For the last few weeks, women have been taking a stand against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Whether they've been discoursing on Twitter or taking to the streets, women of all kinds have been showing up to keep an alleged sexual assaulter off the court. And Hollywood's recent involvement in the protests have brought even more awareness to this important civil unrest.
Yesterday, Amy Schumer and Emily Ratajkowski made the news for joining a sit-in at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington D.C.. Schumer is the cousin of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and is an active advocate for women's rights and gun control. Ratajkowski also has a long history of supporting women's equality.
Despite the actresses' meaningful contributions to the protest itself (Schumer was taped speaking at the sit-in), their participation hasn't been the center of their media coverage.
However, videos have surfaced of the stars' "arrests." The police ask the women if they'd like to be arrested, hand them wristbands, then escort them out of the building. It was a largely calm affair, with no handcuffs, no weapons, and no struggle. And while all interactions between the police and protestors should probably look like this, we know they don't.
People of color who protest in the United States are often met with tear gas, pepper spray, and gunpoint. They experience arrest in a much different way than Schumer and Ratajkowski ever would. They are stopped and frisked. They are brutalized. And they are met with handcuffs instead of wristbands.
It's difficult to label Schumer and Ratajkowski's interaction with the police as an "arrest" when we know what arrest really looks like for people of color. They are lucky to come out of an "arrest" alive. And they're often arrested without doing any wrong. White women are given the ability to speak without facing the same fears WOC face. And that's a privilege. It gives them a stronger voice in politics, in policy, and in all aspects of social life.
But hearing about white women getting arrested makes white American women feel good. It alleviates us of some of the guilt we should experience for propping up a justice system that brutalizes people of color. That's why this "arrest" will be shared on Twitter and why it will be written about in magazines.
Women shouldn't be arrested for supporting women and peacefully protesting. But white women should also realize their arrests are a lesser trauma than what their sisters can experience for speeding, forgetting to pay a fine, or, really, simply existing. Your race still impacts your experience with the justice system, and we can't forget that.
Schumer and Ratajkowski's arrests remind us that in our fight for women's equality, intersectionality is key. White women experience privilege, even in our lowest moments. Even when it seems like we live in a country that hates women of all kinds.
And with Brett Kavanaugh's nomination moving forward, that seems to feel truer every day.