There were thousands of them again this year — women, girls, babies and so many others. Collectives, autonomous groups, anti-violence centers, women’s shelters and many private individuals, who didn’t just show up from curiosity, like last year, but knew exactly what they were taking part in. They were of all ages, from all backgrounds and there was no party flag flying to attract loyalists.
The only thing bringing them together was an incredible desire to be there, to smile and to shout — as loud as one can, for everyone to hear. And even sing, as many did in the mobile truck from which testimonies were read out from fellow comrades around the world. Non Una Di Meno is a global project, and on Saturday this was there for all to see.
Audre Lorde’s “Gli Usi delle Rabbia” (The Uses of Anger) makes a very interesting argument, showing how anger, for all intents and purposes, is a well-defined political sentiment, with a transformative force that should not be underestimated.
The national march organized by Non Una Di Meno turned into yet another rising tide, where joy, bright colors and the sheer enormity of the numbers of women and men present were joined by the particular type of anger described above: “a pain brought by distortion” whose aim is change, as Lorde explains, herself a feminist, a lesbian, a black woman and a mother. It is a very different sentiment from the hate-filled fury whose end is only death and destruction.
Among the women who started off from the Piazza della Repubblica, crossed the city and arrived at the square in front of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, a different rhythm was felt compared to last year: an enthusiasm, a forward impulse, but above all the patience with which the territorial organizations have been working this year.
One could feel the effects of this patience, which managed to slowly tap into the feeling of anger in order to make it an important source of mutual strengthening. And it is certainly true that, in a process that began more than a year ago, some of the participants decided to organize events in their own local public squares instead.
This in no way indicates a lessening of the disruptive impulse, but rather a wider dissemination of political practices that have now decided to take action in all the areas where they have taken root. All within the particular local conditions, interweaving into the different situation of each context.
Therefore, although a smaller number of people took part in the march in Rome compared to last year, we are hopeful that this itself signals a more developed structure for the movement, and a more solid and mature organization at the grassroots level.
This international day dedicated to the fight against male violence directed at women had fuchsia as its theme color, and it was a lively and fun affair, featuring, among other things, the many balloons that soared through the streets of the capital sporting the hashtag #lacasasiamotutte, showing the wide support that the Casa Internazionale delle Done (International House of Women) of Rome has received from the movement, as well as from anyone with a modicum of awareness of its value as an institution. Seeing all those balloons flying surely means that the ongoing attempt to evict it will never succeed, it will simply not be possible.
This is also a way to use one’s anger for good, neutralizing its destructive aspects, which of course have been deconstructed by feminism and women’s politics for the past 40 years. It means not straying from the path of telling one’s story with full self-awareness.
There’s nothing more powerful than family and relationships. And that could be seen in the presence of many more men and boys, who marched alongside their daughters and loved ones. They gave the impression of being much less intimidated by the event than in 2016, and also aware of all the ways in which the various groups belonging to Non Una Di Meno have been acting on the local level without any gender segregation.
Women are not victims! Stop pushing the pitiful and distorted narrative focused on non-achievement, and start talk more about our strength, about those who have decided to escape the violence, about those who want to stay alive and fight. We are strong and free and we have a plan! These were some of the slogans that were carried on signs and banners, together with many others, powerful and focused: for instance, about freedom for women being nothing else than a gain for all, or another one about us being the great-grandchildren of the witches they never managed to burn, and never will.
And there was a banner which spoke of an eternal flame: “Fire Walk With Me,” which calls to mind Laura Palmer from David Lynch’s masterpiece, and which expresses, maybe better than could be expressed in many more words, that particular trait which defines women, and especially feminism: relentlessness.
It is impossible to stop this rising tide, just as one will have a hard time trying to bury what the events of Saturday have brought out into the light.
One aspect of this inevitability is the 57-page Anti-violence Plan, now widely distributed, which of course will be the subject of much debate, but its very existence will make a difference. Then there is the fact that women’s shelters are being established in all regions, the other part of the approach that must be pursued on the long road ahead, centers of practical experience that demand we respect a fundamental principle: in order to eliminate male violence against women, we no longer have the luxury to turn a deaf ear to those who have been working on this for decades, in the shelters and safe houses.
Women for women, as the slogan goes — together with the practical experience needed to hold a steady course on the path being carved ahead, and to never give up, knowing that Non Una Di Meno succeeded in channeling the myriad desires of those who took part.
They are desires that aim to change politics, words of freedom, which you find once you have turned your anger into a priceless resource and say no to all forms of hate.
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