Last night I walked out of a restaurant in London’s Charring Cross, to the scene of a thug, no older than 20, beating up his girlfriend as she held on to a pram carrying a baby. She remained immobilised as the blows kept coming. My friends and I responded, guns blazing ready to fight him back and we managed to grab enough of his attention that his girlfriend used the distraction to start running away with the pram. He managed to catch up to her, she stopped, he kept hitting. At that moment, I was confronted with a reality that so many women face every day; a feeling of helplessness and the inability to fight back. While there are droves of women across the globe who aren’t afraid to vocalise their opinions, women still have a long way to go before they manage to break the patriarchal superiority complex held by so many men in power. The notion that these men feel they have the right to control the civil liberties of the opposite gender – something we so clearly saw play out on the global political stage yesterday.
It’s been 24 hours since America’s freshly inaugurated president managed to undo years of hard work for women’s reproductive rights. Surrounded by a pernicious group of like-minded men, all sneering on in support of this ‘momentous’ occasion, the nib of Trump’s unnecessarily expensive (and probably engraved) pen scribbled out his newly founded power over the dotted line. For now, the US abortion laws are safe, but in that one stroke, he managed to shatter the future of millions of women around the globe who rely on non-governmental organisations to provide them with the safe means of undergoing an abortion. Under this policy, all organisations receiving federal funding must agree to “neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations”.
The image created by this group of 7 men captures the essence of something much deeper and more sinister than the disparities between pro-life and pro-choice. It reflects the ongoing struggle for women to gain control over their own rights. It promotes the patriarchal view that men have the right to determine what women can and cannot do with their own bodies. It reinstates the archaic construct of a man’s ownership over women. This was apparent over forty-three ago when Roe vs. Wade played out in the Supreme Court, and an all-male courtroom granted women the rights to abortion. It continues to be apparent today when a room full of men took that right away.