We picked up protest signs from young women on our way to the Capitol in Sacramento. The signs said Stop the War on Women and were distributed by Rock the Slut Vote. Rock the Slut supports birth control, reproductive health and according to its website, all women who believe in raising independent daughters. It also likes talking back to the radio blowhard, the slut-caller whose name will go unmentioned.
You might not have seen any news about the Unite Against the War on Women rally held Saturday in Sacramento. The media didn’t cover it, and there was only spotty news on duplicate events held across the country. But we left a footprint.
Half the crowd in Sacramento was young, which is encouraging and important because it’s their bodies and futures the religious right wants to mess with. Young people have more to lose in this War on Women than their mothers and grandmothers. But, plenty of us were in Sacramento, too, and surprised to be still marching for women’s rights.
“Thirty years ago we never thought we’d still be having debates on the role of women in the workplace and birth control,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier in a message to the gathering.
Folk singer Holly Near was there on the Capitol steps, singing her classic, “We are a gentle, angry people. And we are singing for our lives.”
My group came in two carpools from Sebastopol. Driving over, we worried about the turn-out. The national protest was organized quickly by two women in February. Karen Teegarden in Michigan and Desiree Jordan in New York, fed up with vaginal ultrasounds, personhood amendments and take-backs in women’s health care, named their effort Unite Women and called for a countrywide protest. The thing finally caught fire on Facebook.
Roughly 400 gathered in Sacramento. We saw a young man with duct tape on his mouth and a sign that said, “Fact: Women do not need men to speak for them.” An older woman’s sign said, “We brought you in as mamas. We will take you out as voters.”
In Denver more than 200 women and men rallied behind a banner saying “My uterus, my business.” In Helena, Mt., Dr. Susan Wicklund, the rare doctor unafraid to say she does abortions, said women should be outraged over attacks to shame them for getting a common, legal medical procedure.
There were 1,500 in Austin, Tx. where would-be president Gov. Rick Perry wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood. Some 300 gathered in Richmond, Va., the home state of .. wanna be vice president Bob McDonnell, who tried to force a vaginal ultrasound on women getting abortions.
Back in Sacramento, Patty Bellasalma, California president of NOW, urged parents to teach their sons “not to accept the entitlement of white, male privilege.” Grandmother Marcia Reimers warned if the far right takes over in November it will install Supreme Court judges “who will be able to control women for decades.”
In New York City, actress Martha Plimpton marched with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney who famously blasted the all-male House committee hearing on contraceptive coverage, demanding, “Where are the women?”
They were in Oklahoma City, talking back to personhood legislation and in Raleigh, N.C. against cuts in child care and early childhood education. They came out in Madison, Wis. Louisville, Nashville and even Phoenix. Twenty five people rallied in Coeur d’alene, Idaho. And the list goes on.
The day before the rallies, House Speaker John Boehner said he’d help young people on student loans but he’d take it out of the health fund that provides breast and cervical cancer screening. And then he once again declared there is no such thing as a war on women.
Really? In Vermont, former governor Madeleine Kunin told women we better get involved in political decision-making. Because, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”