If you don’t understand why millions of people took to the streets at the weekend, says Siân Bevan, you don’t understand what’s happening in the world right now.
Hey pal, how’s it going? I hope you don’t mind me calling you Eric; it’s just you have so many faces at the moment, I thought it might be easier to call you by one name.
I hope you remember where we first met. You’re the Twitter troll who searches for people posting about the Women’s Marches around the world and asks why they don’t care about cancer, or Syria or children or herpes. You’re the guy I thought was a pal, who reacted with angry hurt when we gently tried to explain why the marches were so important to us and scratched us out of your life.
You’re my Dad’s friend in the pub who thinks feminism is all very well but they always go too far, don’t they? And you’re the woman who likes her comfortable, cared-for life and thinks people complaining about abortions are trying to stop you wearing skirts. I know you definitely don’t like being called Eric, sorry sorry.
I used to be the one you sort of vaguely knew was a feminist but we didn’t really talk about stuff like that. You liked how much I could swear, we found each other funny and we had great chats about Star Wars.
“I wish you knew it hurts my eyes to roll them when you say that in the developed world there are no rights a man has that a woman doesn’t, because it shows you aren’t listening and please, please listen.”
But I know you’ve been irritated lately. You feel like everywhere you turn there are people talking about women’s rights and it feels like a criticism. There were votes, there were choices and the choices were made, so we can’t we go back to burping the alphabet and talking to your pals about how you probably wouldn’t fuck me?
We can’t, sorry Eric. Not right now.
I’d love to talk about this face-to-face but you always block me: talking over me, talking louder, blocking me on social media or flooding me with questions and never ever taking an answer because your cock is stuffed in that hole in the dam and if you take it out you might drown in the realisation of what’s happening. Of what you helped to happen.
Of course I know there are other problems. Every person who was on those marches, or who offered support and encouragement, knows there are other problems. Our hearts break for Syria. We flap helplessly when we hear about another friend lost to the cruel fingers of disease. We give to charity, we sign petitions, we try to research and reach out to our fellow humans who are experiencing a reality we can’t imagine surviving.
We do too little. We all do too little. So do you. It’s too much and, like you, we risk the flood of information overwhelming our understanding. But most of us try.
Standing together in solidarity with our sisters in America who are faced with their rights being prised out of their fingers doesn’t cancel out our concern for the homeless. Saying it’s not OK to remove the right of women to choose abortion doesn’t mean we want people to drown in the Mediterranean as they flee from hell. Quite the opposite: the compassion and intelligence shown at the marches shows that humans are capable of unity and it re-energises everyone searching for a larger justice.
And, you’re right, sausage. There ARE places in the world where women’s rights are worse than America but after just a few days of Trump power, that list is getting smaller. And, for many people marching, it was sparked by the US, but it was a march for women everywhere.
‘Cos you know what? If feminist progress gets pulled back 20 years by the Trump administration, it sure as shit ain’t good news for women internationally. Like it or not, the President is widely referred to as the Leader of the Free World and his administration’s steps to limit women’s health care – and the POTUS openly talking about literally, actually, committing sexual assault – gives a big green light to misogyny the world over.
Eric, my love, I could talk at you for hours. Secretly, I want to strap you down in a chair á la A Clockwork Orange and make you understand from women all over the world how frequently exhausting it is just not being a man. That when the White House administration removed the LGBTQ section from its website that is a big deal.
“You feel like everywhere you turn there are people talking about women’s rights and it feels like a criticism. There were votes, there were choices and the choices were made, so we can’t we go back to burping the alphabet and talking to your pals about how you probably wouldn’t fuck me?”
I wish I could whisper in your ear that if you think talking about grabbing women by the crotch is locker room talk, you need to go to a different gym ‘cos that one’s full of arseholes. I wish you knew it hurts my eyes to roll them when you say that in the developed world there are no rights a man has that a woman doesn’t, because it shows you aren’t listening and please, please listen.
But I won’t. I won’t force opinions down your throat because that’s what happens to people who aren’t like you every day.
Oh, and I know: I am extraordinarily privileged. I’m white, in a heterosexual relationship, with friends and family who love me. I have a voice which can be heard, especially when amplified by others who care about the same stuff. But you know what? Your voice is probably even louder.
Some people marched because they were scared. Some marched because they needed hope. Some marched because they wanted to start a conversation with you, Eric. Some marched because they’ve been marching for decades and they still can’t be heard.
We understand that it was democracy which led to recent election results: part of that democracy is the right to protest. It’s a way to let those more powerful than us that we’re watching and that we are real-life humans who could be affected when bluster becomes policy.
Love, whether you like it or not, trumps hate in every way which really matters.
Let’s have a pint soon, Eric. I’ll get the drinks in, even though it’s highly likely I earn less than you, if you promise to listen. And then, I swear, you can tell me all about how misunderstood Piers Morgan is and I’ll try to understand too.
With love and hope,
A Woman You Know
Siân is a writer, performer, creator of joyful things and sometimes she tries to explain things to young people. She’s a mainly vegan feminist who loves elephants, is scared of the dark and likes stories most of all.