It’s been a while since I marched. Back in student days, a demo on a weekend was a regular occurrence – I’ve marched against war, nukes, poll tax; for reproductive rights, to reclaim the streets, to support human rights defenders. On Saturday I’m joining the Women’s March on London. The need for this march has been questioned by some. So, here’s why I’m marching:
- Because every woman I know has walked in fear, worried about footsteps behind her on an unlit street
- Because two women a week are murdered by a partner or former partner
- Because I was first “flashed” at when I was a schoolgirl, and I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t experienced this intimidating form of assault
- Because men still get off rape charges after their victim’s sexual history is raked over in court
- Because the world’s most powerful country has just elected a self-proclaimed sexual assaulter of women as president
- Because some men think it’s OK to threaten women with rape and murder for saying things they disagree with
- Because an inspirational MP was murdered, and one of our biggest-circulation newspapers didn’t think that important enough to put on the front page
- Because I am sick and tired of feeling afraid, and keeping quiet, and hoping nothing bad happens to me
- Because of all the women in the world with less power and privilege than me, who can’t speak out or take to the streets.
There are more reasons than that, more than I can count. Equal pay. Access to reproductive healthcare. A refusal to accept the politics of hatred and division. And before anyone starts with ‘not all men’ – I know. Of course I know. The one I’m married to is marching with me, for a start.
But the man who takes the highest office in America today thinks women are pieces of meat, and I’m angry as hell about that. The question isn’t why women are marching – it’s why we ever stopped.