how using Womxn rather than Women didn't seem to be a wise idea, especially since the 2017 Salem Women's March was a huge success, and people thinking of attending the 2018 event would be confused by a word that is both unpronounceable and unfamiliar. I said:
My biggest concern, though, is how featuring "Womxn" in the name of the event is going to affect how Salemians view the march. Obviously the focus of the 2018 march should be on the horrors being wrought by the Trump administration, women's rights, and the "Me Too" wave of sexual harassment awareness.
Anything that detracts from this focus is a distraction. And often progressive groups get involved in unproductive disputes over who is more politically correct to the Nth degree which dissipate energy that should be directed at the real enemy: Donald Trump and his Republican cronies.
It appears that the organizers of the 2018 Salem Womxn's March have settled on that name. Well, I'm hoping that they will change their minds.
"Womxn," in case you're wondering, is another step away from having "men" right there in "women," replacing the previous "womyn" which reportedly is a white, liberal-feminist concept while "womxn" includes transgender people who identify as female, along with other marginalized womxn.
OK. Words come and go. I'm fine with that.
In my blog post I echoed what some women were saying on the Facebook page belonging to Salem Resists. Those women felt that it made more sense to use "Women" in the name of the event, especially since numerous major cities in this country are having Women's Marches on Saturday, January 20, while Salem would be having a Womxn's March on Sunday, January 21.
(Note: I've corrected the paragraph above to take out a mention that the Womxn's March is being sponsored by Salem Resists. I've been informed that Salem Resists just shared a notice of the event, but isn't sponsoring it.)
Well, my post was met with a bunch of comments from women (oops, womxn) who said that I shouldn't be talking about the upcoming event, even though my wife was a lead organizer of the 2017 Salem Women's March and I created a web page that chronicled it.
Here's an example:
Well, I don't agree that my opinion doesn't matter. Everybody's opinion matters on everything, is my writer's attitude.
Once society starts saying that only certain people can express their opinion about something, we're headed down a dangerous road that leads to censorship, limits on free speech, and obnoxiously extreme political correctness.
Philosophically, I heartily disagree with the assumption that only those who have had a certain experience -- such as being female or a racial minority -- can weigh in on certain subjects. My disagreement stems from the fact that everybody has a unique life experience.
Sure, women have their own special perspective. Yet so does everyone else. Like, to choose someone I'm pretty damn familiar with, me.
As I noted in my blog post about Women vs. Womxn, I was deeply involved with the 2017 Salem Women's March, surely more so than most or all of the women who are involved in planning for the 2018 event. As noted above, my wife was a lead organizer of the 2017 march and she kept me informed of all the goings-on.
Standing on stage during the speaking part of the event, holding onto a "tent" pole to keep the shelter from blowing over on a cold wet windy January day, I had a wonderful view of the thousands of people in attendance, who were marvelously cheerful and energetic given the blustery weather.
It was an experience I'll never forget. So I feel completely entitled to express my views about plans for the 2018 Womxn March, since I'm well aware of what worked and didn't work in 2017 (such as, the sound system needed improving, given the unexpectedly large size of the crowd).
But even if I wasn't as well informed as I am, I still believe that I'd have a perfect right to express my opinion about not only the Womxn March, but anything else that my little mind sprouts up in the fertile field of my consciousness. Free speech has few limits. I can be wrong; I can be stupid; I can be boring.
And I still can speak.
The notion expressed by the women who felt that I should be silenced because I'm a man offends me. If that sounds politically incorrect, too bad. When we start putting limits on who can express an opinion because of their sex, race, age, ethnicity, or any other characteristic, we've crossed into dangerous First Amendment territory.
Which I'm pleased to share.