Women’s March on London
The US election proved a catalyst for a grassroots movement of women to assert the positive values that the politics of fear denies. On January 21 2017, the first day of Donald Trump’s Presidency, women-led marches, welcoming all participants, will take place across the world, with the largest expected in Washington D.C. We, the organisers of the London march, call on people of all genders to march in London as part of an international day of action in solidarity.
We will march, wherever we march, for the protection of our fundamental rights and for the safeguarding of freedoms threatened by recent political events. We unite and stand together for the dignity and equality of all peoples, for the safety and health of our planet and for the strength of our vibrant and diverse communities.
We will come together in the spirit of democracy, honouring the champions of human rights who have gone before us. Please spread the word, so that our numbers are too great to ignore and the message to the world is clear.
Yesterday I joined the Women’s March on London with the magnificent Lara and comrades from the Borough Belles division of the WI. We laughed and marched and chanted and whooped and talked and represented. We thought of our friends all over the world also marching, and of everyone who wanted to march but couldn’t: you were with us in spirit and on social media and, in some cases, represented by your knitting! We wore our pussyhats with pride. Indeed as I type this I am still wearing mine which was hastily and gleefully whipped up last week. As Anna says, “it’s been a while since there’s been such a unified cause to knit for.”
The banners and placards at the march were incredible. Home-made, raw, expressive, full of wit and swagger, and plenty of appropriation and subversion of phrases like “nasty woman” and “pussy grabbing“.
These phrases have been used in hateful ways by Donald Trump against women and against our rights and freedoms: it was renewing and life-affirming to see them re-appropriated to the feminist cause with creativity, chutzpah and humour. Singing and shouting were also good ways to represent, and we sang Fiona Apple’s chant loud and proud.
I marched because I want to protect and promote equality, human rights, political and sexual freedoms and the safety and health of our planet. These precious, important, cherished things are under threat from the new president of the United States of America: a man highlighted by Human Rights Watch as a threat to Human Rights; a man accused of sexually assaulting women and caught on tape bragging about his sexual conquests; a racist man; a man in denial of climate change… I could go on and on.
But instead I want to focus on the power of coming together in peaceful protest; on the necessity of solidarity and dissent; on feminism and identity politics; on saying NO and on saying NO together.
The march was *amazing* and it was a privilege to be a part of it, and to feel comrades all around the world marching too. The crowd in London was beautifully responsible and caring and the atmosphere was electric. The air was thick with hope, and the home-made banners that comrades brought to wave were fantastic. They are the charge for depleted batteries and a necessary renewal to political fatigue and disillusionment. So much colour and diversity, so many fresh voices unified in laughter and in chants, so many related causes to fight for and support. People of all ages and ethnicities walking peacefully together to the tune of NO, WE ALL SAY NO TO THIS.
THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO CAME AND ALL WHO SUPPORTED!
Our work is far from done and the times ahead are scary but yesterday’s marches – a global representation of almost 3.2 million comrades marching for equality, social justice and human rights – are immensely encouraging. Not only the message of the marches, but also their flavour which was feminist, hand-knitted, hand-written, inter-generational and richly, gloriously, beautifully diverse. I want to hang onto that image for as long as I can and use it in daily life and amplify it across my interactions; to make it a daily recharge against depressing news misery, troubling policy changes and the rise of the right. That power of presence of physically taking a stand is the power and the value of protest and there is nothing like it in this world. It’s one of the most valued freedoms we can enjoy here in the west and I feel profoundly grateful to have been able to exercise that freedom yesterday with so many beautiful people in an atmosphere of tolerance and equality.
I recorded some of the chants on the march and have made them downloadable via soundcloud. Please feel free to re-use them for projects that support the broad aims of the women’s march.
I’ll close with a video that I have found amazingly helpful this past week – watch it until the end and share it with all your friends.
YOURS IN SONGS OF PROTEST,