Commentary. Instead of splitting hairs, we should recognize that we are dealing with a tangible and wholly feminist force.

Women’s March on Rome: ‘The time is now’

One year after it took over the streets in the United States on Jan. 21, 2017, the Women’s March has returned, and it is making headlines from Alaska to Japan. This “pink wave”—after the bright color of the caps worn by the protesters—of around 700 marches which took place Saturday all around the world, has been called many things by many people.

The hurricane of anti-Trump sentiment that resulted in the first march has now turned its focus to the #metoo movement, which has been at the center of much political discussion in recent months, both in Italy and abroad.

Under the banner of #RomeRises, Saturday’s demonstration in Piazza dei Santi Apostoli in Rome has shown without a doubt that indeed, “the time is now!”—as the press release that announced it proclaimed.

Thousands took to the streets, not just to march together but to talk about and share their own experiences, in an event featuring much-anticipated speakers: the actor and director Asia Argento, Lella Palladino (the president of the Women’s Network Against Violence), Dinsio Walo-Wright (an activist representing the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center), Loretta Bondi (a board member at the Casa Internazionale delle Donne, representing “Be Free”).

They all shed light on the dense, intertwined web of issues that formed the background of the event, and, while calling for a show of support for our American sisters, were talked about the state of the world in many different contexts, including those very close to us.

One can say the same about the convergence of the event with the #metoo movement, which has been more than just an American affair, serving also as a litmus test for the Italian public debate, shining a spotlight on the good and, unfortunately, also the bad.

While Argento pointed out that so many of her Italian colleagues have chosen not to follow her example, the disruptive nature of her speaking out lies not only in having found the courage to step up, but in showing once again how groundbreaking and striking the story of a woman’s lived experience can be—a woman simply telling a story, starting from herself.

This is clearly not any kind of Puritanism or censorship of seduction, and it is a pity that it has been misunderstood in this way, for instance by some of our French friends. It is, in fact, the firm and unshakeable belief that only from the fabric of these stories can the meaning of our encounters arise, as well as our common goals in the struggle, both in Italy and everywhere else in the world.

The Women’s March (under the slogan “Today we march, tomorrow we vote” – #PowerToThePolls) was meant to bring together “people of every age, color, religion, gender and sexual orientation to celebrate equality, diversity and progress,” but we can easily see that the very same impulse will bring another well-organized part of the movement, Non Una Di Meno, to demonstrate in Rome on Jan. 23, against the eviction of feminist organizations in the capital (the Casa Internazionale delle Donne and the Casa delle Donne Lucha y Siesta).

If we don’t become aware of the complexity of such a widespread grassroots phenomenon, boundless in scope, going far beyond the particular occasions which elicit protests, we cannot even imagine, not to mention reap the benefits from, the immense and life-affirming force that is now being exerted by female imagination, power and wisdom on the political realm.

Instead of splitting hairs, we should recognize that we are dealing with a tangible and wholly feminist force, which we should engage with all seriousness but also with joy, every time women come together and show a better path for all.

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