The turnout for the various Women’s Marches worldwide was reassuring.
I’ve never really been a fan of crowds, and the prospect of throngs of angry people can often leave me feeling a bit ill. However, on 21st January 2017, I attended my first protest: the Women’s March on London.
Expecting there to be a lacklustre turnout, as there usually is when an idea originates as a Facebook event, I thought this would be a decisive but manageable introduction. Boy, was I wrong. Thousands upon thousands of women and men of all ages clogged the streets of central London protesting the new President of the U.S. and all that he stands for.
Over 3 million people marched in coordinated protests across the globe and the Women’s March on Washington broke records as the largest U.S. centred protest of all time. That, to me, is pretty impressive and I’m proud to have been a part of it.
My favourite part of the whole thing? The placards! It reassured me that even in the face of so much political turbulence and threat the attendees still had it in them to create hilarious, clever and delightfully crude signs to parade around Mayfair. (‘Trump eats wet poo’ was a consistent fave with the younger marchers). It speaks volumes that the protests were more focussed on peace and self-expression. In fact, Washington D.C. police (where the largest march took place) reported that zero arrests were made.
As a choice feminist, I believe that we are all entitled to do what makes us happy provided it doesn’t cause harm to others. The march made me happy and proud. It also reminded me that there are swathes of others out there of all ethnicities and genders who are bothered about the same things. Even if they’re not directly affected.
There is, of course, the opinion that protests don’t achieve much. What does going for a slow trudge through the freezing climes of London in January do to stop Donald Trump? People probably said the same about the Suffragettes and look what they achieved- voting rights for women. It’s easy to rubbish people or criticise them for getting involved in mainstream events because of the selfie opportunities and that is bullshit. People do care about these issues, is it our generation’s fault that social media is drummed into us as the best communication tool? No. We’re allowed to take pictures at momentous events. You wouldn’t have a go at someone for taking pictures of a wedding or a sunset.
Solidarity is important. We, as young people, should start taking more of a direct interest in the issues that affect us and those around us. If we don’t do everything we can then how can we bemoan the outcomes? Especially as students in London, we are so equipped to take part in political activism right on our doorstep. So let the Women’s March be a lesson to us and lets make 2017 the year of peaceful revolution.