Yesterday we took to the streets – beginning at St. Patrick's Cathedral and ending in front of a porn store and strip club in Times Square – against the war on women.
Along the way, we stopped at the offices of the foundation which sponsored the anti-abortion billboard which was featured in SoHo last year which claimed that, “The most dangerous place for a black child is in the womb,” at Fox News, at the US Military recruiting station, and to speak out against the way that women's bodies are displayed and objectified on billboards (and everywhere else) in Times Square.
This was a very lively and powerful launch to a new movement. It was a beginning. I will post more about it in the coming days.
At its height, the crowd swelled to about 75 and there were joined in for different legs of the march and protest.
Along the way, we encouraged people who had never spoken before against the war on women to step up and do so. We made clear that we are done with a situation where women all too often tell their stories of rape and sexual assault, of battery and sexual harassment, of obstacles and shame encountered while seeking abortion or even birth control. Meanwhile, woman-haters and religious fascists scream at the tops of their lungs that women are “sluts,” and use the power of the state to strip away our rights. Throughout the march, people did find their voices.
Particularly by the time we reached our last stop, many people stepped forward to speak. A young man told of the first time he saw pornography. He was ten years old. He came into the living room and a bunch of his male relatives were watching. They were all pretty young and began acting out the poses and behavior of the porn. He concluded, “Pornography takes a little boy's natural curiosity and turns it into something perverted,” and into something that is about degrading and getting over on women. A young woman who had toured the porn store with me and others last week stood up and spoke angrily about what was for sale inside. She held high some of the DVD's which were for sale inside, one featuring a woman performing oral sex and other sex acts on a pitbull, one in which the woman's breasts were bound and tortured, and one in which featured the words “All Women are Goo Swallowers.” She spoke of how these videos train men to think this is what women want, “But I am a woman and I don't find pleasure in this! I don't want to be treated like this!” She called on people to get involved in the movement to end pornography and patriarchy and to come to the next meeting.
A young Black woman stepped up and spoke of how she had grown up surrounded by pornography, including that the guys she had relationships with would watch it and try to get her to watch it. She said that when you think this is what you are supposed to do you go along and you even try to find pleasure in it yourself. But now she has the confidence and clarity to say that she finds it demeaning and humiliating and that she sees it as completely bound up with the abuse that is heaped on women in every sphere of their lives. She spoke of how her father brutalized her mother for years, of street harassment, and of the experience of a female relative who works in a profession where most of the men go out to strip clubs at night and bring that same attitude of disrespect into the workplace against her.
A young white woman spoke up about how even doing something as innocent as playing online card-games has made her the target of vicious anti-woman hatred. She explained that everyone must choose an “avatar,” or an online screen picture that represents you on the computer as you long and and play games. But, if she chooses an avatar with long hair (that looks female) she said as soon as she starts winning about 25% of the time men will start calling her “cunt,” “slut,” “whore,” and threatening her. She said that when she changed her avatar to a cat, the harassment stopped. Think what it means that the cat got more respect than the woman!
A young woman stepped to the front with a handmade sign which read, “I am not an incubator!” She spoke for a minute against pornography and built up momentum until she was screaming at the top of her lungs, along with her sign, “I am not an incubator!” The crowd cheered and offered support to every speaker.
There is much more to report. And I promise to write more.
But, this was a very powerful beginning. It needs to grow. More people need to get out in the streets with us.
The reactions of men along the way were further confirmation that a new era of struggle against the enslavement and degradation of women is necessary. Will write more on this tomorrow.