At the Women’s March in Bristol, England

Six of us from RC joined in the Women’s March and rally in Bristol, England. The mood was optimistic, despite the seriousness of misogyny and the anger about it. We had two No Limits for Women posters (which were often photographed) and a couple of posters asking, “How has your life been affected by sexism and male domination?”

My most enjoyable conversation was with a group of eight young adult women. I asked them to tell me how sexism was affecting them, and I could see that their listening to each other made the connection between them stronger. It was also useful for me to speak at times.

At first the young women all talked about sexual objectification, catcalling [men whistling at or making sexual comments to women passing by], being asked to smile (“Cheer up, love; give us a smile”), and so on. Then one reflected on how when she’d gotten a job, no one had congratulated her boyfriend, but when he’d gotten a job a few months later, people had congratulated her, saying, “Now he can take you out to dinner.” She said she hadn’t recognised it as sexism at first but when she’d gotten home she had thought, “I don’t need him to take me out to dinner! I eat every day, no thanks to him!” That sparked off lots of stories from the others about how we don’t notice sexism till afterward, and how that feels humiliating.

I asked them if they saw themselves as feminists, and they all did. They began to describe the way people had told them that women’s equality was a good idea but “feminist” was a bad word, and what they had said in reply. We talked about the myth that women’s oppression is over—they had a lot to say about that. In the end, one of them asked me, “So how have sexism and male domination affected your life?” I was moved by her interest. I said my main regrets were about not noticing the sexist mistreatment I’d suffered at work and not standing up to it enough or putting myself central. I said that at the age of seventy, I was putting that right as best I could. They listened with great interest and attention.

Caroline New

Bristol, England

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of women

(Present Time 187, April 2017)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00