Report from the Van’s Warped Tour in Atlanta

August 4, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


The campaign to End Pornography and Patriarchy hit the Van’s Warped Tour today in Atlanta. We set up in the (fairly empty) volunteer tent next to the Warped Tour’s recycling initiative and a guy asking people to write postcards to the troops…we intended to create a presence that couldn’t be ignored—that wasn’t very hard to do. We decorated the tent with the bright red Stop Patriarchy stop signs and a large orange banner in the middle emblazoned with: ABORTION ON DEMAND AND WITHOUT APOLOGY!

During the seven hours we spent behind the table, there was a constant flow of people, both young men and women gathered around the table, steadily picking up flyers, buying buttons and stickers, as well as sharing questions and conversation—conversations and questions that they never get to share. Youth from around Georgia and many other from Tennessee and Alabama stopped by the table. Reactions to the material varied but everyone noticed.

Early in the day, a young woman ran over to the table, “Where do I sign up,” she asked without hesitation. Several other people commented, “You all have the best table out here.” We definitely created a climate where people knew something was going on, even if they weren’t certain what it was all about, they were drawn to check it out. Many people felt emboldened to speak openly and share their thoughts and experiences. Two young women stopped by the table and as the conversation deepened, someone asked if either of them had ever known anyone who was a victim of rape. They both nodded, “Yeah…” pointing at one another, “both of us.” Two young men from Tennessee walked up and immediately asked, “What do we do?” Both of them recounted knowing girls who were either raped or sexually assaulted while they were in middle school. One of the guys said, “I don’t know about all the politics…I mean I try to avoid all that, but I want to do something about this…My friend was raped and I knew the guy who did it—I wanted to kill him—but you’re right…the culture promotes this stuff. I think you guys are going about this the right way. I want to help.”


Next to the tent, we laid out a large sheet of paper that said, “I Stand for abortion rights because…” We encouraged people to write a message on the banner (you can read some of them in the pictures). Many people wrote a message and many more people stopped to read messages written by others. Occasionally, some anti-choicer (usually a guy) would sneakily write a message on the banner, but almost immediately another person would pick up the marker and respond (sometimes with a “FUCK YOU!”). The banner itself became a place for expression, debate and controversy, which is unusual even at a “punk rock” festival like Warped Tour.

Overall, it was a powerful day. We reached many people and left with around 80 contacts, which included several people interested in joining a contingent traveling from Atlanta to Jackson, Mississippi to join the Abortion Freedom Ride. As we packed up, one of the Warped Tour organizers commented, “WOW! You all were busy today.” Despite all the bullshit patriarchy that predominates a lot of the culture (including the music of many of the bands at Warped Tour), many young people recognize and are disturbed by the degradation and oppression faced by women—many are the victims of it. One thing is for sure—this movement is needed right NOW!


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