If you’re not a woman, it’s a pink hat

Men. Stop calling the wonderful pink knit caps donned in the women’s march, and everywhere it seems, using the p-word. It’s not our word. They’re not our bodies. It’s not our oppression. We don’t get to use that word.

As allies, men, we can show respect and solidarity by donning our kitty hats, pink hats, women’s march hats, whatever-you-want-to-call-them hats—but not with a word that has long been offensive to women when used in public.

Often oppressed groups co-opt words used to denigrate them as mechanisms of empowerment. But for the same reason that I, as a White person, am not going to use the n-word to refer to a Black person, I’m not going to use a word just because women are choosing to use as an act of public resistance. It’s just not our word to use. We might be reminded, also, that the word was chosen because it’s the specific word our president used  disrespectfully toward women.

This is about the common conditions into which some people are born in our society, and others aren’t. In the words of Marc Lamont Hill, Professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, “I might see Trinidad James on the street and call him ‘my nigga.’ You know why? Because he is my nigga. And the difference between Trinidad James and you, is that Trinidad James has to deal with the same oppressive situations. He was born into a world where anti-black racism prevails. He lives in a world where police might shoot him on the street no matter how much money he has. We share a collective condition known as ‘nigga.’ White people don’t.”

Women are born into a patriarchy where misogyny, glass ceilings, systemic oppression, and violence against their bodies are real threats. That they took to the streets this week wearing pink hats, in such numbers, is an inspiration. That men joined them is also inspiring. Just don’t call it that. Show some respect!

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