Today, just six days before the UK is leaving – or was supposed to be leaving – the European Union, thousands of people are flocking to London for the Put It To The People march. They’re marching for a People’s Vote, for the politicians who are laughably running our country to listen to what the electorate want and not plunge us into the chaos of Brexit with (as far as I can see) no plan or thought for its consequences. Content warning for mention of mental illness, abortion and rape.
I can’t be at the march today The cost of visiting London for a second weekend in a row would have stopped me, even if I didn’t have other commitments. I feel helpless and despondent, sitting at my desk with a seemingly endless to do list. I can’t help but think that I would feel better if I was there, in the crowds of people. Even if the march doesn’t achieve anything (and I really hope it will) those people are making a strong and visible demonstration that we want our government to actually listen to us.
Except, I probably wouldn’t feel better if I was there. I feel nauseated right now, as I sit here trying to make a list of all the tasks I keep forgetting. Finally having a plan for the next six or so months takes away the stress of not having a plan, but it’s been replaced by the stress that I’ll fail to sort everything out and get my shit together in time. The anxiety that would come from being in swathes of (rightfully) angry protestors? I don’t think that would make me feel good.
I want to turn off the news and shut my eyes. I want to indulge in paperback books and masturbation and forget what’s happening. I want to ignore the fascist dictatorship that our world seems to be turning into. I want to pretend that if I don’t check the news tomorrow morning then there won’t be another awful headline.
It’s a position of privilege to not give a fuck about politics. I give so, so many fucks about politics. My very existence – as proven by the politicians who are all but ready to reinstate Section 28 – as a queer woman is political. A disabled queer woman, if I’m bite the bullet and talk about my mental illness for what it really is. Right now, though, I definitely wish I didn’t give so many fucks.
Or, maybe, that we weren’t governed by systemically sexist, racist, capitalist-based institutions that are led by people who seem all too keen to fuck us over. That would work too.
From Trump to Brexit to SESTA/FOSTA to the election of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States despite strong evidence that he is a rapist; from the attack on abortion rights to the attack against trans rights to the school shootings to the fact that police can get away with shooting unarmed black people… Well, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the world has turned into a shit show. It’s not all bad, of course it’s not: the world is full of brilliant, inspirational people who are doing incredible work. Right now, though, it feels like we’re taking one step forwards and two steps back.
Sure, we showed up to support the campaign to Repeal the 8th in Ireland and celebrated when women won the right to make decisions about their bodies, but we forget (or at least, I do) that abortion is still illegal in Northern Ireland. Let me repeat that – part of the UK is still under Victorian-era rules about vulva-owner’s agency. In fact, rape survivors choosing to end their pregnancies can still face longer sentences than those who assault them.
My point here? I want to fight every single battle, but I’m tired. There comes a point where giving a fuck about politics doesn’t do anything to change the world but instead hurts me. This week my depression and con-drop ganged up on me, along with a generous anxiety attack or two that someone had again linked my legal name to this blog. I have broken down into tears, struggled to eat, and been unable to summon the energy to do things that excite me most because it feels like hate is winning.
Being in London today, with the hours of travel, the emotional enormity of what we are marching against, and the overwhelming crowds of people? That would be detrimental to my health. I’m trying to persuade myself that it’s ok that I’m not there. As someone with anxiety, it’s easy for me to feel guilty for taking care of myself instead of doing “something more important” – which my depression-the People’s Vote march is. I’m writing this, not only to express my support for those marching today or to explain why I’m not there, but in case there is anyone else thinking that they are not a good enough feminist, activist, or ally because they can’t make it today.
I feel you, but our radical self-care is also playing its part in changing the world. Tweeting or writing letters to your MP sometimes doesn’t feel as meaningful as actually showing up to protest. I want to tell you that whatever your reasons for not marching today are, they’re valid. (Unless you’re a xenophobic arsehole who usually visits my blog for the filth, in which case I’m confused as to why you’ve read this far in a rather political post.)
I believe that activism can and does happen via social media, even though today I want to be doing more to show that I won’t shut up while the people in charge fuck up my future. Our future. Today people are taking to the streets and marching in solidarity against a woman who claims she’s on our side. Today, I’m going to put my exhausting anger to one side and try to find hope that this march will make a difference, will mark a turn in the tidal-wave of hate sweeping through the world.
Thank you to the folks who are marching today. Thank you to everyone who wants to be there but can’t, because of caring responsibilities or jobs they can’t afford to lose or the cost of getting to London or their health. I like to believe that the folks who are there will march for us too.
I cannot be there in person, to march in solidarity, but believe me, I’m there in spirit, to hope with all my anxiety.