The 2019 Women’s March was a controversial one. While the march was riddled with scandal, boycotts and accusations of antisemitism, there was one picture of a sign that caught the attention and stole the hearts of women all around the world.
The viral photo features a man holding a sign with the phrase “She’s someone’s sister/mother/daughter/wife” crossed out so that only “She’s someone” remains. This simple gesture of crossing out the commonly used phrases of “she’s someone’s daughter” or “she’s someone’s mother” was a reserved yet bold gesture that spoke volumes to many women and girls.
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Too often a woman must rely on her relation to men in order to be valued or humanized. It is implied that women are often not seen as worthy without connection to someone else. After a woman suffers abuse or assault or simply demands equal rights, many step up with what is seemingly a harmless trope of attempting to connect victims to men. This is a fragile argument that perpetuates a patriarchal and misogynistic lack of visible female humanity. Women and girls do not require men’s excessive protection but rather their support and recognition as equal human beings.
For example, during the 2016 presidential election, it was revealed that Donald Trump had boasted about his poor treatment of women, saying “I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”
In the aftermath of this, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) declared that “As the father of three daughters I strongly believe that Trump needs to apologize directly to women and girls everywhere.”
While this may have been stated with good intentions, referencing his daughters as the reason for the need for an apology negated his point altogether. Having women in his family and home shouldn’t have been his sole reason for his disdain for what President Trump said. It should be noted that McConnell now is considered to be controlled by Trump, and he strongly spoke against Christine Blasey Ford (who accused Brett Kavanaugh of physical and sexual assault), demanded that her accusations were part of a democratic “smear campaign” and has been considered an advocate against women many times.
The man who made and held the sign identified himself on Twitter as Zac Markin. On Instagram, he shared the photo (amongst other pictures from the New York version of the march). He captioned the photo with a long paragraph, detailing that, “We hear this line ‘She’s someone’s sister/mother/daughter/wife’ so often that it’s overlooked, even praised. This logic implies that without her relatives there is no worth,” and that, “In nearly every aspect from strength to fashion, I’m most inspired by women.”
The outpour of support for a simple sign advocating for the humanization of women exemplifies women’s desire to be truly seen, and the exhaustion with requiring connecting men to a situation in order for it to be gain legitimacy.