On the 8th of March 2020, I had the pleasure of joining the Women's March in Kuala Lumpur for the first time. A friend of mine who went almost every year was the one who extended the invitation and since I didn't have anything to do anyways, I gladly accepted.
The day itself, we gathered in front of a building and stood amongst a bunch of other people who were there for the same cause. There were speeches, safety briefings, and friendly reminders. Then, we started our march.
Honestly, it was quite an amazing feeling to be marching alongside people whom you knew were there to represent something they truly believed in. While marching towards the final destination, we sang and held our posters up high. With determination in our voices and confidence in our steps, the feeling of empowerment slowly grew within my heart. Songs about rejecting the patriarchy and dirty politics filled the air throughout. The day was very hot, but the anger and dissatisfaction built up from years of mistreatment burned even more gloriously.
The march came to an end as we stopped at a field. Here, a few women were called to the front to either recite poetry or give a speech. I can't remember their exact words anymore but I do remember feeling overwhelmed with frustration, sadness, and disappointment. So much of society is made up of women and yet at times like then, it felt like women were just an insignificant portion of the world.
After everyone sang their hearts out to What's Up by 4 Non Blondes (the ultimate feminist anthem methinks), we parted ways. The organizers made sure to send people off in big groups so that everybody was protected and had companions. At this point, I remember questioning the need to do such a thing. Then as if the universe heard my thoughts and wanted to give an answer, a couple of men on the street started harassing some girls in my group for their attire. As we walked by them, they started asking us whether or not showing so much skin was appropriate. Quite frankly, a person's attire should be nobody's business but their own. But of course, these men just had to voice out their dissatisfaction with these girls' clothing.
Our group opted to just ignore them and walked past quickly. I thought that was the end of the situation. Suddenly, one of my friends who was at the back of the group called out to the front and told us to walk faster because the men were following us. One thing led to another, we all rushed into a restaurant and settled down there. They left us alone then.
Afterwards, I remember telling my friend how shocked I was at the audacity of some people to actually resort to such actions. To this day, her reply rings clear in my mind and pops up from time to time as a reminder of everything to fight for. She said, "You would think that the world is a better place now. Then these kinds of things happen and you realize how bad everything still is."
I look forward to the day I can finally store her words away for good.