Solidarity should go both ways, right?

Went with Twiggydyke to a demo in solidarity with the people of Gaza, in Coventry city centre last night. Following tip off from a mutual friend of ours, Ruth.

Got there on time for the start but they seemed to have started a few minutes before hand. It was freezing, but there were roughly 100 people all huddled together on the steps of the old town hall. The speakers were all in general level headed and said little that I could disagree with. It also seemed to be a productive event in being a motivator for organising awareness of other coming up protests over the Israeli government’s actions and the uniting apathy of Western govs, and actions to directly support the people trapped in Gaza. Ruth seemed really buzzing about it in the end ….but myself and Twiggydyke felt markedly different.

Thing was, we felt decidedly unwelcome there.

Firstly, it could be the crowd composition varied, but where we were standing, at the back to one side, all of the crowd we could see was overwealming made up of males of middle-eastern descent with only a handful of m-e women, while the people of other descents we could see fitted the standard UK gender spectrum profile, i.e. ‘pretty even split right down the middle’.

Secondly, at numerous opportunities, both crowd members, and speakers inititated calls of islamic chants (which the aforementioned majority of the crowd participated in).

And thirdly, while I missed them, Twiggy thought she noticed several of the young m-e people give her looks of disgust or major disapproval. (For reference, we were visibly female, possibly ‘readable’ as trans, simply 2 girls cuddled up together very close, i.e. “lesbians”, and Twiggy is quite noticably butch in appearance, i.e. gender variant). She only told me of the looks she noticed once we were home, but the observation chimed with the hostile atmosphere I felt during it.

😦

We turned up wishing to express (as much as we can) our solidarity with a populus who are (without complicating this post with the particulars) being callously oppressed, and have been for many decades, …and we came away feeling…
….unwelcome, on edge for our safety, somewhat manipulated, and that those who are closest to the affected people are hostile to our solidarity. – We went to support the human rights of the people in Gaza, not a patriarchial fundamentalist religious rally!

Why the hostility, we can’t know for sure. But surely the males of the Coventry (and other) islamic/arab/middle-eastern community/ies can see the impediments they give to their voice by their community/ies keeping most of their female members* away from public events like this, can’t they?

As equalist queer girls, this act to support a fellow oppressed group has sadly left us with many uncomfortable questions.

~ Jessikat

* I am taking into the account the possibility that part of this is down to a skewing of their gender spectrum distribution due to selective immigration flow

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1 Response to “Solidarity should go both ways, right?”


  1. 1 Pig 7 January 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Sam showed me your musings and I’m impressed. We have a similar take on things and especially regarding ‘guidance’ in schools as opposed to ‘defend our universal human rights, like…really!’. Drop me an email or add me on Facebook – my journal (personal and political) is jp.deadjournal.com


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