To all the feminists who came before me, who threw themselves under horses, who went on hunger strikes, who were harassed and arrested and imprisoned and beaten up. To all the women who huffed and puffed and blew down the doors. To the women who screamed until they were hoarse and bit and scratched until their fingers bled. To the women who fought and died for our right to have a say in government, to be homeowners, to love whoever we want, to go to school, and everything else we take for granted today.
Thank you for doing all the hard work. Thank you for giving up your lives so that I could walk down the street today with 100,000 others in an organised protest, and not be harassed, beaten or arrested. Thank you for paving an even road for us to march along. I am cold and exhausted, my throat is hoarse and my feet hurt, but I am alive and unbruised and in that throng of incredible feminists today I have never felt safer, all because of you.
It is easy, living in the West and coming from a privileged background, to take for granted the milestones that feminism achieved over the last century or so. I can vote, I can wear trousers, I have a university degree, I can own property and handle my own money and access birth control and marry whoever I love. I am overwhelmed with gratitude today for the women who made these things possible. For the women who inspired generations of feminists, whose words ring in my ears and give me strength when I experience everyday sexism. For Emmeline Pankhurst, Maya Angelou, Kimberle Crenshaw, Virginia Woolf, Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, bell hooks, Angela Davis, Harriet Tubman, Germaine Greer, Simone de Beauvoir, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gloria Steinem. My mother, my grandmothers, my aunts.
Feminism is not over. We’ve still got work to do, and a long, long way to go. A lot of people didn’t understand the point of protesting today, seeing as Donald Trump has already been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. Earlier today, before I got to the march, I posted a clarification on Facebook for all those people who don’t didn’t see the point: I am marching today because the women who came before me fought and died for my right to use my voice and I damn well will. I was not raised to be silent or silenced. I was not raised to keep my mouth shut when I see something I think is wrong. So I will scream until my lungs collapse if I have to. We will shout for the women in countries whose mouths are still sewed shut by the patriarchy, and for the women who died before they could use theirs. Our voices are louder in a group, and the fact that more people turned up to protest than turned up at the actual inauguration has not gone unnoticed.