On the 21st of January 2017, alongside over 100,000 other people in London and millions across the world in over 600 places, I marched. Whilst everyone had their own reasons for marching, I took to the streets to march against the misogynistic and sexist comments that the new President of the United States has made. I marched to show solidarity for those who will be directly affected by them. I marched in a peaceful protest for women’s rights. I marched because as a woman it is my duty to march. I marched against hate.
The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, all around the world, women and men alike took to the streets to vent their frustration. They marched against an establishment which seeks to end their fundamental rights. People all over the world stood up in solidarity for those who will be most directly affected by the new President. In the past week alone, IUD demand at Planned Parenthood has gone up by 900%. Just let that sink in for a moment – 900%. As someone who gets my birth control easily and with no cost from the NHS, I can’t imagine what it must be like for those thousands of American women who have been told they can no longer get theirs. Told over and over that their choices are no longer theirs, that they have no control over their bodies. It’s almost as if we haven’t moved on from the 1950’s.
But this march was not just about the new President. It was for women around the world. It was for the women I know who constantly get harassed on the streets and in nightclubs. It was for the women I know, and those I don’t, who have been sexually assaulted. It was for the women who have been victims of domestic violence, the women who have suffered abuse for years and lost faith in their criminal justice system. It was for the women who can’t do anything about the fact that their male counterparts earn substantially more than them for the same job. It was for women who are dealing with the new wave of male entitlement which comes with online dating. It was a march for sisters, daughters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, nieces and cousins. Yet it was also a march for those who are abused for the colour of their skin, for their origin and for their sexual orientation. It was a march which gave a voice to the underrepresented and repressed. This was a march to let you know that we are here, men and women alike, and we always will be, that we will stand up for those who can’t and that we won’t stop. In an election where the qualified women lost out to an unqualified man, this is a wakeup call around the world which shows how far away we are from gender equality.
But we still have a very long way to go. This is a fight which will take years and years, and unfortunately won’t happen overnight. It took over 100 years for women to gain the right to vote (even this hasn’t been rolled out universally), the civil rights movement took a century to come into place and it’s only in the last decade that gay marriage has started to be recognised. To say we are a long way off is somewhat of an understatement. I’m aware that true equality won’t happen in my lifetime, but I will fight for it in the name of the generations that come after me and I will to the best of my ability continue to smash the patriarchy. This march was historic. It’s the first time in history that more people marched against a president than turned up to watch the inauguration. It’s the first time that women and men marched all over the world together with a common goal. It was even enough to change the google trends overnight, which is a pretty big deal (even if the first one is still blatantly sexist). Change is coming but we can’t give up.
Some people have told me that I need to get over it, that it happened and that’s that. That marching won’t achieve anything, and I should just make the best of the situation. That I live in England so it won’t really affect me the way it will affect my American counterparts. Yet, I didn’t march with anger or hatred in me, I didn’t march in an attempt to get Trump to sit up and take notice. I marched to show solidarity to the women in America, the women whose lives are about to be drastically changed. I marched because I care about their future and I needed to show that. I marched because it is not in my character to be quiet and do nothing. So, to those people who have told me that marching is a waste of time, I would like to remind them that it is and will always be my choice to stand up for what I believe in and fight against what is wrong. I will end this blog post with the words of a woman who dedicated her life to fighting for equal rights and in doing so changed the course of history.
“I would rather be a rebel than a slave” – Emmeline Pankhurst.