Report from the End Porn & Patriarchy Campaign

Standing Up for Abortion Rights—A Determined and Joyous Day! We Won't Go Back!

January 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


The End Porn & Patriarchy Campaign held actions January 20-26 in Washington, DC, and San Francisco, getting into it with people on campuses and the streets about the emergency that the right to abortion does not exist for women in most parts of the U.S.; the need to confront head-on this reality and the forces that want to take us back to the Dark Ages; and why it's important for people to understand that abortion is NOT murder, if we are to win this fight. In San Francisco a day of activities on January 26 ended with the high point of a protest of 200 people against the "Walk for Life" (a mass mobilization of anti-abortion activists from around the country). The following is correspondence written by a core activist in the End Porn & Patriarchy Campaign in SF.

Do Not Settle for Celebration: Slicing Through the Smug Satisfaction of Those Who Would Turn Their Backs on Women Everywhere

from Alex Petersburg

Stop Patriarchy! Bay Area started our day on Saturday, January 26, at the Trust Women / Silver Ribbon Campaign’s ”Celebration of Women, Life, and Liberty,” a decisively non-confrontational commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

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Most of the coverage here is from Plans, Reports, and Photos Straight from the Week of Action for Abortion Rights from Washington, DC, and San Francisco at (in the “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution” section). is a dynamic hub for correspondence, analysis, guidance, struggle, engagement, photos, audio, and video, in more or less real time. It provides people with a living feel for the movement for revolution, emerging on the critical front of fighting for the right to abortion and for ending patriarchy and the oppression of women all over the world. And it connects that with the whole movement for revolution. These reports illustrate how a small but critical mass of determined people broke into the mainstream media and discourse in the U.S. and around the world, cutting through the deadly terms of things with liberating truth. This gives a living sense that things do not have to be this way!

Come back to for full coverage of the week of action in DC and SF, including:

Our purpose was to call on every single person at that celebration to join us in directly CONFRONTING and RESISTING the thousands of anti-abortion activists—not even two miles away—who were mobilizing at that very moment to A) march against the basic right of women to have abortions, and B) rally people together under their patriarchal political agenda to overturn Roe v. Wade

The first thing we did was talk to one of the speakers and organizers of the celebration who had shown some degree of support for what we were doing, and tell her that we would like to speak & announce the counterprotest.  She said she would go back to the other organizers and ask if that would be possible.  We knew that some of the scheduled speakers for the event had not shown up, there was actually open time that we could use, so any pretense from Trust Women about not having enough time would be bullshit.  Our advocate came back and told us the answer was a resounding “NO.”  We pushed back, and told her it didn’t make sense that they would not let us speak, unless they actually had a problem with the content of what we were going to say.  She confirmed that they definitely did have a problem with the content, and that no one had planned on even MENTIONING the FASCIST, NAZI-LIKE MARCH FOR ENSLAVEMENT that was about to burst forth onto Market Street not hours from that moment in time, much less an opportunity to challenge and protest it.

We went to another speaker to tell her what had happened, and she agreed that our message was important and should be heard.  She offered to give us half of her time, in a spirit of:  If they won’t let you speak, we won’t tell them.  We’ll just do it.

Before and throughout the event, we went through the crowd to make our argument. We quickly realized but at that point were not surprised, that many people there did not even know that the Walk for “Life” was happening that day!  Some were ready to join us in counter-protest once they had the facts, and others took a struggle to see the importance of not letting the day end without opposing them.  We were prepared to hear what we heard: it will just give legitimacy to the anti-abortion march to confront them, what good is it to get into a “screaming match,” and so on and so forth.  We stood our ground and were able to win over a handful of people to see that the truth MUST be told about abortion and the war on women, loudly and boldly, and projected far and wide, in sharp contrast with the whole anti-abortion movement.  We must RESIST if we ever want to see a cultural shift and ultimately an end to the stranglehold on abortion rights that has already locked so many women up (in some cases literally, such as women imprisoned for child endangerment for things they did when they were 4 months pregnant) and OUT of the possibility of living their lives the way they want to. 

The scheduled “One Billion Rising” dance performance happened about half an hour before the permit for the event expired.  I think it went longer than many organizers expected, and there was some anxiety that the last speakers would not be heard.  Sure enough, the mic was snatched out of the hands of one of the speakers, and organizers quickly started dismantling the sound equipment, claiming (truthfully, I think) that the sound equipment could be confiscated if they overstayed their permit.

I broke into a sprint to the other side of the plaza to the Stop Patriarchy! banners that were meant to be the rallying point to lead people to the counter-protest.  Another person working on Stop Patriarchy had already started calling out, “Don’t go home!  Join us to confront the anti-abortion movement!  Do not settle for celebration!”  Three of us lined up at the top of the steps under our banners, and the whole audience shifted, turning their attention from the main stage to the new stage we had made for ourselves and our message.  I said exactly what I was going to say if they had let us speak, and the audience heard loud and clear:

Abortion is more stigmatized, more dangerous to provide, and more difficult to access than any time in the last 40 years!  Now is not the time to celebrate!  Now is not the time to sit in smug satisfaction about how far we’ve come!  Don’t go home!  RIGHT NOW, THOUSANDS of  anti-abortion activists are getting ready to march down Market Street!  Let’s go puncture the atmosphere of lies with the TRUTH!  Fetuses are NOT babies, women are NOT incubators, and abortion is NOT murder!  Abortion is NOT a tragedy!  The REAL tragedy will be if the story tomorrow goes: Saturday, the woman-hating fascists RAN THE STREETS of San Francisco and NOBODY OPPOSED them!  There is a RIGHT SIDE to be on in this battle!  MY GENERATION has grown up NEVER HEARING abortion spoken of as a positive and moral choice!  TOGETHER we can CHANGE the conversation!  TOGETHER we can give them something to talk about!  That the fascists hit the streets and CLASHED with the TRUTH!  But THAT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN WITHOUT A FIGHT!  Abortion on demand & without apology!  Defeat the war on women!

…and about twenty people took off marching through the crowd, chanting, “Without this basic right, women can’t be free!  Abortion on demand and without apology!” with our bright orange signs, our giant banners, and all the determination and righteous anger that Stop Patriarchy! taps into and unleashes.  Sure enough, over 60 people marched out of that celebration, their heads held high, ready to change the terms of this debate society-wide! 

Many of those who left with us to meet our other forces coming from the Stop Patriarchy! rally were women from the generation that fought for Roe v. Wade.  They were moved by and really understood how this current generation of women have been lied to about abortion, and showed a loving ferocity throughout the rest of the day: loving us, loving women, and loving the opportunity to really fight for what’s right.  Fierce and raging at the movement that is trying and succeeding in taking us back to the dark ages and open & institutionalized female enslavement.  Enraged at the Trust Women / Silver Ribbon Campaign for witholding the real story from them, that this anti-abortion march was happening, and there was a group that was leading a counter-protest to fearlessly and righteously take it on.

When our forces joined at Powell & Market and the antis marched by, over 200 people—from medical workers to college students to people who live on the streets, women who have been prostituted, abused, and/or stigmatized for having abortions, men who have long been sick to death of this disgusting male culture, both activists and young people who have never protested anything before, people of all races and classes and walks of life, this new force that had united that day on the RIGHT BASIS—SHOUTED DOWN that woman-hating march, CALLED THEM OUT as liars and patriarchs, with chants that struck right to the truth, with ONE uncompromising and resounding message: STOP PATRIARCHY!

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