This morning, I fell out of bed and stumbled in my PJs out the door into the biting London cold to rummage in the trash. Yes, you read that correctly. I was rummaging for cardboard to make a sign for today’s Women’s March on London. In 45 minutes, I transformed a former Zara box into what I (rather proudly) am calling my feminist masterpiece. It’s a real chef d’oeuvre that needs no interpretation, as you can see.
Getting to Grosvenor Square today was oddly enjoyable as women around the tube platforms smiled discreetly at each other. It was like we were all in Fight Club and we knew about Fight Club but we were going to honour Fight Club by only slightly acknowledging that we were in this Feminist Fight Club.
I’ve always wondered how revolutions would go down differently if they were organized by women. Today’s peaceful march in London was the most goddamn pleasant protest I’ve ever encountered. Women lined up in orderly queues to use the toilets before the march (always a necessity before a trip, right mom?). Strangers looked out for toddlers who donned bright pink pussy hats as their mothers ran to M&S to grab snacks and water. People said, “Excuse me” and “No, after you” and “Do you need help?”Passerbys yelled out, “I like your sign!” and women replied, “Yours too! Enjoy your march! Stay warm!” Despite feeling emotionally drained after a terrible night of denial (re: He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s Inauguration), it was nice to wake up and smile at people and chuckle at their signage.
The march started out in front of the U.S. Embassy in London. My former place of employment, I am no stranger to Grosvenor Square but I can honestly say I have never seen it so jam-packed with people. My friend, who was running late, messaged me saying, “Hey do you want to just meet by Eisenhower’s statue?” I chuckled as I wrote a response, “… Do you know how many people are here right now? I don’t think there will be any “just meeting”,” I thought to myself.
The turnout was phenomenal and as an American living in London, I cannot begin to express how supported and comforted I felt by the presence of thousands of fellow Americans, but also Brits. Britain, France, India– so many different women from all different ethnicities came to shout to the world, “This is not normal, but we will stand together.” Not to mention the men. God bless the men who braved the cold and held up signs reading, “Men of Quality Support Equality.”
If I’m being completely honest, the march started out as a crawl. In fact, it started with an hour and a half at a complete stand still. Slowly, we inched forward, whooping with glee and taking in the glorious and rare sunshine on our faces. By the time we hit Park Lane we had broken a nice stride. Yes, we were a bit hangry and cold. My toes were numb, my throat sore. I can’t help but feel it was the perfect metaphor for the slow but necessary march of feminism throughout history. For too long, women have lived at a standstill, accepting the status quo and their inferior position in society. Slowly, over centuries we have inched forward and really started moving. Today, despite the fact that a misogynistic sexual predator sits in the Oval Office, we have hit our stride. This stride will not be broken. We will continue to march forward regardless of our speed, never backwards.
Some of my friends asked me today why this march was so important to me and the answer is quite simple. I consider myself privileged enough to have been born with certain unalienable rights. I have never had to protest, as Emmeline Pankhurst did, for the right to vote. I am not Susan B. Anthony or Gloria Steinhem, but today was my own suffragette march, one that I had the opportunity to share with women around the world. Today I did something and I empowered myself and those I love and care for. I know that should I ever have children, I will tell them about this day and how important it was to me that I be there to stand in solidarity, to dare to use my voice in a peaceful political protest.
I marched today because I do not accept Donald Trump as an appropriate representative of the people of the United States. I do not see this man as normal, nor do I see him as emotionally stable. I refuse to normalize this man. I am determined that history remember this day, and remember that I did not consent. That we did not consent. Because after all these years fighting for the recognition of consent, I am now voicing I do not consent. Perhaps there will be dark times ahead, but I promise I will continue to march on, today and tomorrow and each day after that. In the words of Angela Davis, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
I marched today because I am female.
I marched today because I am a woman of colour.
I marched today because I am a daughter of hardworking and proud immigrants.
I marched today because I am a proud sister to a cherished brother.
I marched today because I reject the idea that men can do things that women cannot do.
I marched today because every time I am catcalled, I cry for that man’s mother and wonder what she would say if she knew.
I marched today because I am fed up with having to tell my friends and loved ones who have been sexually assaulted that they are not broken or damaged.
I marched today because I expect to earn the same pay that a male colleague doing the same job earns when I begin a new job this year.
I marched today because I believe it is no government’s business what I choose to do with my body. My body, my rules.
I marched today because I abhor the term “slut.”
I marched today because being a mother or my desire to be mother has no effect on my abilities and merit.
I marched today because I can, because I have a voice and I will not be silent in the face of hatred.