The Women’s March changing Unity Principles

I was really excited to see that the Women’s March’s Unity Principles said that they “stand in solidarity with sex workers’ rights movements”. To my knowledge this is the first time such a big feminist gathering has explicitly acknowledged and included sex workers. It’s a really big deal. The Unity Principles really inspired me with how broad, inclusive and intersectional they were.

Yesterday the language on the website changed several times and there was a lack of transparency about the changes and why they happened. Refinery 29 does a good job of summarizing what happened. As a feminist, a librarian and former sex worker I was so pissed. Discussing and debating with friends on Facebook about what was and wasn’t in the Unity Principles felt like being gaslit.

Once my anger levels had dropped I realized that some librarian skills might be useful in documenting what kind of changes were happening, as organizers were not being transparent. I wish I had the foresight to set up something to monitor changes to the website in the morning. I asked on Twitter for recommendations on how to do this and got some great suggestions.

I set up accounts with both Versionista (thanks Andrew Berger for the suggestion!) and OnWebChange (thanks Peter Binkley!) Both were easy to set up. For Versionista there was a 7 day free upgrade that I’ll need to cancel so I’m not billed. With the free version on OnWebChange it will only check the website I’m tracking once every 24 hours. I’m assuming you need to upgrade to access the greyed out options of 5 min, 30 min, 1 hour, 2 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours. You also need to upgrade to the paid version to access Diff Reports. I was only concerned about how the language around sex workers’ rights was changing in the Unity Principles, so this wasn’t a deal breaker for me.

With the upgrade Versionista had more functionality. This morning I manually ran a check and saw that a new page for sponsors has been added to the Women’s March website. I couldn’t see how to automatically schedule checks.

screenshot showing changes to Women's March Unity Principles using Versionista

DocNow has created a tool called DiffEngine that I think does something similar. Unfortunately I don’t have the technical skills required to set this up and run it. Still, I’m glad it’s out there.

I wanted to also track the versions of the longer 5 page PDF of the Guiding Vision and Definition of Principles as people reported that it had also changed throughout yesterday. I didn’t get around to this.

Janet Mock’s beautiful statement was much needed heart balm for me. This is the bit that made me cry:

We will not be free until those most marginalized, most policed, most ridiculed, pushed out and judged are centered. There are no throwaway people, and I hope every sex worker who has felt shamed by this momentarily erasure shows up to their local March and holds the collective accountable to our vast, diverse, complicated realities.

In the preface to How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir, Amber Dawn writes:

…it revealed a larger truth—that to listen to and include sex workers’ voices in dialogue is a skill that we have not yet developed, just as we have not learned how to include the voices of anyone who does not conform to accepted behaviours or ideas.

Here are some of the amazing sex workers and sex worker activists I follow on Twitter. I encourage you to listen to what they have to say: Amber Dawn, Mistress Matisse, PACE SocietyLorelei Lee, Chanelle Gallant.


The Women’s March website was edited again between 11:45am and 12:15pm to add “disabled women” in the first paragraph before Muslim women and lesbians. Here’s a screenshot. 
screenshot showing the addition of disabled women to the first paragraph of the Unity Principles page

While I appreciate the coalition of organizers are handling a bunch of logistics for the march in Washington the way this page is being edited is a reflection of what’s been going on in mainstream feminist organizations for a long time. Who is included and who are the people who are being thrown away?

2 Replies to “The Women’s March changing Unity Principles”

  1. I would like to suggest that you see these changes as the results of ongoing conversations – not as “being gaslit”. We have been fortunate enough to have this march and other women’s groups as catalysts to conversation around inclusivity. The changes may not be transparent, but they are taking place in real time, and cannot be ideal.

    I also believe there is a sense of urgency here. The Right has won this election because they were all willing to work together. We must do the same. Groups like the Women’s March and white feminists must still own our mistakes, but if we wait for those conversations and changes to conclude, we will lose time to those in the Trump administration who would marginalize and exclude even further.

  2. Conversations around inclusion in mainstream feminist organizations and representations have been happening for a long time. Women of Colour, disability rights activists, trans women, queers, and sex workers are just some of the people who have fought to broaden the feminist movement.

    I agree that Trump is terrifying and that everyone’s rights are going to be under attack. I worry most for the people who experience the most social exclusion and marginalization as they will feel this soonest and the most.

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