Today I went to the SlutWalk in London.
Despite being a success in other places, notably Toronto, a small voice at the back of my head said, "London? That's not a good idea. Yes, it's a march which carries messages such as sexuality-poisitve feminism, freedom of sexual expression, freedom to dress, and anti-rape, but it's called SlutWalk and therefore may not work, exactly." But I followed @SlutWalkLondon. I went along with great hope. I wasn't disappointed. And here, because I am intolerably lazy, is a list of things that I did, using the corner-cutter's best friend, bullet points. [Nota bené: There were more things than just this, but these are the things that leap to mind immediately following a return home. Also, I just got to say "nota bené." That's cool.]
- Made a new friend. I was approached by a lovely girl at Green Park station who was a little bit lost. I told here where the Walk was and chatted to her a bit while waiting for H to turn up. After a while, we exited the station and she thanked me and walked off. I saw her again later on and we enthusiastically exchanged hugs and thoughts about the Walk. Good times!
- Met a couple of friends of H's that I'd neither met or heard of before, both of whom were very nice. One of them kept giving me cookies, which certainly counts as "nice". We were also accompanied by a young lady who was also taking part in the naked cycle ride later on in the day. Interesting collection of people to spend an afternoon with...
- Got to the starting point and enthusiastically took quite a lot of pictures. Maybe too many pictures. Played the obligatory "find the sign that says down with this sort of thing" game. I've been trying to get a page of php to work to display all these. It's not been working well. Or at all. Fail. I'll link to some of them on this entry anyway.
- Was interviewed by a steward and blogger, who seemed very pleased for me to give my views. My views, of course, were garbled and confusing, but I tried my best. I think she was attracted by my placard. I also gave her my new ILB business card. Hopeless narcissism, that is, right there.
- Waited around for ages for the walk to start, buoyed by the warm weather and the reams upon reams of people joining us, along with all the positive comments on Twitter, which was made for this sort of thing. Also saw the royal 'planes flying past and snapped them, joining in with the enthusiatic cheer as the crowd decided to reclaim the aerodynamic display as well as the word "slut"!
- Saw @tajasel. Said hello. That was all.
- Saw some Raëlians. Which seemed odd until I thought, "well, why shouldn't they be here?"
- Started walking. Was saluted and cheered on by people on tour buses, consumers sitting casually on outside window ledges, members of the press and public, and the entirelty of the aforementioned naked bus ride.
- Joined in with the chants. I don't usually do this on protests, even though I've been to a lot. But I caught the bug eventually and, by the end, was chorusing "yes means yes and no means no" with the best of 'em.
- Rescued a drowning bee that H spotted in the Trafalgar Square fountain. I fished her out and laid her on the ground, fully expecting her to die very soon. I shielded her with my feet, though, and made sure that she got a lot of the sunlight, just in case the sun could dry her out and she stayed alive. She remained stationary for a long time and I thought she was a goner... until, clearly dried out enough and alive, she started walking unsteadily around. She eventually walked for a long way across the square, halfway up a girl's placard, and then took off back into the sky. This made me feel fantastic! I could use it as a metaphor, but I won't. Yet.
- Quickly said a hello to @girlonetrack, during which conversation I realised that the SlutWalk was probably the best protest I've ever been on, even though it wasn't strictly a protest. I said this to her, even though I'd only just thought of it.
- Went to get a sandwich and drink, came back and listened to the speeches. Very good they were too.
- Got a tube back. In the same carriage were some more SlutWalkers. I had no idea who they were... and yet I still felt very easy in their company. So there.
So, yes. Fantastic day, which surpassed expectations in terms of weather (it was sunnier than predicted), turnout (much more people came along than predicted, even though my sister didn't, 'cause she's a lazy-arse), and my placard staying together (I fully expected bits to fall off, and they didn't!). I had high hopes for the Walk, but I did somewhat cynically expect it to be a little smaller than I thought. The atmosphere was really good, the messages were clear (and loud!), the concept was delivered well, the people were really into it, the whole thing was pretty much revolutionary. And everyone seemed to be on our side as we went along, which was also great to see.
I'm sure someone else will come up with a much more in-depth analysis, but these were the things that stood out for me, and made it an overall high of an experience, with something very hopeful indeed, like... well... like a drowned bee reviving, and taking a majestic flight off into the sun!