On the march with the sisters in Salonica

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THESSALONIKI, 21 January 2018, from our Airbnb correspondent. Not a pussy hat in sight but plenty of raw passion! On a clear January day the seafront of the beautiful northern port of Thessaloniki, or Salonika to those in the know, was bursting with enthusiasm as we took to the street for the second Womens’ March of the #resistance. Having been in Washington for the original march, and witnessed the thousands of angry, joyful, strong, beautiful women marching against the patriarchy, I can tell you the Greeks really know how to do it!

For a start, this was the only women’s march where I saw men come out in equal or large numbers. They came out in solidarity with their sisters, wives, daughters, but mainly, apparently, their grandmothers.

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Women of all ages respected and venerated at the Salonica march.

There were men everywhere. And I’m not talking about suburban dads chaperoning their teenage daughers or browbeaten liberal husbands trudging dutifully along, but macho men not afraid to brandish their masculinity while respecting their women.

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“You look at my sister and you’ll feel the sharp end of my #metoo,” was the Cretan macho man’s response when I took this photo.

Slogans were everywhere. Proud, defiant slogans unlike any I have seen before. “Macedonia is Greek”, “Hands off our Macedonia” – with my limited Greek I deduced from the context that “Macedonia” must be regional slang for the female anatomy. It was fairly clear to me, no one would dare grab any of these marchers by the Macedonia!

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The local twist on the pussy hat – “Hands off my Macedonia!”

In the midst of the carnivalesque atmosphere, it was so heartening to see the LGBT community out and proud, lending their support. Clergy in their flowing robes and heavy jewellery happily posing for photos with the local “bears”, dozens of men camping it up in historical costume, some on horseback, army veterans in fatigues singing patriotic songs.

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A picturesque Greek priest embracing the local “bear” community.
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Men are not afraid to dress up in skirts and embrace here.

There were rousing speeches, mostly by men, about the need to defend “Macedonia” and keep it out of foreign hands. Away from the main rally, I am told a delegation decorated the local Holocaust memorial and lit bonfires in a celebration of inclusiveness.

Back on the seafront the crowd dispersed peacefully, but a sense of expectation filled the air. There was even talk of starting a political party to take the fight to Athens. Maybe this is the spark that will ignite the bonfire of change?

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Brunch on stylish pink plastic stools the seafront – the perfect end to a day of protest and celebration.

IMAGES: parallaxi.gr, iefimerida.gr

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On the march with the sisters in Salonica