Deputy Fashion News Editor, Hannah Banks-Walker, explains why she joined 100,000 protesters at the Women's March on London on Saturday, 21st January.
As if Monday mornings weren’t traumatic enough, mine involved (aside from the initial trauma of having to get out of bed) forgetting half of my belongings, missing my train and trying to explain to my father why the Women’s March on London- and indeed those around the world- wasn’t a pointless endeavour, as he tried to suggest.
I was brought up in very fortunate circumstances. I had loving, supportive parents who taught me that I could do anything I wanted. I don’t ever remember feeling limited by my gender, as so many women still do around the world. In fact, my Dad had a lot to do with that. He encouraged me to pursue my passions, to stand up for what I believe in. He taught me not to take any ‘nonsense’ (his word, not mine. But still excellent and underused, in my opinion) from anyone, all the while showing me what it means to be a loving parent, a generous person and a generally excellent Dad.
Obviously, we are all entitled to our own opinions. I am not for one second suggesting that anyone who disagrees with my own personal reasons for supporting the Women’s March on London this past weekend is wrong, nor am I condemning those who chose not to march. I do, however, think that it’s important to respect those of us who did choose to march, because we did so for increasingly important reasons. Chances are, we did so for reasons that could affect you, or someone you love, directly.
Donald Trump is President. Those are four words I wish nobody had to write but there’s democracy for you. I was not protesting the results of the election at the weekend, nor was I protesting the legitimacy of the US election results; there would not be much point. I was protesting Trump’s rampant misogyny; something that has clearly been accepted by millions of people who voted for him and something that is an increasingly dangerous and destructive force in our society.
If we start simply by considering the language Trump uses in relation to women, it’s easy to be pretty horrified. When he was caught on tape bragging about “grabbing women by the pussy” he was, whether anyone likes it or not, bragging about sexual assault. The Department of Justice defines ‘sexual assault’ as “any type of sexual contact or behaviour that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient’, which is exactly the sort of behaviour to which Trump was admitting, if not boasting. He has called women ‘pigs’, ‘dogs’, ‘slobs’… he has said of his OWN DAUGHTER that, were they not related, he’d be ‘dating her’. When American journalist Megyn Kelly took him to task over his sexism, Trump responded by calling her a ‘bimbo’ on Twitter (obviously) and suggested that her questioning was a result of her menstruating: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”
These are just some of the things Trump has said and done. If I tried to list every time he has exhibited misogynistic behaviour, I would literally be here all day. For those interested, however, The Telegraph’s Claire Cohen has made a comprehensive list, handily. Perhaps one of the most dangerous things Trump did say, however, is that women should be ‘punished’ for seeking abortions. While he reversed his position a mere two hours after saying this, he did say that he would punish the doctors offering abortions to women. And with Mike Pence as vice President, the man who, as Governor of Indiana, signed the most abortion-restrictive regulations in the whole of the US, banning abortion in all cases, even when the foetus has a “genetic abnormality” and in cases of rape, things are looking quite bleak for women’s rights. Oh, and Mike Pence also led the campaign to de-fund Planned Parenthood, an organisation which offers safe access to abortion for all women. It also offers smear tests, access to contraception, cancer screening and prevention and STI tests and treatment. In fact, Pence and his fellow campaigners forced so many of Planned Parenthood’s clinics to close in Indiana that he triggered an H.I.V epidemic in one county.
So far, so terrifying. But what about here, in the UK? Well, one of the issues raised at the march was that of domestic abuse. This is something that will affect around 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime. Shockingly, it leads to, on average, two women being murdered each week and 30 men being killed every year. It has more repeat victims than any other crime and, in 2002, it was cited by Shelter as the most common reason for homelessness. Oh, and it wasn’t until 1993 that marital rape was established as a human rights violation. Consider that for a moment.
On the topic of sexual assault, as perpetuated by Donald Trump, leader of America, figures given by Rape Crisis suggest that approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year, which equates to roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour. 1 in 5 women aged 16-59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16 and, out of those who have, only around 15% choose to report it to the police.
These are just some of the reasons I chose to march this weekend. More importantly, I wanted to show that I will not accept misogyny. I will not accept the sort of language that has been used to refer to women. I will not accept an inequality that should have been eradicated decades ago. As someone with younger nephews and nieces, I want them to grow up in a world that rejects the sort of prejudice that fuelled Donald Trump’s campaign.
Around 15-20,000 protesters were expected in London on Saturday. 100,000 people marched. I was one of them, and I’m so proud to say that.