Still, at least she's on the right side of history
Confusion in her eyes that says it all.
She’s lost control again.
That’s like hypnotising chickens.
Xhe is on Xer way to the march. That was still one of the most difficult things to master. Damn! Not master. To ‘get right’. That would do. It was gender neutral. The inner voice in her head still let her down sometimes. He. She. It just went to show how powerful the patriarchy was. The essay she was working on would help the world a little, she hoped. Opening a Trans-Queerspace: Deconstructing the Patriarchal Mindset. She was very proud of the title, although she hadn’t had time to get much further.
Activism took up so much time. But her Critical Studies tutors seemed to understand, and didn’t make too many demands for finished work. They recognised that activism was work and they better had. She was paying for her education in the form of a loan, and if you pay for something you jolly well get the thing you want, right? Like if you buy an expensive phone, as she rather guiltily just had, you got exactly the one you wanted, right? You didn’t get the one the shop assistant decided you must have. You got to choose, even if your parents actually paid for it. The thought of her parents made her uneasy and she pushed it away. Choice.
If she was paying for education, then you also got to choose what happened on campus at your uni. If you chose not to allow a pro-Israeli speaker, and helped everyone else shout her down, choice. If you wanted a safe space, choice. If you wanted to close a freedom of speech society, choice. If you wanted to scream at a tutor that his job was not to educate but to provide a safe mental environment for students, choice. Not their choice, obviously. Yours. As she walks through the chilly November air with her placard reading SMASH THE FASH!!!, she thinks about the march.
Some marches were more difficult than others. She shudders at the memory of an anti-homophobia march that had been jeered and spat at by Muslim brothers and sisters. Well, just brothers, to be fair. But her uni mentor, Ralaya, had explained that Muslims weren’t homophobic. It was just that their culture had a different approach to deconstructing the patriarchy. Today’s march was far more straightforward anti-fascism. Fascists were obvious. Everyone knew who they were. Tommy Robinson, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, the Tories. She had only had one problem with the last anti-fascist march. Several dozen hooded thugs, dressed in black and red and carrying flags on poles like baseball bats, had spoiled things, and she had assumed that they were genuine fascists, like the ones you saw in older history books. She was told sternly by the big girl, Maya, that these were Antifa and part of the cause. They scared her, though. She hoped they weren’t there today.
She had been invited to her parents’ house in Surrey for dinner, but had patiently explained to her mother that if people like her hadn’t gone on marches in the past, Hitler would have won. Her mother went strangely silent then, and was rather cold to her. She was embarrassed about the size of her parents’ house, and was careful not to let any of her uni friends know about it. She went down sometimes, even at Christmas, although she strongly disapproved of Christmas. How did Muslims and people of colour and… and other religions feel about seeing all those lights and laughing children? She always wore a provocative T-shirt to her parents’, especially to family gatherings. She always chose a slogan that would give them something to think about. Activism never sleeps and they needed to wake up, especially at Christmas. She had seen a Christmas market last week, surrounded by metal barriers and tank traps, and she thought that the attacks made using lorries and cars were a good thing. People died, yes. But fighting for freedom and against oppression has a cost. Just ask people of colour.
She sees two white children scurrying by with their white mother. Typical nuclear family, no doubt. A sexist white father drinking with his friends somewhere. She has to push away the strange feeling she gets when she sees white children. She could never have a white child herself. What, and bring even more white privilege into the world? All privilege is someone else’s oppression. She is pleased at the arrival, unasked, of that simple and true thought.
She is pleased because it gives her a chance to go through what she calls ‘the true thoughts’, the thoughts that no one – well, no one who wasn’t a fascist – could disagree with. She plays them out sometimes, like a game of solitaire. Diversity is strength. The patriarchy must fall, or be deconstructed, she could never decide which. Unity is strength. Actually, sometimes this one gave her a bit of a problem. If unity was strength and so was diversity, then unity was diversity. But unity meant one thing, and diversity meant lots of things. But the light shone again when she realised that unity just was diversity! It just was. Both things were true, so both things must equal each other. They just did. All cultures are equal. Well, except for the patriarchy and fascism and transphobia and Islamophobia and… Were they all cultures, or did they just all come under the fascist patriarchy? Genderphobia was the one that confused her most of all. There were so many genders to be phobic about now, and more seemed to arrive every day, like ideological junk mail. And you had better know them all too, if you wanted to keep your friends. Luckily, there were websites to help keep up.
She is at the march now, due to meet at the usual place with her crew. She hopes that thinking the word ‘crew’ isn’t cultural appropriation from people of colour. The place is heavy with police, fascists themselves, although one had helped her when the Antifa guy had pushed her to the ground. They were still fascists. They were all men, for a start. Where were the women? Did they not have women officers? Probably doing a desk job or making tea somewhere.
The familiar chants begin and the march sets off. How else were you supposed to beat fascism, if not by marching? The Tories weren’t going to be doing it any time soon. It was going to be another great day, one among many. She feels strangely safe with so many police officers there, even if they were all men. But she had paid for it, right? Student loans are not cheap.
A strange new chant goes up. They are shouting about Jews, but it is too far ahead for her to be able to hear it properly. But this is an anti-fascist march, right? It would be okay.
She has another thought, one which keeps coming back to her unbidden. She pushes it away, but it is strong and insistent. She always thinks about it as being tempted. It just cannot be controlled like the other thoughts can. It turns colder and begins to rain. Ahead, there is jostling and she thinks she sees something flying through the air. The thought just won’t go away.
What if we are wrong?