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Waging Nonviolence - Forty Years of Creative Actions for Choice

Waging Nonviolence - Forty Years of Creative Actions for Choice

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Published by A.J. MacDonald, Jr.
"At some point, with either CLFC or LAW around, we’d end up singing the old Monty Python song “Every Sperm is Sacred.” Placards held up by pearl-wearing, proper-suited women would proclaim, “No sperm deserves to be wasted! Arrest the masturbaters!”"
"At some point, with either CLFC or LAW around, we’d end up singing the old Monty Python song “Every Sperm is Sacred.” Placards held up by pearl-wearing, proper-suited women would proclaim, “No sperm deserves to be wasted! Arrest the masturbaters!”"

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Published by: A.J. MacDonald, Jr. on Feb 27, 2013
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Forty years of creativeactions for choice
Nadine Bloch
 
January 22, 2013
The Radical Cheerleaders in action at UC Santa Cruz’s Baytree Plaza on Nov. 7, 2007.(Santa Cruz IMC/~Bradley)
Today marks the anniversary of the 1973 passage of 
 Roe v. Wade
,the watershed Supreme Court decision that legalized abortionunder mostcircumstances in the United States. Since then, therehas been an ongoing struggle to defend women’s right to choose, which has involved myriad creative actions.
 
In the 1990s, for instance, my favorite part of a clinic-defensecampaign was always the arrival of Church Ladies for Choice(CLFC). From a block away we knew they were coming; you couldhear their laughter, smell the perfume, see the glam outfits. And when they arrived, whether it was snowing or brutally hot, they  would gather up and start singing “hers” — “hymns” were just toosexist! We’d all sing along to the familiar melodies with rewritten,topical words. There was “Stand by Your Clinic” (to the tune of “Stand by your Man”) and “This Womb Is My Womb (“it is not your womb, and there is no womb, for Wandall Tewwy”). Thedress code was consistently high camp or drag, with very hairy arms and legs popping out of over-the-top Sunday-best dressesand hats; CLFC tended to be mostly men.Sometimes the LAW would show up as well — not the cops, butLadies Against Women. Spoofing anti-feminist politics since thetime of Phyllis Schaffley and Reagan’s inauguration, these wereconservatively-dressed and well-heeled women (sometimes withmembers of the LAW Men’s Auxiliary in tow). With their whitegloves and frilly demeanor, their manifesto declared “Repeal theLadies’ Vote (Babies, Not Ballots)” and made calls to “Abolish theenvironment. It takes up too much space, and is almostimpossible to keep clean” and “Restore virginity as a high-schoolgraduation requirement.” Any woman could join LAW as long asshe was able to bring along a pink permission slip signed by herhusband.
 
 At some point, with either CLFC or LAW around, we’d end upsinging the old Monty Python song “Every Sperm is Sacred.”Placards held up by pearl-wearing, proper-suited women wouldproclaim, “No sperm deserves to be wasted! Arrest themasturbaters!” All of these shenanigans drew a contrast with the abortionopponents on their knees in prayer, provided diversion andphysical support for those who were being escorted into theclinics, and kept up the morale of those forming human-defensechains around the doors. Most of my experience with clinicdefense was with the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force,an all-volunteer group founded in the 1980s to promote peacefuland safe access to women’s health clinics; many other cities in theUnited States had groups organized to defend a woman’s right tochoose and access to safe clinics as well.In New York City, WHAM! (Women’s Health Action andMobilization) was founded in response to the 1989 Supreme Courtruling in
Webster v. Reproductive Health Services
that allowedstates to bar the use of public money and public facilities forabortions. WHAM was greatly influenced by ACT UP’s tactics andoperations on behalf of AIDS victims, especially in itscommitment to in-your-face direct actions. WHAM disrupted theconfirmation hearings of Supreme Court justice David Souter and,in July 1991, dropped a banner over the Statue of Liberty’s facethat read “No Choice, No Liberty.” The message called on thefederal government to “stop gagging women’s rights.” The NYC

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