So I marched. It rained and the wind blew, all the way there. I met the women in my local Islington/Hackney Amnesty International group beneath the pink balloons in a crowded pub in Covent Garden. After a drink to warm us up for the march, we walked over to Trafalgar Square where there were various women assembling and putting together their banners for the march that was organised and lead by The London Feminist Network. The rain had stopped as darkness fell. I looked around in disappointment at the group gathering. I had hoped or even expected that there would be more women. Perhaps it was the memory of a packed Trafalgar Square during the summer months and protests against the Israeli attack on Lebanon. Regardless, I was happy to be there and spoke to the women around me about why we had gathered.
For some, it was not clear why the march was only open to women. We discussed women having a space where they feel safe as well as the strength of women marching together in solidarity. To me it was to show that as women we have the right to walk safely at night anywhere we choose without the fear of being raped or attacked. There were clearly women who thought men should be allowed to join the march and those that felt strongly about marching wholey as a group of independent women. It did feel empowering to be together as women and feel as though we were standing up against violence and together showing that we are not willing to accept it as a way of life.
Aside from being together and believing in something strongly enough to march about it, I felt support and attention coming from onlookers as we marched. Men and women cheering us on. As well as football fans trying to shout us out and being pushed back into the pub by the police. The police that were escorting us along the way. I had asked the organiser of my local AI group why they were there, implying that these feminists might get a bit crazy and how really unlikely I found that to be. But she mentioned that was not the case, rather they were there for our protection in case anyone was to act out violently against us. Hmmm. Wasn’t that why we were here in the first place?
Sometimes I live in a world where I am so optimistic that I can’t even see these events on the horizon. Other times I suffer from what I call the “Little Man Tate Syndrome’ where I can’t lift my head above all the negativity and pessimism.
After the march I looked online to see if there were any photos or articles referring to the event. There weren’t many photos aside from those of the women leading the march, but there were a few comments left on the site which popped my bubble of optimism as I read about how ‘there isn’t a problem with violence against women and why are we marching about it when there are so many other things to protest about?’ We are ‘just a bunch of feminists.’ Blah. Blah. Blah. It’s amazing to me how anyone has the balls to say such things when ONE in THREE women will be a victim of sexual/domestic violence, sexual assault, or verbal abuse. ONE in THREE. I recently watched a short film at the Backlash Event put on by the Why Women campaign at the Amnesty Human Rights Centre last month exhibiting a clear outline of this statistic: a man walks down the street and as he counts in his head — one. two. three. — he lashes out violently at each third woman with the last one being his wife, hidden behind closed doors.
There are a number of reasons I marched on the 25th of November. One of them was for Katie. One of them was for the women in my life that have been victims of domestic violence of any form. One of them was for me. Because I have the right not to be afraid.
I have photos of the event, but am still having trouble figuring out how to resise them in order to upload them. I also took a little too long to write about the event, so some of the ‘fire’ in my feelings has disipated…until next time.