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Why I’m marching on the Women’s March

January 20, 2017

downloadI’m no activist. I’m more a rant with like-minded friends in the pub or over the phone type person.  At the very most I might write or share my thoughts on social media. But by and large, I’m not one to push my head above the parapet. It’s true to say that over the last year or so I’ve been bolder but today something in me snapped and I thought, it’s time to stop talking about the things I vehemently disagree with and actively take a stand and add my voice (and feet) to the thousands of others that will be marching tomorrow on the Women’s March in London. There are several reasons to join, some succinctly listed here. For me it’s in part a protest against the politics of fear and division, equality, and the right as a woman to move freely within the spaces I occupy without fear of sexual harassment or violence.

When I was in university, a group of guys used to regularly harass me, because I’d refused the advances of one them, so he and his merry band of followers, thought it was funny to constantly make me feel uncomfortable with stares, comments, and I vaguely remember being grabbed at. Why? Because they could and they believed they were entitled to do so. What was worse was that, some people may have agreed because after all ‘they’re only joking’, ‘they’re just giving you attention because you’re pretty’, ‘you should be flattered’. Well no, I shouldn’t have been, not if the attention was unwanted, not if I’d already said no. They had no right. It took me a long to fully realise this, especially as prior to this, I’d experienced similar situation from other men, who thought it was their right to street harass me with catcalls, some going as far to touch me, and then have the cheek to be offended by my refusal.

Back then I didn’t have the words, I was young and unprepared. Many of these experiences were with much older men, who frankly should have (but didn’t) know better. I thought it was my fault, and so this particular experience at uni and so many others, I buried, never to be thought about in any great detail again. A few days ago, I recalled the incidents at uni randomly on a date, and again today as Donald Trump prepared to be inaugurated as President. Recalling his comments about women, especially the ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ line, wilfully dismissed as ‘locker room talk’, fuelled a new level of anger within me because it isn’t just locker room talk, it is a blatant school of thought that women are props, objects, expendable and subject to men. And I refuse to abide with that line of thinking.

So I’m marching for me and for my 19 year old old self needlessly intimidated on campus by guys who couldn’t take no for an answer. And for all the other women who have suffered needlessly because of some guy’s misguided sense of entitlement to her body, her attention and her time. I, and other women don’t owe men like that anything.

 

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From → Life, Women

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