Mother of All Rallies, Canberra – in pictures
A cold, rainy, miserable day wakes us up. Caramel Popcorn is not quite ready to be up, but I scoop him up and we cuddle for a bit while I make the coffee and do a quick mental plan of what needs to happen so we are out in time to catch the bus. We have 3 buses to juggle, so free spirited movement is not going to cut it.
We make our way to the City Center, where one can see a suspicious amount of women with little children wondering around. Its not a nice day for a walk in the morning. I look around for some place to buy a bigger umbrella, as the one I have can just about cover the back of my hair and my by now sleeping child strapped to my back. No luck. My bus arrives and I jump in and sit close to the driver, for easy access to the doors.
And then they came. The women with babies and signs and t-shirts. I was watching the driver as his eyes kept on popping in bewilderment at all these people with kids. It was awhile before he could get the bus going – I believe he said we were 8 min late. He exclaimed “What a way to start the week!” as he wrangled the big wheel.
He was going to drop us right at Old Parliament House, but since there were so many of us, he didnt risk it. We were off and headed to the gathering at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. The rain was wispy and I could feel the chill in my arms, for some reason.
The official rally starts in about 45 minutes, but a Welcome to Country ceremony is happening here with the aboriginal people. This involves them welcoming us on their land and blessing the event we are holding on it. I wouldnt have missed, as for we are fighting for rights, respecting others should be an integral part of our ideology.
Then as a gesture of good will (I missed the exact words, but it was about our striving for equality for all and things of that spirit. Dont judge, I was drunk with excitement at all these wet fired up people around me)
we threw a branch of eucalyptus in the Sacred Fire.
The smell was so spiritual like, drifting with the smoke around us.
Then we left, what was one of my favorite parts of the day.
We set off to the main event.
I dont know who this woman was, but she gave us our chant.
I cant remember it now…
Something something… My Body, My Choice.
Obviously I am a terrible chanter. Never mind.
Then we got a glimpse of Parliament house and I saw there was already a group of people there. A rather big one, from what I could see.
There was another protest happening to the left, not sure what, so dont ask. Our troops were to the right and spilling nicely along the lawn, which was way too long and I knew the wet socks were a sure thing.
I am pretty sure I heard a war cry from that other end when they saw us coming. I wonder if they thought its only them that braved the distance and the rain.
No, no, sisters and families, we are all here. The whole few thousand of us. It felt so good.
I grabbed a coffee, as I was cold and still a bit in a dreamy like state and tried to find a place where I could hear what was happening. It took them awhile to fix the sound, so I, well we, missed the beginning part. Then came the politicians to score their points. Call me cynical, but I highly doubt it they would be down with us, if it were their party in power. Still, it was nice to feel as though we have people in there, defending our rights, no matter what their reasons are.
The rain stopped and started intermittently, but it was nice to have a break here and there. But dont judge the photos too much, keep in mind that I was holding an umbrella, a coffee, a bag and a one year old on my bag while trying to take pictures with my pinky and balancing on one foot on top of a half eaten apple.
Lots of happy little children were all around. They sure did brighten up the mood. Women with children are a powerful sight and a mighty force to be messing with. If only we were men with money, then no one can stop us…
I am serious.
You may think that if you bring thousands of people from around the country to the parliament that is supposed to represent them, that it would make a difference. That it will make a wave that will splash on the shores of democracy. You would think that.
(I took Caramel Popcorn inside to change him and give him a bit of a stretch, as he had been strapped on me for about 3.4 hours now.)
But, once you passed our rally line and went inside our Parliament House, the one that was designed to be walked on by its people. Not even inside, as you came near it, the voices of the people were distant, so distant you can barely hear, and only if you want to. Only if you really try.
Look to the right of the street:
Peace and order. Pinnacle of Democracy.
Look to the other side of the street:
Unrest. People demanding they are heard. In the rain. With children.
Whats wrong with this picture.
But there were no “grumpy feminists”, cranky women, menopausal old hags. As a matter of fact I didnt see any hysteria around the place. Maybe a few hippies here and there, but who can be judgmental of them, come on.
The vibe was warm and supportive with a good measure of wet.
There were a lot of lovely signs and slogans. Here are my favorites:
The hippie bus filled with rainbow coloured pillows of love, I am guessing.
“Midwives Bill – Failure to Progress”
In reference to the most common bollocks reason given to mess with a pregnant woman’s birthing body.
And this one:
Which sums it up rather nicely. But my favorite part is that the sign is held up by a man.
And then it was over.
I have to give special mention to this man:
And that one:
And that one:
Because he took it all in like a seasoned political activist. I had planned to let him crawl around the grass, but that was not a good idea on the day, so he spent the vast majority of time glued to me.
Now, dont go thinking that seeing as this was such a massive effort someone gave a crap. We made a few ripples, enough to say we are around, but I am afraid democracy doesnt quite work like advertised. Keeping the bastards honest is hard enough, making them listen is about as hard and impossible, unless you are a dude with lots of money, but we have established that earlier.
Commercial news didnt think we were worth a mention, not when there are things like obscure radio hosts retiring from morning shows or a bride giggling too much on her wedding day. One wouldnt want to bother the community with such trivial things as women’s rights to their bodies.
Still, it was so worth it. If not for anything else, but seeing all these babies in slings was just good for the soul. I dont think I have seen that many baby carriers, ever.
Suddenly I was not a fringe extremist that likes her kids to be close to the dismay of the wider community, but one of the many women that came to this place, on a rainy crappy day to make her voice heard.
Whether anyone did is another question.
Wet Feet Proud Heart