exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

marching on

by Jen at 11:47 am on 22.11.2009 | 5 Comments
filed under: like a fish needs a bicycle, rant and rage

last night, my friend amity and i attended a reclaim the night march, as i’ve done off and on since university. it’s a way for women to demonstrably protest the culture of sexual violence which makes the streets unsafe for women.

so we’re marching along in the rain through the centre of london streets. several hundred women, surrounded by dozens of police escorts, chanting, holding placards, drawing the attention of tourists and onlookers. there are guys who feel the need to boo or mock us – which is par for the course, really. some mentally unstable guy spat. whatever.

and then, out of nowhere, in the middle of leicester square, some guy cuts through the crowd, walks up to my friend amity next to me, gropes her breasts, and slips away into the crowd. in the middle of hundreds of women, in the middle of dozens of police.

after the initial shock wore off, i found myself getting really emotional.

it was a massive fuck you. more so than if he’d made some snarky remark (like some men did), more so than if he’d booed (like some men did), more so than if he’d laughed (like some men did).

it was a bold statement: you think you’re safe, you think you can fight back, you think you can reclaim the night… well i’m going to prove to you that i can do whatever i want to you, whenever i feel like it.

you are never safe.

it really shook me. i nearly abandoned the march at that point. after all, if a guy can do that anytime he wants, just because he feels he’s entitled to – then what the fuck is the point?

but as i continued clomping along in my wet boots and bedraggled hair, my sodden sign wavering, my voice having escaped me…

i began to get angry. i mean white hot fury. that “fuck you” was *supposed* to completely dispirit us, make us feel vulnerable.

i will not let that happen to me. not ever. and certainly not because some fucking arsehole managed to momentarily catch me off guard.

fuck you, motherfucker. if you meant to scare us, you failed.

still – if there was ever any doubt that we still need to reclaim the night, that was a perfect example of exactly why it’s so important. why i will continue to participate even when there’s rain, or in-fighting amongst feminist groups, etc.

because until that culture of sexual entitlement changes, nothing will change. until every single person is free from sexual assault, none of us is.

until the streets are free of those who would mock us, or undermine our safety, i’ll keep marching.

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5 Comments

  • 1

    Comment by Charlotte

    22.11.2009 @ 14:26 pm

    I’m sorry to hear that, both for Amity and for you. I’m lost for words, actually, that someone can be so disrespectful and so petrified of losing his position of privilege and so threatened that he has to act like that. It’s enraging.

  • 2

    Comment by Cath Elliott

    22.11.2009 @ 15:55 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about this jen: is Amity okay?

    I was also on the march last night, and at one point some guy lunged forward and informed me that we should have been marching to “end violence against people, not just women.” I was pretty much rendered speechless by this, although I did manage a quick “fuck off”, which probably wasn’t particularly helpful, but it’s all I had to offer at that moment.

    But yes, we can’t let the behaviour of a few idiots stop us. Hope to see you there this time next year.

  • 3

    Comment by Thomas Foolery

    22.11.2009 @ 16:25 pm

    really struggling here

  • 4

    Comment by Jen

    22.11.2009 @ 17:18 pm

    @cath – yeah, amity handled it with more equanimity than i did, but she’s fine. she managed to get a swing at his arm before he disappeared.

    @charlotte – you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  • 5

    Pingback by Fighting Entitlement « Charlotte’s Web

    23.11.2009 @ 15:29 pm

    [...] her aside as she was marching and grasped her breasts. You can read her post here, and that of the friend she was marching [...]

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