When we gather in our cities to collectively take a stand and reclaim the streets for women, we are standing for something much bigger. We stand for the people of colour who are made to feel unsafe daily. We demand justice for those who’ve faced mistreatment and even death, at the hands of our police force. We confront those who use violence against cisgender women to openly attack our trans sisters and command that it comes to an end.
It has been fiercely emotional bearing witness to each and every story told this past week. What makes me angry, is that we’ve told these stories too many times and with too little consequence. When we did it for #MeToo, I thought ‘Okay, we’ll do this’. We’ll publicly expose our trauma, our humiliation and our shame, all in the name of change and then men will care. But if they did, we wouldn’t be here.
It is said that we aren’t fighting against men, that the real enemy is the patriarchal system that glaringly looms over all of us and I agree! But I do feel that we are fighting against men’s apathy, their silence and their judgement. What will it take for them to care?
If we want to divest from the police and the criminal justice system - which black communities and undocumented people fundamentally have to do to survive - we have got to find a way to make these men face consequences in our communities.
Being radical would be holding men accountable. Being radical would be holding police accountable. This is how we end the violence imposed on the oppressed.
This is just the start. I urge everyone who sought to attend the protests to keep going. Stand in solidarity with all protestors as the police crackdown is set to continue. The Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill will add restrictions to protests if they possibly ‘result in serious disruption’, or if they could cause ‘serious unease, alarm, or distress’. The Home Secretary alone gets to subjectively decide what serious means.
This bill is an attack on the most vulnerable. The working class, black, brown, Asian and ethinc minority communities. It is an attack on women, LGBTQ+ people, the disabled and the traveller community. When our freedom to gather and express grief, trauma, anger or joy is legally compromised, then it is an attack on all people in the UK.
So please keep coming together, keep standing against this.
Rachel / @rachl_sra
and the women of Merched Undod
'The Virtual Vigil' is a series of perspectives, emotions and poems written in response to the current political climate. As a feminist art collective we want to use our space to empower the voices of those affected by gender based violence. In doing so, we hope to challenge existing narratives and teach men that they have a collective responsibility to speak up and call out inappropriate and violent behaviours. If you would like to take part in our virtual vigil, please feel welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images by Emily Mort.