I wrote this piece the night before the rally and posted it on my social media. Since it says some things that I think are important, I’m publishing a slightly expanded version of it here, adding my thoughts later that evening, and backdating it to the 14th. It’s very much a post about feelings rather than facts, but I want to journal this properly anyway.
I’m checked in at Tullamarine, waiting for my flight to Canberra, and thinking about tomorrow.
I am taking more than thirty names with me to the march tomorrow. Women, men, non-binary people, children. Friends who I have known for most of my life, and friends who I’ve only known since last year. Friends who I see every week and friends who I have never yet met in person. Family members. Colleagues. Church people. Even a few precious strangers.
It’s hard to describe the emotions around this. I feel like I am carrying the grief and rage of so many people, and I also feel like they are helping to carry me. It feels like an honour, and it feels like a responsibility. It feels inspiring that so many people want to be part of this, and it feels tragic that so many people feel that they need to be a part of it.
It feels like impending catharsis.
I don’t know how big the march itself will be, but if I am in any way representative, for every person marching, there are twenty or thirty or fifty more who would march if they could. If they didn’t have work, or caring duties, or physical difficulties that make marching tomorrow impossible.
People who are angry or grieving or frustrated or traumatised or just tired.
People who don’t want to see see our nieces or our daughters or our granddaughters marching for this again in twenty years time.
People who will not forget.
I wonder if the government realises that?
In Canberra, later this evening, I write your names on my sign. I write them with care, and I write them with intention, and I write them with love.
With each name, I think about the stories I know, and the stories I don’t know. Some of these stories, I have known for years. Others, only recently. For some of you, I know only that there is a story, and I hope you will find the right person to tell it to.
Some of you are angry, gloriously and shamelessly so, and I try to put that emotion onto the sign. Some of you are there in solidarity, and I feel that when I write your names. Some of you feel vulnerable, wanting to be there, but also afraid to be, and I write your names with care, surrounding them with the names of the supporters, the angry warriors, hoping that they will lend you their strength.
I don’t know where the boundary lies between symbolism and prayer and magical thinking, but I’m pretty sure I have crossed it.
Later still, I will lie in my very comfortable bed and I will not sleep. I still don’t know what I want to write on my sign. I don’t know what words will capture the feelings, both mine and yours. I am so very proud and glad to have you with me, and I am so afraid that I am not enough. Overthinking is my super power, and I do a lot of it tonight.
And in between, I can’t stop thinking about all those stories. A colleague mentioned a week or so ago that she had been talking to her women friends, and they all had a story. It seems like we all have stories, whether they are small or large. Stories of being hurt, of being treated with disrespect, of being treated like things rather than like people. (And most of my friends are white and cis. My friends of colour, my trans friends… have worse stories, and more of them.)
Why do all women (#YesAllWomen) still have these stories?
I eventually give up on sleeping and read a funny, feminist romance novel about suffragettes instead. (Huzzah! Suffragettes!)
During the night, and in the morning, more names come in. By the time I leave for the rally, I have 48 of you with me. People I love and respect and look up to in a multitude of ways. People whose achievements are internationally recognised, and people who are known only to a small circle, but who are full of kindness and courage and compassion and humour. People who I am proud to know, and whose friendship sustains me.
People who I am honoured to stand for today.