As millions of women marched in cities around the world, wearing pink hats and carrying signs that said “Not my president!” many others stayed home, insisting that the Women’s March and what it stands for doesn’t represent their views.
Bubbling up from the progressive, left-leaning activism of the Women’s March comes the nascent counter-protest movement Right2Speak, whose leaders say many women have felt excluded by “the clamor and rhetoric of the far left" and is using the hashtags #notmyprotest and #weshowup and on social media.
Amy Clark and Toni Anne Deshiell, both of whom are leaders in the Texas Republican Party, launched the nonprofit 501-c4 about two weeks ago, describing Right2Speak as a movement for conservative women who are “hard-working, free-thinking, liberty-loving.”
The Women's March activism "really speaks to just the extreme far left," said Clark, a mother of three who also is a self-employed marketing consultant living in Three Rivers, Texas. The leaders of that movement "co-opted our entire gender and called it the Women's March and said women should participate in this. When they talked about 'A Day Without a Woman,' to me, that just put me over the edge. You know? They are calling for women to sit out on the sidelines. We know better, and they should, too."
The Women's March urges women across the country to wear red and skip work Wednesday, boycott spending except from women-owned and minority-owned business, and take other actions to show their economic might on International Women's Day.
Clark called that irresponsible.
"That's not the way that you make a difference. That's not the way you make change," she said. "To change things, you need to be part of the discussion. This strike ... punishes kids at schools in districts that are shutting down, they're punishing the parents of kids in those school districts, businesses where women work. Punishing them it isn't the idea. It's childish, frankly."
Instead, Right2Speak says women should show up to work, and be active in their communities.
Clark will attend a Right2Speak luncheon in San Antonio, Texas. Similar luncheons are planned in two other states Wednesday as well, Ohio and Wisconsin.
And though she and co-founder Deshiell are involved in GOP political leadership in Texas, she said Right2Speak has no party affiliation.
"It's a completely independent effort of people who were frankly just fed up with it," Clark said. "We just wanted to form a counterbalance so the other side is heard. We represent all the voices, even the ones who don't agree with us. But to have a constructive debate, you need to be able to speak. That's what it's about: bringing back an atmosphere where we can debate and discuss our differences. As women if we want to move forward in the business and political sector, whatever role we choose, we need to respect one another's voices."
To learn more about Right2Speak, go to www.right2speak.org.
Although there are no Right2Speak Power Lunch events in Michigan, an event in Toledo is listed on Eventbrite. It runs 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Spaghetti Warehouse, 42 S. Superior. For details or to register, go to http://bit.ly/2mgVo9p.