Sarah Newey explains why the Time’s Up Rally last week should make us hopeful for the future, despite all the challenges we have to overcome.
Thousands of women, men and non-binary people turned out in central London this time last week to say “Enough”. Enough to discrimination. Enough to sexual assault and harassment. Enough to the pay gap. Enough to inequality. Enough, enough, enough.
I was one of them, and I’ve never felt so empowered.
Standing in the rain, surrounded by passionate people and umbrellas shouting “We want justice not revenge!” was inspiring. Jumping on the spot chanting “Times Up! Times Up! Times Up” as we tried to stay warm was surreal. Semi-singing “Bitch better have my money!!” (will Rhianna ever get old?) with thousands of others was hilarious. The weather might have been damp, but our spirits certainly weren’t; the enthusiasm was infectious.
The Times Up rally, organised by Women’s March London, was about bringing people together to highlight to those in power that they need to take women and non-binary people’s issues more seriously. But it also showed us what we can do when we stand together. How much noise we can make. How much we can achieve. For me, that was the rally’s biggest achievement.
Sometimes the challenges we face seem insurmountable, and it’s easy to lose hope that anything will ever change. Indeed, stories like the FT’s this week – which revealed the disgusting behaviour of some of the attendees of the all-men’s Presidents Club Charity Dinner – makes it seem like we’ve made no progress at all. When we’ve all been working so hard to create change, how can anyone think that behaviour is acceptable?
It’s a good question, and demonstrates how much further we have to go to gain real equality. But the fact that thousands of people turned up last week matters: it shows that the tide is beginning to change; it shows just how many people are passionate about making sure we go forwards, not back. I don’t think anyone stands in sleet in central London unless they’re committed.
For me, this feeling was perfectly encapsulated by Stella Creasy. The Labour MP for Walthamstow said: “A year ago, everyone told us this was a flash in the pan. They said women will march and then they’ll go home and nothing will change. That’s the point. Everything has to change because #MeToo isn’t just some hashtag, it’s saying we’re not going to cope any more, we’re going to change the rules.”
Standing there in the buoyant crowd, alongside a friend dressed as a period, gave me hope; because if we all take small actions towards progress, the sum of our actions will be colossal.
That’s also why I believe so strongly in Revolt Sexual Assault. I love data, and I think statistics are important – but nothing is more powerful than our stories. Our campaign is poignant because of the bravery of every single person who shares what happened to them. They humanise the issues, and when seen together make more impact that any statistic could. As Oprah said at the Golden Globes, “speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”
Thousands of people were at the rally in London, and hundreds of thousands more turned out across America – standing together to say “Enough”, your Time is Up, we want change. Just imagine what we can do when we shout together – how loud we can be. It makes me hopeful for the future.