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Women’s March in London

It is probably a defense mechanism but I had not spent much time last week thinking in depth about Donald Trump’s presidency. However, on January 20th, in a random pub in London there he was back on the television screen, in all his superiority complex glory. He could no longer be ignored or stay away from the back of my mind. This pivotal moment felt like the eye of the hurricane of our new political age. The quiet tension of the inauguration was somewhat cut by the Shakespearian pathetic fallacy of the downpour of rain commencing as he was sworn in. I suspect it perfectly reflected how many in the United States and across the world felt.
January 21st could not come fast enough. A Christmas morning like excitement was evident as my friends and I finished our protest posters. We were ready to fight back.

On our way to 24 Grosvenor Square, the U.S Embassy, we got our share of inquisitive looks along with wary questions from a few men, such as “Why are you even protesting?” They weren’t mean-spirited but almost a bit defensive when we explained it was an all-inclusive Woman’s March. I don’t think they particularly liked the name. We then began to see the odd fellow Protester along the way, we all smiled at each other and tensions were calmed. As the train doors opened in Oxford Circus station our march had begun. If not officially it sure felt like it, as the sea of pink hats did not part. The crowd was so big it took us about 15 minutes to get out of the station, but at least we were in good company. When we finally took to the streets a joyous inertia of hope took over, my cheeks still hurt from smiling too much. We decided to follow one of the many flowing streams of pink until we were stuck as the crowd seized to move just a few blocks from the U.S Embassy. The turnout was ‘HUGE!’ to put in Trump terms, bigger than anything I had expected. So much that it took us an hour to make it to the Embassy, and each tiny step felt like a leap. A friend repeated the iconic Neil Armstrong quote and the not so subtle patriarchy suddenly hit me. At that moment, I truly realized why names do matter. As the Women’s March movement grew exponentially I had hoped they would not change the name; and I was so relieved they did not. The march was an all-inclusive event where people were free to stand up for what they believed in. Marchers supported a range of issues such as Climate Change, the refugee crisis, nuclear weapons, big business interests, LGBTQ rights, health care, the Black Lives Matter movement, etc. However, it was done through a feminist lens, everyone that was there including men and children knew that half of the world’s population (women) who are present in every single vulnerable group like the LGBTQ, Hispanic, Refugee, Black, disabled communities have the added systematic burden of womanhood.

A wave of cheers broke my train of thought, my friends and I joined in the chants. The signs the protesters held ranged from dignified statements to purposefully vulgar remarks. Mine fell in the latter category. Among my favorites where Viva la Vulva and Free Melania. However, the posters depicting Princess Leia with the slogan “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance” was specially touching. Around one hour and a half later the march started flowing again to our collective relief. At times, it felt like a parade with onlookers taking pictures and children holding signs they had made themselves. The music of people playing the drums along with a group of ladies carrying a big old stereo system added to this fun ambiance.
My friends and I eventually parted ways as I continued the march. At first it felt odd being alone, but the atmosphere was so welcoming it made it easy. We eventually made it to the end of the march at Trafalgar Square where the group congregated. The group covered the entire square and surrounding areas. Wandering around I made my way to the group of women with the stereo system. They were playing Bob Marley classics and the crowd was dancing. All the sudden their stereo stopped working, and like something out of a movie one of the women grabbed the microphone and began to free style an incredible moving poem about the feminine energy in the natural world. Part of me wishes I would have recorded it but we, the crowd surrounding her were so taken by the moment.
The event could not have been more positive in energy. The array of color, creds and age was the reassuring force I believe we who attended were looking for.
Of course, the sting of Trump’s young presidency is not as direct to London as it must be to the United States; and perhaps this distance alleviated some tensions. However, as the organizers of the Women’s March movement have said, this was not an anti-Trump march per say, but one for all Women and the vulnerable in our global society. This is an exciting time for civic engagement but as his movement is just 12 weeks old it will continue to grow and take shape, to get involved and make your mark follow their Facebook London page Woman’s March London and the official https://www.womensmarch.com/.

The next upcoming march is March 8th, on International Women’s Day.

By Ana Sofia

Picture Credits: Ana Sofia
Picture Credits: Ana Sofia

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