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    One million women march in D.C. to defend rights




    The Portland Alliance, June 2004


    The March for Women's Lives has been old news for a few weeks now, but lest you think there's nothing left to glean from that historic event, I'm here to provide some additional commentary, a few catchy slogans you may want to use at the next march and other tidbits of information for continuing to fight the good fight for women's bodily autonomy. First off, don't listen to any fools telling you there weren't at least one million people there, because there were. Anticipating the inevitable doubters, organizing leaders American Civil Liberties Union, Black Women's Health Imperative, Feminist Majority, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Organization for Women (NOW), National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and NARAL Pro-Choice America (phew!) had a system in place where volunteers took names of attendees and in return gave them small green “Count me in” stickers. At first I only saw a few people wearing them and didn't know what reproductive cause they were protesting/advocating, but after a while I caught on and got myself stickered. So when the organizers say there were 1.15 million people there, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. FYI, Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette estimates around 700 people from Oregon crossed the continent to attend the march. >PICTURES!! From the march! (click link to open in new window.) Abort Bush Assholecroft GW's True Legacy Mass o' people No Mandatory Pregnancy Pro Choice Oregon RAGING GRANNIES!! All Photos: Phillip Salisbury In addition to such classic chants as “2, 4, 6, 8, separation church and state!” were new phrases I hadn't heard before and some that were just too funny to ignore: •“Don't count our eggs before they're hatched
    •“If Only Barbara had had a Choice”
    •“Fundy religions stop a thinking brain”
    •“Ban Partial-Brained Presidents”
    •“Babies saved but not served”
    •“George Bush Supports Abstinence... Lucky Laura”
    •"Marchers from North Carolina shouting, “Carolina, pro-vagina!” Another highlight actually happened the night before the march in the Adams Morgan neighborhood where the sidewalks and streets were teeming with young women in an informal display of taking back the night. This experienced demonstrator and former New Yorker has never before seen such crowds of women going about their merrymaking way, and it was pleasing just to amble along the main thoroughfare soaking in the feminine vibe. I have found the following to be true, “People cry when they experience a lack of hope or an abundance of hope,” and in a Sunday afternoon filled with joyful tears I remember exactly what it took for me to finally quit holding back and let mine flow freely. It was when Sarah Weddington stepped up to the microphone to introduce herself and got no further than her name before the crowd went totally ape. I was surprised that many people attending knew by name the woman who successfully argued Roe v. Wade in front of the Supreme Court at the age of twenty-six, but evidently this crowd was full of more knowledgeable and dedicated feminists than I assumed. I've never been happier to be wrong or more hopeful for the capable hands the future of women's rights rest in. You may have read reports remarking on the large number of pro-feminist men who attended, and there were indeed many, but I feel compelled to say there was a small but noticeable number of men attending who seemed more intent on pushing their own agendas instead of remembering this march was being held by women, for women. Under this umbrella I put every man with a sign not addressing women's rights and author Richard North Patterson, who broke the jubilant and positive tone set by previous speakers to bitterly cast hellfire and brimstone on Ralph Nader, who is neither a woman nor opposed to women's rights. Thankfully, most male attendees remembered this was a day to promote women, celebrate women and send a message to those who seek to turn back the clock on women's progress. My favorite sign held by a pro-feminist man: “Keep your hands off her body. Jerkass.” Speaking of jerkasses, did you hear about the bozo from California arrested for waving around a jar with a fetus in it? The Washington Post reports he was charged with “illegally exhibiting a dead body,” a misdemeanor that carries a possible penalty of 90 days in jail or a $200 fine. I mention it just in case you've not yet come to understand how much more prolifers respect the sanctity of life than prochoicers. Listening to media coverage of the march I heard it said that an estimated one third of the marchers were under the age of twenty-five. These new feminist activists defy any simple political categorizations, which isn't terribly unusual considering this is a population consisting of many thousands. One question commonly raised was how to engage today's young women in the ongoing struggle for equal rights when too many of them feel disenfranchised by a political system antagonistic to the issues most important to them as young women. With many young voters of all genders affiliating less than ever before with the two biggest political parties, the question of how to turn young women on to politics remains a formidable one. Fortunately, there are women coming together to address the problem, women like the founders of WUFPAC, the Women Under Forty Political Action Committee www.wufpac.org . WUFPAC is the only political action committee that supports women of all parties under 40 running for state and federal public office, an effort born from the desire to bring more young, diverse voices to the political table. Also, unlike most political action committees, all WUFPAC members vote for which candidates receive contributions from WUFPAC, a necessary means of quality control. Though I consider myself fairly well informed on such happenings, WUFPAC has apparently been helping young women get into office since 1999. But learning of their existence is new news to me and perhaps new news to you as well. I hope I've given you a satisfying, vicarious glance at the historic display of women's power that took place in our nation's capital April 25th. It was a little tricky arranging the time off work and finding the money, but it was truly worth all of it just to hear a bunch of people chanting “Carolina, pro-vagina!”


    S.M. Berg is a feminist writer from Portland.








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    Published on: 2005-02-24 (977 reads)

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