This Saturday 21 January was ‘the Women’s March’ – what a name.
Let’s not have this be down played or be modest! It was massive – it was amazing. What took place was a worldwide stand of resistance and potentially one of the greatest days of demonstration in our history. Women (and men) all over the world in Iraq, Iceland, Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, France and on and on, identified themselves as a collective and stood together in solidarity.
The organisers of the flagship march in Washington have said that 673 marches took place all over the world (for the full list of all cities click here: https://www.womensmarch.com/sisters).
This flagship march was arranged on the day following President Trump’s inauguration – a reaction to Trump’s campaign and a collective mourning / show of solidarity for all groups and individuals who have already been affected or are likely to be by Trump’s presidency.
In some respect, each person present at each march would have been aware of this and we were all probably in general responding to the appointment of a figure like Trump, united against the ideology that he wanted to put into practice. But it also rose and spilled these banks – becoming something personal to each individual.
I went to the London march. I’ve been to other marches in the past for various things and you start to learn there’s a ‘drill’. Familiar resident protesters with the right chants, the right sound systems, the whistles and drums – the reused placards pre-printed and generic. Generally marching for something tangible/measurable – for example, to influence a vote or pressurise government on a particular issue.
But this was something else entirely. Trump was in – the vote had been cast. But here were generations of women and men from all backgrounds with different heritages, ideas and beliefs marching for..? Yes against Trump’s appointment – but while we had come together in response to him, we were also all there for our own reasons. This was made immediately clear by the placards. The majority of the placards were homemade and all varied. From an 11 year old year girl standing grumpily declaring she just wanted girls to be able to ‘do what they want’ to older generations frustrated that changes they’d fought for still hadn’t come. There were women (and men) standing against persecution of their faith and sexual preference, environmentalists and welfare supporters and then there was one young woman just saying ‘50% of all t-rex’s were female’. Each sign was different, each reaction personal – but all of us were standing together in recognition and support of each other.
There was limited chanting and for the most part the large mass remained fairly quiet as we walked through London’s streets. It was taken seriously, we took each other seriously. We walked in remembrance of injustices already suffered, ground never securely gained and of the losses that were inevitably to come. And we stood in acknowledgement of this impending loss together. A wall of people standing defiant as the inevitable Trump tidal wave swells and rises bearing down upon them.
I was unfortunately seriously hungover (following my sister’s 30th birthday). I’d had to concentrate on my breathing on the tube just to stop my body bringing up the contents of my stomach. My face was pallid and there were dark pits under my eyes. As I walked out of Bond Street station and tried to join the crowd – which had spilled out into all the side streets surrounding Grosvenor’s Square – I looked at the people around me, and be it the alcohol inevitably still in my bloodstream and my lack of sleep (or not), but I felt like I recognised their faces. I had the strongest sense that I had seen these women before, that I could have reached out and we would have known each other. It was overwhelming. Looking at those faces – I was taken aback at how beautiful they all were. (Ohhh the mighty powers of a hangover and a period striking together!)
I went with one of my best friends Sula and we caught up, laughed, jumped, sobered, cuddled, held hands, danced around – at times exhilarated then frustrated, at times feeling it was pointless and then that it wasn’t. It was cold and we stuck our hands in our pockets. But when we turned the right corner, the sun shone and illuminated everyone.
‘Bloody nora, if only these were the faces running the whole blimmin’ show’! I yelled. But seriously – wouldn’t it all just look SO MUCH BETTER. And I’m not even talking about it LITERALLY LOOKING SO MUCH BETTER. The banner of ‘women’ had welcomed and united.
But to sum up, while we won’t be able to measure the effect of what took place on Saturday, something incredibly special did happen and I was glad to have been there.
This post, as you may have realised by now, isn’t to recommend anyone. But it is for the love of all the people who took part on Saturday, for all the people represented who didn’t, for what was achieved and the budding of a powerful collective that I hope is capable of accomplishing positive change.
Hopefully see you all again soon..
(On a very sad side note, on his first day in office Trump has already stopped funding to clinics in other countries that provide abortion services to women. And we saw yesterday a suspension of all refugees entering the US from certain middle eastern countries obviously arising from increasing Islamophobia – just seriously, fuck you Trump.)