The London Pride Parade was this past Saturday. It was the second Pride parade I’ve been to. Last year, I went to the New York Pride Parade. Both parades reminded me of the Electric Parade in Disneyland, the same amount of color with more skin, sweat and penises.
It was very different from what I had expected. My previous and only experience of Pride was news footage and scenes from Madonna's "Truth or Dare" that focused on the fight for recognition and equality. Sassy and succinct suggestions to politicians for change were the focus of those clips. I saw some of that at the parade but there were so many floats backed by mainstream corporations, it's hard not to feel like the gay community has already won on some level. When banks, real estate and car companies are passing out rainbow flags with their logo on them, you can tell, truly supportive or not, they are eager to cash in on same-sex DINK couples. (Double income no kids).
I was once asked by a life coach where I saw myself in 20 years. My genuine first thought was, "I want to be the rescue animal of two rich gay married men." That is a sweet life.
The Woman's March earlier this year had the protest vibe I was expecting from the Pride Parade. That is the difference between a parade and a march I suppose. Parades have floats, balloons, music, dancing, face-paint and glitter, SO MUCH GLITTER. Marches have anger, signs, chants and warpaint.
Parades are about celebration. Marches are about fighting for change.
The Women's March in New York, was the first protest I and many other women had ever been to. It was where I learned " Woohoo!" means, "We are done with that particular chant" as letting a chant trail off sort of implies the battle's been lost.
There were a lot more men at the Women's march than I had expected. A lot of them were fathers of young girls which did not surprise me. I did not expect all the hipster men who called themselves feminists that showed up.
I have to admit I am suspicious of any man that calls himself a feminist. It's not that I don't believe men can't be feminists, some are. It’s just I have always had a soft spot in my heart for blatant misogynists. I think there are men and women who have need a very rigid definition of male and female roles as they desperately want to be recognized for the work they are not doing. Blatant misogynists open doors for me and offer to carry my groceries. Male feminist millennials are all too often all to happy for my capable ass to pick up their check and not help me with the door. I am, of course, talking about my very superficial level of interaction with misogynists.
I hate to be in a room full of them, where I feel the kiss and hug greeting expected by male acquaintances and perfect strangers is a preemptive apology for not allowing me to speak in group conversations dominated by men the rest of the night.
Most of the march, there was one male feminist standing next to me, complete with a leather messenger bag and protest pins, who struck me as a march enthusiast of any lefty cause. Judging from his pins, the women's march seemed to be an extension of his animal rights activism. He was 6’2” and towered over me as we made our way past Grand Central Station. He was pumped, very confident and not a little aggressive in his chants. To my ear, it seemed more of a mating call than a cry for change. Alone, he seemed to be scanning the crowd for an Ani Defranco wannabe that just realized how much she had missed dick to jump into his arms and straddle his progressive ass.
The section of the crowd I was in was on the quiet side. Four small groups of women tentatively started chanting, “My Body! My Choice!,” once they realized they didn’t have to wait for a chant to make it’s way back from the front. I joined in. The 6’2” male feminist standing next to me got excited. He wanted to join in but couldn’t. Instead, in the interim, he screamed, “HER BODY! HER CHOICE!” as he pointed down at me in what could only be described as a menacing and threatening manner. I cowered under his finger, frightened by his volume and misdirected rage.
I wanted to say to him, “ I appreciate your enthusiasm in fighting for my rights. I’d just appreciate it, if you did it in a way that didn’t remind me of my rape.” (Just to be clear, I haven’t been raped. It’s just that incest and molestation just doesn’t have quite the same punch to it.)
When Citibank and Barclays start passing out pap smear sticks and birth control pills with their logos on them is when we will know women have won on some level.
I’m Spring Day (real name, hippie parents)
Moving back to the United States after having lived in Japan and traveling the world for 16 years has been a bit of a head fuck, especially since I now work in the U.K. My blog “The United States of Shock!” is where I give my brilliant and bitter two cents, pence, yen and euro on my experience with culture shock and current events. If you have any questions you would like to have answered in a snit, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org