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The Pink Pussy Hat: A Symbol of Shared Social Anxiety?

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The Pink Pussy Hat: A Symbol of Shared Social Anxiety?

It is difficult to assess the exact number of people who demonstrated in Washington and around the world Saturday to express their shared anxiety over recent political events. Reporters who interviewed countless individuals have made it clear that unlike most protest demonstrations there was no clear single point of focus to this movement. It was more an expression of a generalized anxiety about the future. Sound familiar? Those of us with anxiety may not be able to explain or describe it, but we can certainly recognize it in others, and sometimes fear that others will recognize it in us.

     “Enormous Crowds? Intercity bus Travel? These are not Situations that I would sign up For.”

I am certain that many of the demonstrators braved scary and uncertain social situations to attend these giant rallies. Enormous crowds? Intercity bus travel? These are not situations that I would easily sign up for. For some, however, not taking action against an uncertain future is more anxiety provoking than facing a whole host of serious triggers. Anxiety can be a gift at times, prompting us to examine our lives and take action when required. That does not mean we should berate ourselves if our personal anxiety keeps us from participating in many of the things we would like to engage in.

Despite the prevalence of pink pussy hats at the women’s march on Washington Saturday, we are not purring our way into the third tier of the women’s movement. Ever since suffragettes adopted wide brim statement hats and status symbol hat pins, hats have been symbolic of our gender’s struggle for equality.

In the first tier of the movement, early 20th century women demonstrated in attention-seeking wide-brim hats, securing them to upswept hair with prettied-up dagger-like pins. When arrested, law makers confiscated the pins, and our fore-mothers were left to face legal charges looking disheveled and witchlike. By the second tier of the movement, aptly termed ‘Women’s Liberation’, women forsook hats altogether, recognizing the many oppressive social imperatives around the wearing of the historic fashion accessory. In Canada, it was not until the late 1960s that women were no long required by law to wear hats when making court appearances.

Well, the third tier is upon us and the abundance of pointy-eared kittenish knitted caps dotted throughout the throngs of demonstrators in Washington and around the word, are evidence that women are fully prepared to fight against being declawed.

So, take heart in the fact that many of our anxieties are shared with others, and whether or not your ‘issues’ kept you from participating in the historic march on Saturday, give a nod to those who are wearing one of the new pink pussy hats or perhaps knit one for yourself. There is always a way to participate in society, even if we at times feel crippled by anxiety.

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