I march for the forgotten, for the great women behind all the great men, for the women who have died alone or uncommemorated. I march for all of the women who have raised children on their own.
I march for all the little girls and young women coming of age in the era of Donald Trump, who believe they can never be President, or fly to the moon, or write books as well as men can, or save lives, or do whatever it is they aspire to.
I march for the women abused by their partners and I march for the two women murdered every week in this country by the person closest to them.
I’m marching for my future sons and daughters. I march because I want them to know that fighting for what’s right is worth it; that their mother couldn’t sleep for worry about the future; that their mother couldn’t sleep without knowing she’d tried, in some small significant way, to make things right.
I march for anyone who’s ever looked in the mirror and wished they were prettier, skinnier, lighter-skinned, or took up less space.
I march for the female employees who take a pay cut when they decide to birth the next generation and I march for the women who are fired for ‘unrelated reasons’ when they wish to take maternity leave. I march for mothers in countries across the world, America included, where paid family leave is but a mere pipe dream.
I march for the assault victim in Stanford whose attacker served just three months of his measly six month sentence, still referred to in news articles as ‘a former swimming champion’, not a convicted criminal, a rapist or a poor excuse for a human being. I march for all the women who were told they should have been wearing more clothes, or acting less audaciously, or minding their own business, or not walking the streets alone, when they were assaulted, attacked or assailed by men.
I march for all those who have been undervalued, underestimated, underrated, undercut, undersold and undermined by a man.
I’m marching for anyone who’s ever paid the tampon tax (estimated at around £1,000 over a lifetime of periods), or purchased women’s toiletries, which are in this country on average 34 per cent dearer than their male-marketed equivalents.
I march for the teenagers and adult women who have no choice but to shell out £25 for the morning-after pill and endured its accompanying required ‘consultation’ – a price and a practice more to do with old-English puritan morality than medical necessity. I march for those without access to contraception or women’s healthcare or abortions. I march in honour of Planned Parenthood and similar organisations, for refusing to give up without a fight.
I march for anyone who’s ever felt the need to laugh at a man’s bad jokes.
I march because I can’t forget what Donald Trump said.
I march because I am talked down to by my male colleagues on a daily basis and because when I resist, when I try to call them out, or speak my mind, I feel as though as I am being mean or jeopardising my reputation as a nice woman. (#nastywomen, I’m learning, always)
I march for anyone who’s ever backed down, or shirked at sharing their opinions or folded away their thoughts for another day because they know the man they’re talking to will belittle them, will talk over them, will tell them they know better.
I march for Hillary Rodham Clinton, blamed for everything and anything at every turn, blamed for having ambitions and drive. I march for the political candidate whose opponent’s self-confessed reputation as a sexual predator and dangerous misogynist was deemed a lesser evil than her neoliberal voting record, her husband’s sex life, and her use of a private email server (surely the dullest, most exaggerated crime known to man). And I march for the woman whose opponent encouraged his supporters to shoot her during the campaign. The Second Amendment, people, maybe, I don’t know, and that’s a direct quote.
I march for anyone who’s ever been stared at or leered at – or worse, much worse – on public transport.
I march in defiance of the morning when my boyfriend, kindly carrying my bicycle up the station stairs as I waited at the bottom, was told – conspiratorily – by a smiling white man “Women, they’re always causing trouble, aren’t they? That’s what I’ve learnt.”
I march for my ancestors, born before women had the right to vote. I march for my great-grandmothers, Alice Rose and Rose Anne, born 1898 – 20 years before the universal right to suffrage came into force in their nation.
I march for the (male) colleague who tells me he’s not attending the Women’s March because he has had enough of marches, there’s too much to care about these days.
I march because there is comfort and solidarity in sharing physical space with like-minded folks.
I march for my mother, and all mothers, who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice much to raise their children, who shoulder untold emotional (and physical) labour, who juggle everything and so much more to be good mothers and wives and workers and neighbours.
I march for all the girls and women who believe – occasionally, or always – they are not good enough (myself included). I will march for all the girls and women who believe, because they are told, that they are too much.
I march because it is not fair that I, as a white, middle-class woman, have opportunities available to me simply by way of my upbringing and my skin colour. I march for those who cannot march. I march for all the men and women who wanted to take part but couldn’t: because of childcare, or work, or illness, or maternity leave, or prejudice, or male pride, or fear for their safety.
I march for the environment, because I believe the natural world is as close to pure, true magic as this planet gets and I refuse to let it go up in the flames of fossil fuels without a fight.
I march to build bridges, not walls. I march for the refugees fleeing untold violence and unimaginable suffering in lands faraway enough for us to turn a blind eye, for those climbing into overflowing, oscillating dinghies to cross the Mediterranean (no one leaves home unless / home is the mouth of a shark /you only run for the border / when you see the whole city running as well).
I march for every woman who has ever been berated for qualities rarely noted in men – ambition, and tenacity, and doggedness, and drive, and confidence, and brashness, and verve.
I march because I believe in the power of symbols and our ability to make change from the grassroots level up. I march because I believe in the power of sending an unmistakable visual statement to the television presenter-cum-politician who cares above all about being popular, despite being now the most powerful person in the western hemisphere.
I march because to not march is surely the greater sin. While some argue that marching has lost its meaning, has grown too in vogue, I march to still the disquieting ache in the pit of my stomach – that this world is running away from us, and that we must cling to it with our fingertips, with every last bit of strength in our toes, if we are to hold onto what is good, and true, and right.