Last Saturday, the 11th of March, I participated in the Women’s March in Amsterdam. The crowd gathered on the Dam and after some encouraging speeches we slowly made our way to the Museumplein. As one of the 15,000 people who came to Amsterdam to protest, I got to experience how separate voices can come together to create a big roar. Instead of a shared ideal that would push us forward, I found that the reasons why people joined this march were scattered all over the place. It was like a collection of short stories bundled together into a bigger narrative of dissatisfaction.
The Women’s March was born out of protest against the Trump presidency. On the 21st of January there were half a million protesters in Washington and only 3000 in Amsterdam. Protesting a common enemy, a bad guy in a faraway land, brought people together: everyone still had their individual reasons to protest, but it was all aimed in the same direction. The Women’s March of last Saturday however attracted five times as many people. It wasn’t as much fuelled by hate and disbelief, but by hope. The first Women’s March was after a lost battle; this Women’s March was to prepare for battle. A hundred years ago, women were marching for the power to vote, now we were marching because we gained the power to vote against hate.
With just a few days to go until the Dutch elections many of the statements made were political. There was no lack of encouragement to vote and there were multiple political parties present who believed they would voice women’s rights the best. A pipe smoking elderly lady pushed a leaflet for Piratenpartij in my hand and GroenLinks and Artikel 1 showed their faces too. Devika Partiman spoke to us at Museumplein about voting for a woman at the upcoming elections, so that we can hopefully create equality of gender representation in politics. Someone had the audacity to hand out pictures of people that were horribly wounded by terrorist attacks, stating that this would have more and more if you were to vote for left-wing parties. Needless to say that leaflet was turned into tiny pieces of confetti. Angry confetti.
The Women’s March showed me how to be angry and dissatisfied in a very creative, passive-aggressive way. There were eight-year-old girls wearing Pussy Hats, signs that said ‘Ikea Makes Smarter Cabinets’, girls dressed up as vaginas. Just to be mesmerized at all the creative effort people threw into some hilarious statements and pointing out movie references or ballsy costumes was reason enough to join this protest. There were the environmentalists, carrying a ginormous globe to say ‘Take care of your mother’, the anti-capitalists who were chanting about overthrowing the state and there were those who ‘hula-hooped against hate’. A brave drag queen was walking all the way from the Dam to Museumplein with tie rips that held her yellow stilettos together digging into her skin. Groups and individuals that were often cast out by society found a place to finally present their arguments.
I listened and I learned, and I will vote against hate.
Joëlle Koorneef, Class of 2018, is a literature and antiquity major from Zwijndrecht, the Netherlands.
Picture Source: Hart van Nederland