There is an audio version of this if preferred - here.
I’m a feminist but…when my friend invited me along to the Women’s March on 21st Jan 2017 in London, I said ‘8.30am coach? But that’s so early!’ Of course I said yes straight after, but I’ll admit I have been quite the armchair activist so far. I’d write a few satirical stories for my podcast, bust out a few blog posts hoping that somehow some people will read them. Maybe satire is dying now… it can’t be funny if it’s coming true, right? I think people underestimate the power of writers in our society. People watch hours of TV every day. We consume so much media even just through our phones. Films, written largely by men, tell us what our happy endings should look like. Our brains gobble up all this information, which determines how we perceive the world and people around us, and sometimes it’s really not a great influence. Misogyny, objectification and patriarchy are so normal we barely even question them. Yet the world also tells us that there’s no need to fight for women’s rights anymore because we can vote now, right? We are allowed to have jobs and reproduce at the same time! As long as we make sure we’re still pretty whilst we’re doing it all, that is.
If you ever needed proof that sexism still exists today, and gender equality is needed more than ever - an old, racist, sexist, orange-faced ball of raging testosterone will soon be the most powerful man in the world.
But surprisingly, I feel quite positive. Knowing there are marches happening all over the world on 21st January gives me so much hope and strength. I’ve never been to a march before, but I’m so glad to be going to this one. I have a feeling history is going to be made that day.
For me, this isn’t protesting against Donald Trump, it’s about people making a stand together to support gender equality and diversity. I was maybe living in a bubble where I thought the world was becoming less sexist, but the amount of people who voted for Trump proved me wrong – particularly all the women who supported him. Feminists can be any gender, and misogynists can too.
This is our chance to show the people who think modern day feminism is a waste of time that we can unite, regardless of our gender, race or class. I don’t want to see feminists fighting against each other anymore, I want to see us work together for the greater good. I’ve been part of online feminist groups which have been so hostile and full of fights, long bickering threads misinterpreting each other as tensions run high. We’re all angry and upset, but we need to put our energy to good use instead of turning against each other. That’s just what men like Donald Trump want, he wants people to hate each other instead of blaming the rich, greedy old white men at the top like him.
I’ll admit I’m a bloody awful feminist at times, but I’m learning and trying to keep an open mind. I admit I used to criticise Beyoncé’s brand of feminism (as self-objectification to sell music) but I’m not going to anymore. I’ll try not to judge anyone who says they believe in gender equality, because they’re trying to do something positive in their own way. To be honest, there are bigger fish to fry. We have to pick our battles. None of us are perfect feminists. This is our opportunity to stop arguing about the most recent slip-up Lena Dunham made, or criticising each other on incorrect terms we might accidentally use, or judging what level of feminism somebody is at. For the march, let’s put it all aside and agree on one thing: Donald Trump is a massive fuckwit.
Why I march is to try to bring feminism back together. Where the expert 'good' feminists and the 'baby' feminists can unite for a greater cause. To let passion and kindness unite us and channel that energy into what we all fundamentally want – to all be treated like human fucking beings. I march because I want to live in a world where people are allowed to have empathy and compassion without being seen as weak. I march for a world where having emotions is seen as a strength of humanity, and where men are allowed to embrace them too. I march for a world where the pressure to be powerful and rich isn’t as important as being kind, where we can say what we feel without being called loopy lefties or special snowflakes. Caring about the world should not have to take such courage. Being yourself should not have to be so hard. Showing compassion towards others is not a political act, it’s called being a decent person.
I’m marching because I want everyone to be allowed to have their differences without being judged or bullied, for everyone to respect each other regardless of where they’re from, what they look like, what colour their skin is, whatever their gender or sexuality.
Saturday 21st Jan could mark the start of something amazing. Our strength will come from a union of compassion and empathy with our fellow human beings. Let’s show the world how awesome we can be. This is our time to shine.