Everyone on Saturday's march in London had their own reason for coming along. My daughter and I marched alongside the contingent from Pride of London, towards the start of the crowds in Grosvenor Square. "I've no idea how we've managed to be right next to you," I said to the John Grant look-a-like next to me, "But I guess we're all here for the same reason." "Precisely," he smiled.
For the vast majority that reason was the Donald, and all that he symbolises. I am no prude, but explaining to my young daughter why the word 'pussy' was on so many placards was a good few years ahead of when I thought I'd have to. He has brought into the mainstream a rhetoric which obviously appeals or doesn't bother a vast swathe of the US electorate, but which leaves so many of us with a nasty taste in the mouth. On that point - no wonder so many women are launching lawsuits against him.
There is no point trying to shield children from such derogatory and demeaning language and hate-filled invective - not when the leader of the free world thinks it's acceptable and it's therefore reported on every media outlet possible. By burying our heads in the sand, and pretending *this* isn't happening, we will be letting the bullies, the misogynists, the racists, the separatists, win. We will become complicit in allowing such attitudes against women, against minorities, against disabled people, against anyone of difference, to become the norm. The media will report it, we will sigh and say 'oh no, not again', but soon it will infiltrate and trickle down to young people, who may well, if not taught otherwise, think that it *is* acceptable to talk about people different to them in this way. I have no doubt there are men and women who think it's just a 'bit of banter' and 'it's feminists getting their knickers in a twist about it'. But seriously, take a minute and think. What kind of person gets off on mocking a disabled person in front of millions of viewers? It's the same person who has openly talked about his own daughters in lascivious, highly sexual terms on national TV - whilst sitting next to one of his daughters. Look it up on YouTube if you don't believe me.
This is not about politics. It's about language. Language is powerful. When powerful people use words in such a way, other people believe it. 'They're in power; it's fine, they must be right." Wrong. We have to challenge this kind of language and the dangerous, derogatory and demeaning message it gives. Most of us are reasonable folk, and most of us will be appalled by what's happening, and what's being said. You have to be one sick puppy to talk about people in this way.
I took my daughter along on Saturday's march not because I was mad keen to give an impromptu explanation of the common vernacular for women's reproductive organs to her. I wanted to show her, alongside the thousands of other parents and people there on Saturday, that this current situation is not the norm. This is an aberration - and that she must never, ever, think she does not have the same rights or opportunities as men just because she is a girl. She knows, because her father and I tell her so, that her voice is as valid as her brothers', who too are told and shown on a daily basis that respecting women is a given. Respect for all matters; tolerance matters. Kindness matters. Period.