I couldn’t make the march today. Or rather I didn’t. It wasn’t that I woke up too late to join in as I had said to a friend (sorry Mich), but it was because I had no motivation to join in another protest which did not seem to have any objective at its end. I tried searching for the aim, but could not find it. Perhaps I did not look hard enough. Laziness. Of late I have found little to no motivation to join in to protests. For years I had, and I wanted to change the world. I even did my Masters which focused on social change. But I find my passion may have been misplaced. Which leads me to my next, possibly more personal point.
I had another reason to skip this march of such a magnitude which I suspect didn’t lose much from my absence, seeing the strength in numbers being reported. I lacked interest in thinking of women as strong if they joined in a march and walked in throngs through cities. I recently lost one of the strongest woman in my life, my grandmother. She was a housewife, a mother, a grandmother who was pretty much also a (third) parent to me, a story teller, a knitter and a loving person. She was very intelligent not only because she read but also because she understood. The difference between her activism and the activists at the ‘Women’s March’ – though the former I suspect doesn’t get counted as activism because it isn’t visible, loud and intense – is that she did it in silence with her actions, and with her voice (audible) at crucial points. Her stories of her childhood and how she negotiated it – overturning gender norms; her behaviour as a parent to me – encouraging, understanding, strong-willed; the fruit of her labour including little bikinis for me when I developed a skin pigmentation condition aged 5, and woollen scarves when I moved to England – it reflected care and hard work; all this influenced how I understand what a woman is. This was in mundane practices, yet we do not think of this as a woman using her agency for change.
Today I am studying further and working because of the women in my life like her. Her encouragement made me continue to work hard. Losing her made me emotionless at first, feeling nothing at all, hollowness. I still cannot comprehend this loss, the fact that I can no longer look at her, tell her about the many things I am doing and watch her swell with pride. Eventually, it made me realise that we sometimes forget, in our neverending pursuit for individualised worth and self-importance, that it is in mundane realities too that we challenge norms, not just to be contrary, but out of conviction. This conviction makes the individual act when it is important, not react, leaving a lasting effect on those around them. It is (one of) the lessons I have learnt from the amazing women who have been in my life forever – my great grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, my sisters (the cousins as well); those relatively newly met such as friends, lovers and mentors for whom I have developed respect and friendship; and also supportive men in my life including my father, my brothers, uncles, and indeed friends, lovers and mentors. It is what I communicate to those with whom I forge new relations, and seek to always better my understanding of realities, and indeed my practice. We all have strong women in our lives, and can appreciate them too in their mundane existences.
So I am not going to go to a protest, but I respect those who do as their use of agency indeed is essential. Instead, I will use my agency to act reflexively and strive to appreciate the ability to make changes in everyday practice.
And I will turn up to vote appropriately when given the chance.