A feminist demonstration took place in Glasgow Green park on July 20, 2021 in support of Marion Millar, a feminist campaigner who has been accused of transphobia. Mrs Millar, a Scottish mum and accountant, has been charged by Police Scotland with a hate crime for tweeting photos of ribbons in suffragette colours, tied to a fence. The pictures were reported to the police by trans activists, who claimed that they represented a ”hangman’s noose” and it was a death threat to transgender people.
After being criminally charged on June 3, 2021, a court date was set for Marion Millar on July 20 in Glasgow’s Sheriff Court. According to the coordinator of the gathering, Sister Flo (a pseudonym), after the court date was set, she decided to go to Glasgow in support. Months before, a woman’s rights campaigner, Kellie-Jay Keen Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, had stated that “she was going to be in a specific location at a specific time.” It was hinted that Posie was going to Hyde Park in London, but because the UK was still in lockdown, she wasn't encouraging others because of the Covid-19 rules.
“Flo” decided to announce her intention to be in Glasgow in a similar way, even though Covid-19 rules were getting less strict. She said to 4W: “I could tweet my intention to be in Glasgow, around the time and place of Marion’s hearing on the 20th of July, for ‘early doors shopping.’ People were most welcome to come shopping too.” The phrase “Glasgow shopping” later became a type of code among the supporters who showed an interest in gathering in the Scottish city where Marion’s court proceedings would take place. A Twitter user can be seen saying on July 5: “During the early days of 2nd wave Women's rights movement (1950-60s), the husbands wouldn't let many women attend, so they called them Bridge-Nights (according to my Mum), I hope everyone is getting ready to go ‘shopping’ in Glasgow July 20.”
“The response blew me away,” said Sister Flo. “Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle, Birmingham, Ireland, Sweden, Luxembourg and of course, Scottish women wanted to ‘shop.’ It became obvious that women were outraged by Marion’s treatment at the hands of the Scottish Government and by Police Scotland.”
“Marion Millar is now the catalyst for gender critical women.”
The idea was well received by many women’s rights campaigners and supporters and, in the days before July 20, people were making arrangements for accommodation, parking and provisions for “shop goers” with disabilities. “Some women had never been on a protest in their lives. I hadn’t either,” stated Flo. “Glasgow shopping took wings,” she concludes, referring to the messages she got in support of the event and the arrangement the “shop goers” were making.
Apart from the logistics of attending the event, the term “hateful haberdashery” in green, white and purple - relating to the criminal charges against Mrs Millar - became the focus of the protest. But “Women Won’t Wheesht” (in Scotland, it means “women won’t be quiet”) which was created for a Scottish campaign in December 2020, was also used, besides the dictionary definition of the word woman, “Adult human Female” and “I Stand With Marion Millar.” T-shirts with these slogans were printed, and banners/flags produced.
“Marion Millar is now the catalyst for gender critical women,” stated Sister Flo.
However, a week before the hearing, Millar’s solicitors were notified that it had been postponed until August. According to Sister Flo, the grassroots feminist group For Women Scotland suggested that the “Glasgow shopping” could still go ahead in Glasgow Green,where the Speaker’s Corner in Glasgow is situated, which has been “the setting of many suffragette rallies.” The protest in support of Mrs Millar was renamed “Terf in the park.”
"If Marion spends a second in a cell they’d better clear some space because we won’t stand for it."
The event went on peacefully, according to what many attendees told Sister Flo, even though there was a counter protest by trans activists nearby. There were speeches from feminist campaigners, starting with Marion Millar, dressed as a suffragette. Dr. Kate Coleman, spokewoman for Keep Prisons Single Sex, talked about the “betrayal of women in prison.” Mrs Minshull said in her turn that women “just have to talk to other women. Your silence enables abuse.”
Groups like For Women Scotland, Northern Radfem Network, LGB Alliance, Scotsman journalist Susan Dalgety and comedy writer Graham Linehan, also spoke on the day. Some of the speakers made calls to action, talked about history or read poetry. Politicians and bloggers were also reported to be among the 300 attendees at Glasgow Green park, according to the account of @HackneyReSiste2. The speeches can be watched here.
“I watched and listened as one by one the speakers lifted my heart with calls to action, poetry and history. Politicians, bloggers, fabulous lesbians, glorious wondrous women. And all ended with Women won’t Wheesht,” said Flo. “I met women from all walks of life. Eager, bursting to talk about life in Nicola Sturgeon's Scotland. For a short while, Glasgow Green was my spiritual home. I found my witches.”
Writer Graham Linehan agreed. He said to 4W that “it’s always lovely” when the feminists and supporters of women’s rights are able to “get offline and meet each other,” stressing that the gathering at Glasgow Green was “particularly special,” with both known names in the women’s rights movement and regular people who have been speaking up against misogyny for years. “All of them lovely, though angry and getting angrier.”
“If Marion spends a second in a cell they’d better clear some space because we won’t stand for it,” he finishes.
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