This one is for the women. Actually, call the men too. At this day and age, isn’t a woman’s issue equally impacting men as well? Oh and while you’re at it, you might as “grab the ‘attention’” (think elections and you’ll understand the reference) of everyone around you. Yes, even that of your lovable pets (mine’s staring at me weirdly, most probably wondering why I might be furiously tapping away at the little box I happen to spend more time with than her). Call for all their attention, because that is what the caregiver for every family deserves.
Today, we have developed in so many ways socially. As a global society we have become more accepting, open to new ideas and finally women can say for the most part that their treatment has become nothing but better and is headed towards equality. Yes, we even witnessed the power a single albeit secret statement can have in almost derailing a whole election campaign. Vulgur assumptions, and careless remarks no longer hold our sympathy as much as they might have in the past.
There flew open fiery remarks, harsh comebacks and worldwide debate on the treatment of the female diaspora. Yet, here we sit and watch as such instances proved to be only hindrances in the otherwise successful venture. Imagine the shock, the disbelief of the activists, the opposition and even the common man and woman at the turn of events when the vessel holding such thoughts is set high on one of the world’s most prominent pedestals.
Well this was the shock that pushed Teresa Shook to do something about how she felt, post the elections result night. As much of the world sat down to accept the fate, she sat opposite her computer and opened the strongest weapon currently at her disposal, social media. Within minutes, she’d created a Facebook event group, asking for a simple action. Let’s march, she said. Simple enough. Location? Where better than ground zero of the issue, Washington DC. And because there isn’t a law against it, I’m sure she didn’t give it a second thought.
By that night she had gotten just around 40 responses and a morning surprise she got waking up was a 10,000 plus response to her spontaneous proposal. This wasn’t just her idea though. All the way back in New York, there was fashion designer Bob Bland with similar moves up his sleeve. He’d previously flirted with the aftermath of the campaign’s surprise revelations, in designing shirts with the slogans that were made public. And soon long-time activists had joined forces to lead this movement.
What began as a single march idea, soon spread like wildfire to other states and there born was the concept of “sister marches” across states. And soon what began as a reaction to that monumental event, became a common issue for all women, and there was born the slogan “woman’s rights is human rights too”. It was no longer an issue just for Americans. It was a women’s cause and which country didn’t have women in it? So the world wanted in. And the members were more than happy to begin the next installation of “global woman marches.” The target was the presidential inauguration ceremony. While the 21st of January was meant to mark this historical event, the lens focused on it swivelled quickly to cover this new history in the making, because how often do you see a whole world reacting this way to a man’s words?
The stirring reason behind this was that, in fact, this wasn’t just about the words. It was about what the words represented. The freedom the men imagine they have to say what they think about women. The nonchalance people assume when giving women a “once over”. All this merged in to one big issue, woman’s rights. And right when we thought this was just another feminist move, we saw the unity in diversity, as men stepped out with them. Much like a phoenix out of the flames that killed it, from the ashes of words and actions committed by some lewd and heinous men, came the righteous actions and corrective bold moves by men who did not want to be categorised under the same label of men. And the outreach of this movement, fuelled with the help of social media meant that this went all the way to Antarctica (quite literally!) and even celebrities have come out to leave a mark on the occasion, such as Scarlett Johansson shown here
INDIA’S PART TO PLAY: #iwillgoout
As the world was bubbling with these possibilities and occurring across 60 countries in 7 continents, it seems only timely that the country with the second highest population would join in. We have faced our share of demons in the past over the issues faced by women in India. Report upon report about gang rapes across the country, terming of cities as “Rape Capital” and exhortations made against the women who were meant to remain victims all have strained the patience of the people. So when a chance comes across to put our opinion across on woman’s rights, it should be grabbed and made use of and that is what Indians decided to do by taking up Woman’s March here.
In a country where more questions are posed against a woman asking her “why she went out the way she did?” instead of the starkly obvious question to ask the criminal “what gave him the right to do what he did?”, people have decided to use the trend of #iwillgoout to prove that they hold their rights as woman and as a human, to be able to traverse and work in the society at any time they prefer. Calling ownership over their own public space, is that too far fetched to ask? Let’s show that safety isn’t brought to us by adding a “dhupatta” over our clothing, but by putting a blanket over our past presumptions and false narrow minded approach to thinking about the role of a woman. And this is the aim for the Woman’s March right here, in India. Let’s just say, at the end of today, we have definitely “grabbed them by the collar” of their conscience, and shown a stance a global society can take.