As Women Walked With Purpose And Power The Streets Belonged To Us

Hey everyone Last night, (Wednesday) I walked the streets of my city with purpose and with power. Now you may say there is nothing unusual in that  and to a certain extent you’d be right. As someone  who has been on t more than her share of demonstrations in support of causes I believe in, I am and it has to be said no stranger to wearing out shoe leather on such occasions. This however,  was different, this was the first all women’s march I had ever been on in all my  years on earth and it was a very empowering experience.

The march kick started the 16 days of violence against women as women and a number of supportive men marched through  the west end of Glasgow from  the botanical gardens along Byres Road through Gibson Street To the final destination of STUC building on Woodlands Road. 

As I was travelling from Baillieston which geographers or avid readers of this blog will know is located on the most eastern edges of Glasgow’s east end I had feared I may be late for the start of the march as I was still in what locals call the village at 5 PM. Thankfully however, I know my shortcuts
and due to the magical combination of the 900 bus and the underground  I made it with a bit to spare. 

Whilst at the underground I bumped in to Shakera  a student I had met at a all women’s social event at Glasgow Caledonian University earlier this year. Like me,  Shakera  was going on the march  so it was good to meet  even if it was unplanned and it was nice to be introduced to some of her friends.  

As we joined the procession at the botanical gardens the drums of the all women group  Sheboom  got us marching to the beat of progress.  This was women power at its most passionate and it was with purpose and power we chanted in to the evening air  whose  streets our streets, and whose city our city  as we reclaimed the night and the streets of Glasgow for women and said no to male violence against women based on our biology or in the case of some of us our acquired and correct gender. Yes Germaine Greer  I may be a trans woman but make no mistake I am a woman no matter what you say and last night I was a woman of contrasting emotions. You see,  as I marched along with my sisters I felt and explosive combination of pride and anger.  I was proud we were marching against male violence but anger that we needed to do it in 2015.

The fact is however that we did have to do it due to the fact that even in this time of so-called social and cultural enlightenment women’s rights cannot be taken for granted in what’s supposed to be a forward thinking bastion of democracy  I hate to say it but  both Scotland  in the UK are a distance behind many of our European neighbours when it comes to loosening the strings of patriarchal society which has served men so well for so long. For too many years men have enjoyed the kind of societal rank, power status which unrestricted power brings and this brings with it an arrogance which when unchecked leads to both the emotional and physical abuse of women which all too often leads to sexual abuse and that is why this march is such an important occasion in the female calendar. The fact is that despite what some of the more ill informed males in our country may believe when a girl or a woman says no to sex or any unwanted attention then no is exactly what she means. If a woman says no she does not mean no or maybe later  she means no and a denial of that is a denial of her human right to freedom of choice. 

You know, whilst on the march I saw more than one of my fellow marchers wearing the white ribbon which is the official symbol of the 16 days of action campaign but  also sporting a badge which to me summarised the reason for march in one simple sentence.  The badge had this message it said ‘The Way I Dress Does  Not Mean Yes’  It is this message which we need to get across to as many men as possible as there are still too many who having been brought up by male role models who had these primitive attitudes are under the influence of subliminal sexism. The message this gives them as to how they should treat woman is dangerous, deluded, and wrong. It is  this type of stereotypical behavior which leads men to believe we are second class citizens rather than their equals. This kind of attitudinal prejudice against women is reflected in all walks of life from the sports field to the corridors of political power where the real  decisions are made.  This if left unchallenged  will mean that our daughters  and grand daughters  will still face the the institutionalised discrimination we are facing now.

This to me is completely unacceptable and and the reason I decided at least in the metaphorical sense to become the mini skirted milatent I had always known myself to be. I stress this was only in the metaphorical sense as November is too cold  for a mini skirts and at 54  I doubt I could get away with it. Having said that, I do have good legs for a fifty something woman though these days I prefer to them covered. This however has more to do with warmth than any declaration of modesty. If I was to wear a shorter skirt I would probably only do so in a nightclub and I would probably get in to and pit of it in the safety of the ladies room.

To me if last night was about anything it was about  the right of all women to have personal safety  on the streets of our city and our country.  That’s why it was so heartening as  I said earlier to see a reasonable number of men participating in the event. This was significant because all men have important women in their lives. These women may be friends, partners, wives, sisters, daughters, mothers, or other relatives, but they  are women no man could have ever have done without and would fight with all they have to protect.

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  This picture was taken as the march moved from Byres Road to Gibson Street.
It was at the this point in the march I spoke one of the men on the march. A young man in his early twenties, he told he was marching in support of his girlfriend who was unable to attend as she worked till 10 o’,clock. An articulate intelligent man he said he worried about the woman he loves travelling home alone so late at night especially during the darker months of winter.

I then chatted to a woman who told me she had been attending these reclaim the night marches every year since 2002 and that every jacket she owns has a white ribbon on it. I said it was my first reclaim the night march
and as a trans woman I found it to be a liberating experience.  I went on to say  that though I had no daughters of my own I was marching for the ones  I should have had,  the  chosen sisters I do have and also every women who has ever felt afraid whilst walking the streets of Scotland or anywhere else for that matter.

It matters not one jot to me if the woman I march for are young or old, single, married, or in any a relationship. Nor does it matter if women are cis, trans, straight,  bisexual, or lesbian. What matters is the fact women of all kinds matter and all have the right to walk the streets without of rape, or sexually assaulted. That was the purpose of our march and it was a march I was proud to be a part of.

To me, this march was about making  a series of statements. The first of these is outlined in the picture  below

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This was taken at the STUC headquarters as listened to the speeches and enjoyed some quality woman time not to mention nibbles and some light refreshments. The women in the picture are from left to right  Helen, Patrizia, and Ailish  The last picture is of Ailish on her own smiling for the camera.

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A s I had a chat with these thoughtful intelligent women who like me share a passion for equality and women’s rights I said I believed the purpose of events like this was about saying to the world  we are women and should be respected,  and and valued as equals and loved for who we are not objectified for the gratification of certain so-called men.

During the march and the social time that followed  I talked with many women and saw many banners and placards as is par for the course as such events. There was however one issue which concerned me and that was demographic of the marchers. I couldn’t help but notice that by the far the majority of those involved were under the age of 35 this I have to say caused me a wee bit of concern.

The reason for my concern is simple and that is that rape, and sexual assault are no respecter of age. These disgusting and horrible crimes which violate our rights as women can and do happen to women and girls of all ages and they can happen in any location.  I only hope that next year more women over 35 will join us on the march and get out the comfort zones of coffee and Coronation Street.

According to my sources over 500 people of whom the vast majority were women attended the event and speaking personally I have to say that as someone who has seen more than my fair share of demonstrations over the years this has to be one of the most uplifting I have ever been on with only the 2013 Independence March when 30,000 marched through the streets of Edinburgh beating it for cherished memories. What made this demonstration different however was that I
as a trans woman was able to get information from Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre on things I can do to improve my personal safety and reduce the possibility of attack.  Some of the tips were things I had thought of before but other suggestions were new to me and will I am sure be beneficial to me in situations which may arise in  future

Also  I was greatly comforted to know that I as a trans woman can if necessary phone the rape crisis centre if I feel in any kind of danger. This buries the myth I had heard that the rape crisis centre only assists cis women and is very helpful to know

By now we were coming to the end of what had been a very important night but as we made our way back to our homes the message of the night could not be clearer  Women will not denied the right to be who are or wear what we like. Freedom to be ourselves is a valuable human right it is a right our ancestors were prepared to die for and a right have to protect. On this night that is exactly what we did and as women walked with purpose and power
the streets belonged to us

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

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