Last year, over 600 cities around the globe joined in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. Just last week, the Weekend of Women saw around 250 cities took to the streets to march and chant again. This time, the official slogan was “Power to the polls,” in anticipation of the upcoming mid-term elections. The powerful catchphrase accompanying it was “Look back, march forward.”
I attended the March in Rome, Italy, where hundreds of people from all over the world came together to protest oppression and injustice. The March here was truly international, as there is a big American community in Rome as well as expats from all over the world. Even tourists who were in Rome on vacation joined our march for equality.
We don’t have exact numbers, but the general consensus seems to be that attendance has decreased since last year. Despite this, I am extremely pleased to point out that a lot of men – both Italian and international – passionately attended and joined in the feminist chorus, bringing slogans and supporting women. “This is what a feminist looks like,” they sang proudly side by side with us with smiles on their faces.
The #PowerToThePolls aspect wasn’t overlooked despite us being overseas, because Italians have elections coming up too, in March. The organizers of the Women’s March, American Expats For Positive Change (AEPC), made sure that we had stands where Americans could register to vote.
We sang beautiful renditions of MILCK’s “Quiet” that inspired the #ICantKeepQuiet movement, and the gospel classic “This Little Light of Mine.”
Of all the amazing speakers, activists and heads of grassroots organizations, the one who certainly made headlines was Asia Argento, the internationally-famous actress and director who has been at the center of the conversation ever since the #MeToo movement sparkled last November.
Asia Argento took the stage towards the end of the March, and she talked about her tragedy with the fierceness of a lioness. Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her when she was 21. Argento opened up about her trauma and the repercussion of rape. The “monster” inside of her, she confessed to the crowd, kept on growing, eating her alive, consuming her for twenty years and becoming entangled with her. She started seeing her own body as an object, she let it become something “distant”, so caught up in the entertainment industry, a world where the objectification of women’s bodies is so common it’s been normalized to the point that most people don’t even notice it as unnatural. It took her two decades to fully metabolize what had happened to her, to find the courage to speak freely and openly about it.
Unfortunately, #MeToo wasn’t a successful campaign in Italy as it was in the States. Because of her job as an actress, Asia Argento was victimized a second time, by the media and the people who called her a whore after she confessed Weinstein had raped her. People started saying it wasn’t really rape because Argento wasn’t tied up (really?), because she had shown too much skin in the past, and that “she was asking for it.” Apparently, her rape had been a ploy to further her career.
These responses don’t belong in the 21st century. “This is the Middle Ages,” Argento said at the March. “We must move forward. We must take power. When women have the same power men do, I’m sure violence like this won’t exist. Cases of women abusing their power are very rare.”
With her powerful speech, Asia Argento gave strength and solidarity to everyone who has ever been abused, sexually, verbally, and oppressed by those who hold a power position. “MeToo is the identification of a woman with another woman’s suffering. Without woman solidarity, we are getting nowhere.”
May the shame that she felt, that every victim of abuse felt befall on the predators. “Because, remember,” she said, “predators are always serial. They never strike only once.”