I always used to be quite a get-on-with-it sort of person. That’s not to say that I wasn’t engaged or that I didn’t follow the news; but following the news was probably about as far as it went. Until about a year ago, when it felt like everything changed. When instead of writing posts that were just about boys, twins, motherhood and eating marshmallows; I started writing more posts like this one. When suddenly, it felt like I would be bringing up my boys in a different world to the one I thought we lived in.
And so last Saturday, a friend and I joined around 100,000 others for the Women’s March, London. This, I thought, would be a good, positive thing to do – and it was. All those people you keep hearing saying it was life-changing…..well that’s how powerful it was. But alongside the supportive and positive comments, I have also read comments like this:
What have you got to complain about compared to women in Saudi Arabia?
The whole thing was stupid – America’s president doesn’t even affect us.
Just a bunch of women who didn’t even know what they were marching for.
Not comments made by friends, I should add. But really, one quick glance at those tells us much of what we need to know about why women were marching in the first place.
I am attempting a ‘keep-your-spirits-up-January’ – this is my own, made up thing in case you thought you were missing something; and as the month draws to a close it is proving to be quite a challenge. Anyway, for the month of January I have been attempting to write positive blog posts only and for that reason, this is not going to be a long post covering my current levels of discontent and all my reasons for marching. But, for anyone wondering what the point was in joining 100,000 others in central London last week, here are five overwhelmingly positive things I’d like to tell you about what happened last Saturday.
- We could, and so we did – surely that is a good thing? Whatever your thoughts are on current global affairs, isn’t it always reassuring to know that people are challenging and questioning what is happening? Surely none of us would ever want to live in a country where that wasn’t the case. No, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other things in the world that are worth protesting about; but can you really live your life like that? I’m not taking any action on this particular thing because there are far worse things happening in Saudi Arabia? If we applied that to everything we wanted to make a stand about, we’d never get anything done. Ultimately, we don’t know what will come of any of this; but we can be certain that events in America will affect us, because what happens in America affects the world. Perhaps time will reveal that we had no need to be concerned; but if we look at where we are after only one week of Mr Trump’s administration, somehow I doubt it. So I will continue to make a fuss where I think fuss is necessary, and we should be thankful that we have the right to do so.
- Again, whatever your thoughts, the messages from the march were overwhelmingly positive ones: the power of education, the need to build bridges, having the confidence to speak out, togetherness, respect for each other, looking after our planet; and making our own choices. All good things, surely?
- This was the most open, friendly, positive protest you could imagine, and I felt proud to be part of it. You could talk to the person next to you and be confident of getting a friendly response. Such were the numbers that my friend and I, plus a hundred or so others, spent at least half an hour stuck by a hedge in Grosvenor Square unable to make our way out to join the march proper; but still, no-one pushed or shoved or was unpleasant. People mentioned their cold feet and being desperate for a cuppa, of course they did; but no-one made things difficult for anyone else. Even when at 3pm, the M & S in Green Park completely ran out of sandwiches; people happily made do with pastries or sausage rolls instead. This was positive and civilised and polite and, whatever your politics, surely we can all be happy that so many people can come together in this way.
- “Women’s march”, they said, “why do we need a special march for women?” Well you only need to have a listen to Mr Trump’s repulsive ‘locker room banter’ to get an idea of why so many women wanted to take action. Because really, how can we look our children in the eye and say that yes, this man is now the most powerful man in the world and that’s ok? So yes, it was a march led by women, but a quick look around showed you how inclusive it was. There were men, there were women, there were children. There were all ages and races and religions. There was dancing, there was colour, there were drums, there was creativity, and there was a man sketching as he walked. Good sketches too. It was different things to different people; all of them valid and all of them real.
- Across the pond they made it the largest US protest in history. And here in London, over 100,000 people came together in a peaceful, joyful way to say we’d like a more positive and less divisive future for us and our children. Over 100,000 people and not a single arrest. Not one.
So call it stupid, call it pointless, call it vacuous if you will. Actually, it was anything but. This is what women can do when they come together, and surely this is what the world needs more than ever.