“Ho Ho! Hey Hey! Women’s Rights Are Here To Stay!”

If it’s my third march and rally in less than a week, I must be in San Francisco. Let’s see, Monday was the MLK celebration; Thursday was the anti-inaugural (my toes have barely defrosted since then); and yesterday was the Pro-Choice v. Pro-Life (“Pro Life! Your name’s a lie! You don’t care if women die!”) face off. My mother and I weren’t about to miss this one. (We have a combined 74 years of protesting experience, both of us starting in earnest in 1968–a critical protest year–when I was seven years old.)

Yesterday, Mom and I were, as usual, running late as we dashed from my lovely Tenderloin apartment toward the foot of Powell Street to meet up with our sisters in arms for the 11:00 a.m. march. “There’s no one there!” I shouted to Mom as I scanned the view down Powell Street, knocking Bush-voting tourists out of my path. “How awful,” I thought, “that the pro-lifers are assembling here and no one is bothering to show up and oppose them.”

I couldn’t have been more wrong (and, in this instance, I’m thrilled to say so).

Mom and I reached Market Street, turned left and–God Bless America!–there were thousands of like-minded gals, guys and babes, toting signs, blowing whistles, banging drums, flying their ubiquitious green “Pro-Choice” balloons high in the air. (I appreciated that choice of green balloons, myself, that fertile, verdant, full of life color.)

We marched enthusiastically, chanting all the way almost to the Ferry Building, where we were routed left into the Embarcadero and instructed to line up on the sidewalks to flank the oncoming pro-life (could I please just call them what they are, anti-women, anti-children?) contingent.

There were thousands and thousands of us pro-choicers and I had hoped that the scary people wouldn’t be able to summon more than a couple hundred. But, alas, due to the modern technologies of bussing in from Idaho and flying in from Pennsylvania, their numbers were more impressive than I had imagined.

We, on the side of right, were a motley crew, with all sorts of costumes and hand-lettered signs (my fave was double-sided: “Barbara Bush Should Have Had An Abortion” and “George W., One Abortion Too Few”), the obligatory S.F. pink and blue hair, lots of piercings. The anti-women folks, however, looked like they’d all just stopped in at Wal-Mart on the way over, to pick up their standard issue t-shirt and sign. They were frighteningly homogeneous in their look.

“Come on, now,” said my mother as I growled, “if they weren’t over there and you were over here, you wouldn’t know the difference between you and them.”

“If they opened up their mouths, I would,” I insisted. I am not aware of having a single anti-choice friend in the world and I like it this way.

We stood there, we Planned Parenthood supporters, we beleaguered John Kerry voters, while The Night Of The Living Dead People trooped by us. Many fingered rosaries, giving us sorrowful looks (“Keep Your Rosaries! Get Out Of My Ovaries!”). Many were frocked clerics, wearing their cassocks or collars or whatever that stuff is called. A middle-aged woman behind me shrieked, each time she saw one, “Help! A child molester! Stop him!”

The anti-women people forked off Beach Street, hopefully to get on the busses that would remove them from our fair city (“This City Has A Voice! San Francisco Is For Choice!”), while our contingent continued tromping to Aquatic Park, where my mother and I (I confess) decided our suffering had to end. Our throats were sore from screaming (I mean, chanting) and we were experiencing serious lunch deprivation. I think the march was continuing on to the Marina Green, maybe even 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Mom and I split off up Polk Street to go to Thai Spice. (I highly recommend the purple eggplant there. Delicious!)

This morning, when my friend Nina called, I could barely croak. My throat definitely needs a rest. No protesting–at least not the audible kind–for me this week. This afternoon, Nina and I are going out to S.F. State where, for $5 each, we can sit in a darkened theatre all day and watch the S.F. Ethnic Dance Festival Auditions.

If you go, you’ll see me there. I’ll be the one not talking, not even between acts.

5 Comments so far

  1. Joann Landers (unregistered) on January 23rd, 2005 @ 10:59 am

    I have been driving a taxi in the Bay Area since 1982, and over the years I have picked up women going to get abortions. They seemed sad, not rah-rah I have a choice. On the way home they were in an odd state. Some crying. Most were not so young, more like in their 30’s or 40’s. I wonder by then didn’t they know how not to get pregnant? I CAN see women thinking they need to do this(abortion) for whatever reason, but shouldn’t the CHOICE they should be using first is the choice to say no, or let’s use birth control?

  2. shy (unregistered) on January 23rd, 2005 @ 1:19 pm

    man… i am so envious that you and your mom share something so important and passionate together!

  3. shy (unregistered) on January 23rd, 2005 @ 1:22 pm

    joann… things happen. contraception these days SHOULD be condoms because it’s the only thing other then abstenence (and that’s not realistic to ask of others) which provides safer sex. condoms… aren’t always effective.

    point is… with or without education, we have to face fact that people WILL make mistakes. and to be honest, i don’t think it’s fruitful to judge those that have had unplanned pregnancies.

    the main point is all about a woman’s choice – her body, her choice.

  4. Pickles (unregistered) on January 24th, 2005 @ 4:11 pm

    Condoms break. Women take anti-biotics which counteract birth-control and are not given that information by doctors or pharmacists and get pregnant. Women are lied to “I’ll pull out.” “Mine are duds.” Women are pressured. Women are raped. There are lots of reasons pregnancy happens. There definitely should be more education about how to make the right choice ahead of time. But until people make the right choice to fund that education, abortions will be an available choice.

  5. Kristine (unregistered) on January 25th, 2005 @ 11:11 am

    Unless a woman is randomly abducted and raped, or drugged and then raped..a woman has a choice not be involved. We’ve watched movies in school, and the women never even kick or fight or use any sort of self defense. I’m obviously not saying that it is the girl’s fault and that she deserves to be raped, but unless she honestly did everything in her power to escape from the bad situation(and hey, here’s an idea..don’t be in that situation in the first place..it’s not that hard to be smart, just use some common sense)..then she shouldn’t just turn around and beg for an “easy” way out. While I agree that abortions should be available as an option, I also believe that they should only be offered if the woman is a rape victim. A young girl shouldn’t be out having sex, thinking that she could simply get an abortion. Yes, it is the woman’s body, and it’s her choice..but then again why would she want to deny herself the ability to make the choice to be abstinent. And, why is it so unrealistic to think that people would not refrain from casual sex…yet it’s realistic to expect the government to provide abortions to everyone who isn’t in touch with reality. I’m not saying that women are bad(heck, I am one) and that they are always to blame. I do support abortions..as a last option, when it is absolutely needed(rape, etc)..but it shouldn’t just be out there as a safety net to irresponsible teenagers. The point is not that it is the woman’s choice to get an abortion..but rather that is the woman’s choice to not have sex in the first place. …just my two cents..

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