[Leslie Carol Botha: Another great article by Marcia G. Yerman. Love the line – ‘Probe Banks, Not Women’. Women uniting on the war against women has to happen. All of our freedoms and our lives are at stake. Ask yourself – who owns your body – you or the state?]
Uniting on the War Against Women
Huff Post New York
Writer on Women’s Issues; Co-founder of cultureID
May 2, 2012
On Saturday, April 28, in the shadow of the 60 Centre Street courthouse engraved with the words, “The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government,” a crowd of over 500 people assembled. It was a gathering that was part of a network of events taking place across the nation, put into play by Unitewomen.org.
Two women co-founded the grassroots organization. Karen Teegarden (Michigan) and Desiree Jordan (New York) connected online. They were alarmed by the rapid erosion of women’s rights. The distance between their home states did not deter them from a motivation to do something. They created a Facebook page called United Against the War Against Women, with the theory if they built it women would come.
I was able to interview Jordan about the demonstration she had spearheaded. It “began” for her on February 19, 2012, as she watched the hearings on birth control led by Rep. Darrell Issa. “I was in shock,” Jordan told me. “They decided to drag my uterus onto Capitol Hill without reading me my Miranda Rights. I realized if I don’t do anything, I will be wrapped in a blanket of complicity.”
The day commenced at the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory with approximately 800 in attendance. A walk down Broadway led to Foley Square where politicos, celebrities, and activists addressed, entreated, and revved up listeners from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The conversation covered women’s rights, health concerns, economic security, and the nightmare that would ensue if complacency took precedence. There were placards embracing sentiments such as, “We Will Not Be Marginalized,” “Keep Your Laws Away from My Uterus,” and one held by a man, “GOP: Get Your Hands Off Our Women.” My personal favorite was, “Probe Banks, Not Women.”
I got onsite at around 2:00 p.m., when Rep. Carolyn Maloney (“Where are the women?”), was at the podium. She invoked the names of New York feminist forebearers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Jane Hunt before saying, “We have to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Why is half the population not in the Constitution?” Adding a mantra that would be oft-repeatedly during the afternoon, Maloney emphasized, “Remember in November!”
Stand-up comic Leighann Lord served as the “mistress” of ceremonies, and provided humorous and rousing transitions between presenters. Next up was actress Martha Plimpton. Emanating intense energy Plimpton began, “I am a United States citizen and I vote.”
She continued, “Women have always been at the forefront of progressive movements. Women can be depended on when you need bodies in the streets for women’s rights and human rights. We’ve been asleep. This hasn’t happened overnight. They want to gaslight us. All we have to do is look at their policies and we know we’re not crazy.” Mentioning the number of bills that have been passed against women’s reproductive health, Plimpton demanded, “Get loud, people!” Before her allotted two minutes were over, Plimpton underscored, “We will be engaged. We will be vigilant.” She ended on the refrain, “Who owns your body? You or the state?”