Women's March London - Why I Marched
Unless you've been avoiding every media outlet possible this weekend, you'll be aware of the wonderful women's marches that took place across the globe on Saturday. The Women's March London was one of the most powerful things I have ever been involved in - in fact, probably the most powerful. Yes it's shit that we're having to march and fight against a dated perspective that is fueled by fear and judgement, but I was also empowered by how far we've come. The protests of the past have been separate - black people marching alone, women marching alone, gay people marching alone - often at the ridicule of others. This was something entirely different, here I was with 100,000 women, men and children, from every single race and religion, who were gay, straight, bi, trans. You name it, we were all there. We were marching for ourselves, but also for each other. And I didn't see anyone laughing or daring to stop us. I felt extraordinarily proud to have been a part of this moment in history, as sad as the circumstances were.
Over the next week, there will be hundreds of stories being published about why we marched - about the politics, about the statistics, about the impact. But I want to share some of my more personal reasons for marching on Saturday. Why I felt it integral to stand up against a power who is spreading fear, hate and injustice. This isn't just about one man, it is so much more than that.
And so, I marched...
- Because sexism is so ingrained into our societies and systems, that one of the most common female conditions, endometriosis, is misdiagnosed and undiagnosed in women all over the world, for years and even decades.
- Because women's reproductive health is still regarded as taboo, yet according to one of the most powerful men in the world, grabbing pussy unashamedly is not.
- Because our health system is skewed towards the male physiology. Check this Ted talk out.
- Because if endometriosis was found in testicles, we'd have a cure by now.
- Because every month I am filled with panic as I try to think of another reason of explaining my ill health at work without letting people know I'm on my period.
- Because the medical industry doesn't seem alarmed by the links between depression and female contraceptives, but trials for men have continuously been halted due to concerns for men's emotional well being and mental health.
- Because I have been sexually assaulted on my daily commute, on nights out, in the office. The details: I had my vagina and backside rubbed for 30 mins by another passenger on a packed train because I had no where to move to and I was scared no one would do anything or believe me if I spoke up, I have had my hair pulled and throat grabbed and forcefully kissed in one man's pursuit to get me to have sex with him (it didn't work), I have had one of the senior managers in an old work place, who I genuinely saw as a role model and who I believed respected and admired me, causally feel me up and act like nothing happened.
- Because when I was a teenager the boys I dated called me frigid as I didn't want to have sex with them.
- Because when I went out in skirts and dresses as a teenager I had men and women call me a slut.
- Because my Spanish teacher at school told us that women belong in the kitchen.
- Because I didn't leave a relationship for five years as I was petrified of having acid thrown in my face, having my face 'carved up' or my family being killed, as I was often told would happen if I did.
- Because when I broke my spine and hips in a car crash and was temporarily paralysed, the first thing I thought was 'it will be easier for someone to rape me like this'.
- Because rape is my biggest fear and a very real one for all women.
- Because rapists can avoid jail by marrying their victims, can claim custody of a child born out of rape and because abortion is illegal still in so many countries, whether you've been raped or not.
- Because I went to a school where a student hid her belongings in her locker until she had everything ready to run away, so she wasn't forced into an under-age marriage.
- Because I'm attracted to and have been with women, but have always been too scared by my family's reactions to identify as bisexual.
- Because my friends and I have beautiful, varying skin tones and rich cultural backgrounds and open views on sex and love.
- Because I have seen men less qualified than me and less experienced, climb above me in the career ladder, despite the fact that I started on that ladder first.
- Because I want to live in a world where I no longer hear about gang rape, or girls missing school due to their periods, or females being banished from their towns for being attacked.
Because if we don't stand up and fight for what we believe in, all the above will become more frequent and more normal and we will be taking huge strides backwards, where we should be moving forward into a world where these issues do not exist.