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One Daughter’s Tribute to Her Mom & The Women Who Marched

By Natasha Gideon

Photo by Alexandra Radu for Religion News Service.

I guess we expected too much from a world under the influence of patriarchy and sexism. It was not going to change in a day anyway. Sadly, but not surprisingly, we are being silenced by those who care more about THEIR demands for what women can do or say. But that is for another day. For now I am going to continue the same narrative that my mother and many other beautiful souls marched for that day, and that is the importance of the International Women’s March 2019.

I did not manage to join the march but I got updates from Twitter-sphere. First, the good parts, the parts that made me tear up, that gave me lumps in my throat, that made me feel so proud seeing so many souls walking and chanting and demanding for our rights. What strength!

A picture surfaced: my mother, at the top of her lungs, shouting for change so loudly that I could hear her through the picture. Then, videos emerged too. Men and women and trans people and others were talking about what they wanted from this march, and again I saw my mother there, my international woman of the day. She looked younger, or maybe her fiery passion to smash the patriarchy made her look youthful. Whatever it is, I hope to be half the woman she is.

Then the flood of netizens who had just finished their brunches and decided “Ah! Time to complain!” So they picked what they didn’t like and started derailing everything the march stood for and reduced it to just the rainbow flags and placards, and it feels as if we are back at square one. Or maybe a little bit further than the first square.

So, what is my take on the whole thing?

Truthfully, I LOVE IT. Let my nerdy-self tell you why movements and marches are great despite the backlash and the flipped narrative.

I would like to introduce you to RAS, the Reticular Activating System located in our brainstem. RAS determines what is brought into our conscious awareness and is the real reason behind our realisations. Eureka!

We have all heard people say things like “Since I’ve bought my handbag, suddenly everyone is has one too!” Sebenarnya, bukan ya Shikin, it is your RAS creating more awareness of that particular brand. So if you suddenly think “Eh actually a lot of people using Mazda now” it is just your brain being more aware of that specific brand.

What does that have to do with the women’s march?

The brain demonstrates the same activity whether it is visualising something or physically performing the action. You may realise this is also the same reason why Marie Kondo ensures all items kept are visible.

Women have long existed in the blindspots, at the back of office meetings, spoken over, catcalled and sexualised, all to boost the egos and fill empty fantasies of idle minds. Powerful women? Ignored and denied because—how can that be? Women are incapable!

Guess what, the reactions to the march is proof we have activated the Reticular Activating Systems across the land.

Now is the perfect time to keep it going, regardless of whether it has been flipped to be about the LGBT community. The march encompasses everyone; women and LGBT people are not mutually exclusive. We are not just viral threads on Twitter for a week in March. I would like to call upon all sisters to speak out. Those who are neutral, it is time to do something, say something. It is our collective effort for our collective quality of lives. We are so powerful in our collective actions and we deserve the rights we are asking for.

I am happy knowing now that powerful women taking control of their bodies will be noticed. Transwomen enjoying their Teh Tarik will be noticed. “Eh makin banyak pulak puak ni. Mana datang?”

We have always existed. Whether you believe it or not, we have been here running the show. You just chose to ignore us. But now that we have your awareness, we will continue to make our mark and demand for our rights.

I can start by shutting down sexist jokes made by men around me. I am trying to teach people around me that “feminist” is not a bad word, nor do we hate men. I hope to be less afraid to speak up on MY issues. I hope these small actions incite change in someone’s lives and how we view women.

My mother made me proud to be her daughter. But more than that, I am proud of the fact that so many other people see her as a role model. If my mother at her age can march to make a difference then we as women at any capacity can do more.

Dear sisters, we have to continue to do more than exist. We have to be more than visible now, be louder, be in their faces. This year, I vow to be less apologetic and more like the women who marched for our rights. Our existence is resistance.

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Natasha Gideon is a real estate negotiator by profession so basically she gets to go into people’s houses without getting caught. She believes she owes her strength, resilience and passion for human relationships from Nadia Gideon’s ball-crushing genes.

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