Million Women Rise!Posted: 10 March 2012
A group of us from FAC went down to London on Saturday to Million Women Rise 2012 – an annual women only march ‘against male violence in all it’s forms’. The great thing about the march is it’s positive, carnival-like atmosphere – a celebration of International Women’s Day, of sisterhood, of feminism and of women and girls around the world.
There was a huge diversity of organisations represented there – with some amazing and artistic banners from London Feminist Network, Object, Hebden Bridge Feminists, Rape Crisis England and Wales, Forward, LGBT Labour, East London Women’s Institute, NUS Black Students’ Campaign….
After marching, chanting, singing and dancing right down the middle of Oxford Street, we gathered in Trafalgar Square for powerful speeches a teenage survivor of domestic violence, a group of Congolese women speaking out about rape and war, and many others.
Following on from Murenne’s post on safety and women-only spaces – an important part of the march is that it is organised by women for women and girls. As the organisers say:
“On this particular day, we want women to come and feel the strength, the exhilaration and power of being with other women, to celebrate ourselves, to sing, shout and chant at the top of our voices, in all our diversity, to demonstrate however we want because we’re women in the company of other women.”
As women, our experience of street harassment means we are often made to feel that we are on display for the male gaze whenever we go out in public – it only takes one out of every 50 men who walks or drives past us to leer, sneer, stare, whistle or yell ‘dyke’ out of their car window to make us feel that we’re under siege every time we try to pop out to the co-op for a loaf of bread. Luckily for the sexist patriarchy, there were plenty of men keen to make sure that just because we were a group of thousands of women, on a women-only march, on International Women’s Day, we shouldn’t for a minute forget our womanly purpose as display objects – by lining the entire route with great big cameras, getting up in our faces and taking hundreds of pictures for who-knows-what-purpose without our consent. I personally must have been photographed well over a hundred times by random men. This was completely unwanted on my part and I genuinely have no idea who these men were – journalists, anti-feminist activists, random passers-by who just happened to have fancy cameras in their bags, or misguided male allies?
Anyway, I got a bit fed up and decided to turn the lens on them – so please everyone enjoy this little gallery of shame:
Please bear in mind that these photos represent just a handful of the scores of men photographing us at every turn.
Not that we were going to let them spoil our mood – I will certainly be going back for more next year and I look forward to marching with my sister Cambridge feminists under our brand new Feminist Action Cambridge banner. Join us in 2013 – and don’t forget your camera. Smile!