Turning the Tide: A Letter from the Editor
Making History: The March for Women’s Lives Krista Jacob
My 7-month-old son and I just returned from the March for Women’s Lives where we joined over a million pro-choice Americans to march for reproductive choice and reproductive healthcare.
Waiting for my connecting flight to Ronald Regan Airport (such sweet irony), I was surrounded by pro-choice signs, shirts, and buttons. A pregnant woman wore a t-shirt that said “Choice Baby,” a man wore a button that read “Another Pro-Choice Man,” a group of college students carried hangers, a symbolic reminder of the days before legal abortion when many used wire hangers to terminate their unwanted pregnancies. It seemed as if everywhere I looked I saw a pro-choice message, and it made me long for a world in which people were more vocal about their pro-choice beliefs. It also reminded me that I am not alone in the fight for choice, but rather that I am part of a majority group, over a million of whom felt passionately enough about this issue to leave their everyday lives and march in our nation’s capitol.
Pushing my stroller through the streets of D.C. I was only one of tens of thousands of families participating in the march. I met college students who had piled into buses and slept on floors of churches and community centers to cut costs. I met individuals, couples and families who had come from as far as Los Angeles, Portland, Miami and Juneau. I briefly spoke with an older couple, possibly in their early eighties, who had come from Seattle “to help make this world better before (they) leave it.” Meeting the people I did renewed the hope I’ve lost since George W. Bush took office.
The most notable aspect of this march was the degree of diversity represented, especially considering that our movement has been criticized for having a white, middle class bias. Marchers spanned races, economic classes, ages, and sexual orientations. It seemed as if the entire political spectrum was represented, from pro-choice religious groups to republicans for choice (don’t ask) to pro-choice artist collectives (selling t-shirts that said, “Stop Bitching. Start a Revolution!”).
Marchers chanted Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries; Pro-Life Your Name’s A Lie, You Don’t Care If Women Die; and My Body, My Choice. The most common political slogans were: Pro-Child Pro-Choice Against Abortion?
Then Don’t Have One
I’m Pro-Choice and I Pray
George Bush, There’s No Oil in My Uterus
Bush, Stay Out of Mine
One man carried a sign that said “Impregnate Jerry Falwell,” to which I challenged, “Do we really want him to pro-create?”
“But he wouldn’t have the baby,” he responded. “He’d have an abortion because he’s a lying hypocrite.” I couldn’t argue with that one.
The anti-authority, anti-establishment tactics of the (primarily) younger generations blended with the work-within-the-establishment strategies of the older generations to create a passionate, decidedly pro-choice message about reproductive choice, family planning, medical research and privacy.
No pro-choice event would be complete, however, without the anti-choice “crazed and saved” protestors (mainly concentrated on a short block of Pennsylvania Ave) extolling the virtues of coerced pregnancy, forced motherhood, and the “sanctity” of life/children—children, incidentally, that they dragged to this event and forced to carry giant posters of dismembered, bloodied fetuses. My more compassionate side hopes their anti-choice work brings in a healthy income because their children are going to need a butt-load of therapy. If life is indeed as precious and fragile as they argue, it makes me wonder why they exploit their own children in this way.
But the anti-choice groups’ impact was as small as their minds. On April 25, 2004, we made history and proved to the conservative, anti-feminist naysayers that our movement is as alive and relevant as ever. Indeed, the political tide against reproductive freedom has turned. Our current challenge is to harness this energy and carry our pro-choice message(s) into the next election and beyond.
Krista Jacob, Editor and Founder
Sexing the Political
Krista Jacob, MS, is editor-in-chief and founder of Sexing the Political: A journal of third wave feminists on sexuality. She has a long history of involvement in women’s issues, including domestic violence, sexual assault, reproductive freedom, and women’s health and sexuality. She presents at state and national conferences on issues related to violence against women, third wave feminism, motherhood, images of women in the media, abortion, and adolescent women's issues. At present, she is a writer and lecturer.
Ms. Jacob’s written work has appeared in Just Sex: Students Rewrite the Rules on Sex, Violence, Activism, and Equality, (Rowman & Littlefield), The Minnesota Women's Press, and numerous feminist journals. She is the editor of Our Choices, Our Lives: Unapologetic Writings on Abortion.
Recently, Ms. Jacob was given the Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Alumni from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
If you would like to inquire about bringing Ms. Jacob to speak in your community or to set up an interview, please contact sexingthepolitical.