This past Sunday was March 8, International Women’s Day, and the day Madrid’s yearly feminist protest take place for women’s rights.
The protest started at 5pm at Atocha, and roads were blocked off all the way until Plaza de España, where thousands of people of all ages and genders would make their way past the Reina Sofia Museum, the Prado Museum, and right through the city center of Madrid. Everyone was wearing purple, many had their faces painted in purple makeup, and arrived and marched with friends and family members. Children were up on their parents shoulders waving signs and chanting along with the massive crowds, drummers and marching bands joined the march, and people passed out stickers and flyers in the crowds, too.
A few of my friends and I met near the Atocha station at around 4:45, and it was obvious that people had been gathering there for quite some time before 5, when the march was set to begin. As we came out of the Atocha metro stop, we looked out into an enormous sea of purple t-shirts and purple signs and banners stretching all the way down el Paseo del Prado.
We immediately joined the crowd, heading toward the Prado Museum. At first it was a bit overwhelming; I have been to protests and marches before, but I had never participated in one in a different country. Everyone already knew all the chants and all the catchy phrases, many of which appeared on the signs people in the crowd were holding. It took my friends and I a while to learn and chant along to the ones the crowd was using. Some of them were similar to ones I had heard at protests in the US before, but we learned a lot of new ones, too. Some of the posters we saw said things like “lo contrario a feminismo es ignorancia,” “no somos histéricas somos históricas,” “estar viva no debería ser un logro,” y “contra la violencia machista.” However, as empowering and positive as these protests and holidays can feel, it is true that the dark and upsetting reality of why we are out there fighting for our rights and the rights of others cannot be overlooked or forgotten, even in the positive moments. Many of the chants we learned had to do with fighting for those who are no longer with us due to gender based violence and abuse in Spain and around the world.
For me, it was an overwhelming and emotional experience. It is very impactful to see crowds of people fighting and protesting for the same cause, and for rights that many people in our society are stripped of. Demonstrating solidarity and oneness in such a massive way was really moving; I had been to women’s marches and such before, but it felt different and special to experience it in a different language across the world from where I call home. Feeling like one with the rest of the crowd even though I am thousands of miles away was a very special and important experience I will hold close to my heart for years to come.
Aja Goldman, student blogger primavera 2020