Why We Must Put Our Bodies on the Line to Fight Against the Right-Wing War on Women's Rights
Continued from previous page
Any kind of direct action that challenges the notion of shame and secrecy around reproductive health and abortion and garners media attention would be a victory. Whatever SlutWalk's flaws, it did a quick and effective job of educating the media about victim-blaming, using a basic level of street theater and clear messaging. We can all do the same thing without the exclusionary aspects that dogged some SlutWalks--and to do that, we absolutely must include in our push for a new paradigm the messaging and resources of the reproductive justice movement, which has been advancing the framing of reproductive rights in a human-rights framework extremely effectively. It also has to be clear that since we're dealing with a violent, often paranoid opposition, we need to strategize about ways to act without endangering the safety of women and workers at clinics--but of course, shifting the conversation away from clinics to CPCs, to right-wing funders, to bureaucratic office might make strides to that end.
So as the year comes to an end and we shake ourselves off from bruising battles over our bodily autonomy, it’s worth thinking about next year and asking: why shouldn’t we put our bodies on the line for the sake of our bodies being on the line? And why shouldn't those of us who will always be able to borrow the money and make the trek to a clinic at least consider risking arrest for the rights of our sisters who can't take that risk?
There are so many woman who are throwing their hearts into this work already, on the policy level, in courtrooms, in the grassroots, in the media and in the streets. Dreaming up bold new actions is in no way a condemnation of their work, but rather the beginning of a conversation amongst ourselves about how we can change the larger, national conversation.
This isn’t new--feminist direct action has a strong tradition. And it seems to me that 2012 is the year to make it happen.
So, purely for the purposes of imagining--and keeping in mind that for actions like this to work, coalitions need to be built, numbers needs to be confirmed, and the commitment needs to be strong--I went on the Internet and asked my fellow feminists to imagine what a new or innovative big feminist direct action, piece of street theater, or protest would look like in their minds.
Would thousands of women get together to symbolically surround and protect an abortion clinic with our bodies? Or borrow a page from ACT UP and do a die-in with hangers and lots of visualized despair the next time there’s a meeting of the Conference of Catholic Bishops?
Should we set up our own temporary public clinics? Should we--and I give major upsparkles to this idea--do some sort of direct action at a Crisis Pregnancy Center that involves myth-busting, disseminating medically accurate information, and offering directions to a real clinic (without harassing women)? Or should we occupy the offices of a CPC funder?
Here are some of the other answers I found while seeking input from allies.
Symbolic actions and street theater. Sonia, a friend, suggested on Facebook that we stage “so me kind of protest where each woman present wears a T-shirt commemorating a woman who died from an illegal abortion in the '50s or '60s...a photo and a name.”
Denise Ginley, a young OWS activist suggests a march at which every third woman wears the same color T-shirt to demonstrate how common abortion really is (one in three American women will have one), and how it affects every type of women.