Why I Will March on 20th January 2017

By Noa Sasson-Brooks

The Women’s March is this Saturday, and we should all be going.
When I first heard about the Women’s March on Washington, I thought it sounded so important that I found myself trying to justify buying a flight to Washington…even though I am not American. I read the agenda and my heart wept, because it was the most inclusive political document I had ever read. 1200 buses have applied for parking on the day of the march, compared to just 200 for the inauguration. This is important.

The march organisers seemed to have faced pressure in recent days regarding a paragraph which states “we stand in solidarity with sex workers…” they briefly edited out that line, then edited it right back in. This is the real deal, folks. A feminism which includes everyone. People of colour, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, sex workers, EVERYONE. 

This is a movement which has spread across the globe. At the time of writing there are over 600 sister marches planned, 14 of which are in the UK. I don’t think there has been a grassroots political event of this scale in my lifetime. And yet, I don’t see it being given a lot of coverage. Certainly, it deserves a lot more. This is a march which represents the rights of literally half the population. The inclusive nature, the far reaching relevance, is demonstrated by the wide variety of organisations supporting the London march:

Amnesty International, Greenpeace, ActionAid UK, Oxfam GB, Women’s Equality Party, The Green Party, Pride London, Democrats Abroad UK, Syria Solidarity Campaign, Unite the Union, Black Pride, Solidarity with Refugees, WOW, NUS, British Scientists for the EU, She Speaks We Hear, Women 4 Refugee Women, 50:50 Parliament, Women in Leadership, The Equality Trust, Verve UK, Daughters of Eve, Womankind Worldwide, The English Collective of Prostitutes, ActionForRefugeesInLewisham, Latin American Women’s Aid, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Soroptimist International, Women in Prison, Stop The War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Left Unity, UK SAYS NO MORE, Inquest, Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Women Against Rape, WinVisible, QueerStrike, Women of Colour Global Women’s Strike, Women’s Aid, Morning Gloryville, Payday Men’s Network.

The Women’s March in London has considerations for people with disabilities and marchers with children, to make the day more accessible. I will be bringing my 2 year old and 4 year old daughters, for their first march. The London march Facebook group has 25k people listed as going and a further 31k interested.

I am excited about this, and I will tell you why. After the  US Presidential election I felt devastated, like much of the world, and powerless, like women everywhere. Like how…

I feel powerless when the creepy guy stares at me and I don’t know how to make him stop.

I felt powerless both times I was felt up on public transport and was too young to know what to say.

I even felt powerless when I was felt up on public transport and was old enough to know what to say.

I feel powerless when I’m spoken to sarcastically, with a laugh and a slow nod, and not able to demonstrate that I’m not stupid or emotional, but right.

I feel powerless when I try to stream Disney films for my children but get inundated with porn popups.

I feel powerless when people direct questions to my husband instead of me.

I feel powerless when interviewers ask me about my childcare arrangements.

I feel powerless when I’ve got literally nothing to watch on Amazon Prime or Netflix because I’ve watched everything with a female non-sexualised protagonist, which passes the Bechdel test.

I feel powerless when I look at this world and think of my daughters, who will soon be navigating this patriarchy as self-conscious and confused teenagers, and knowing the damages they will simply have to endure before they can grow, and then fight.

I feel powerless as I watch the complex web of discrimination faced by women with disabilties, women of colour, LGBT women, Muslim women…and as an able-bodied white feminist I want to be an ally but the scope of my power is so very limited…

I feel powerless that society wonders why women stay in abusive relationships, but not why men are abusing them.

I feel powerless when women with post-natal depression are dismissed as being ‘just’ hormonal.

I feel powerless that schools teach girls how to stay safe and not get raped, but boys are not taught not to rape, and neither is taught about consent.

I felt powerless when the UK voted to leave the EU amid a xenophobic rhetoric.

I feel powerless as the government brutally assassinates the NHS, tortures the school system, shreds our environment, steals from the poor and gives to the rich….

I felt powerless when I had to watch a knowledgeable, experienced, educated woman be rudely challenged by a stupid man who had no idea what he was talking about; watched her resist the urge to scream “shut up” while pretending his ignorance was worthy of her time and response; enduring his emotional outbursts, the likes of which would instantly end her own political career if she displayed them, and responding calmly and intelligently and respectfully; and watching her lose to an opponent who was simply not worthy of her, because a man’s ignorance will always be given more weight than a woman’s experience simply because it is spoken in a deeper voice.

So that is why I will march. To give myself the illusion of feeling, just for a moment, that I am not completely powerless.

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About Gender + the City

Intersectional Feminist digital magazine

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