Revolution #263, March 25, 2012

International Women’s Day 2012:
Fierce, Bold, Rude, and Unapologetic

Times Square NYC
Times Square, New York City
Photo: Special to Revolution
People flipping off Hustler in Los Angeles
People flipping off Hustler in Los Angeles
Photo: Special to Revolution
Photo: Alex Garland
Photo: Special to Revolution
NYC Revolution Newspaper
New York City
Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

International Women’s Day—In New York and in other cities from Los Angeles. to Houston to Cleveland, people marched to end the war on women, to end pornography and patriarchy. The protests were something NEW—they were fierce, bold, rude, and unapologetic. Participants were all ages, all genders, many nationalities and included Occupiers, readers of Revolution newspaper, revolutionary communists, people from the projects and community organizers, high school and college students, and older women (and men) who had been part of or influenced by the women’s movement and other radical and revolutionary movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

In different cities the marches visited and supported health centers and clinics that provide abortion and birth control; protested at Christian fundamentalist churches and Catholic archdioceses; poured out rage at porn shops and strip clubs. Yellow crime-scene tape stretched across centers of abuse and degradation. After the marches in several cities, people sat down to eat and talk over what lies behind this war on women and what lies ahead to stop it.

People drew courage from standing up together and spoke bitterness about the real-life brutal experience of patriarchy and pornography. In NYC the march began outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral and grew in size to 65 people. The march made many stops: Times Square, Fox News, the military recruiting center, a strip club, and then a porn shop. Street theater portrayed how the church and the pornographer both steal women’s humanity and turn them into things to be used—objects for men, and incubators.

A Harvard student joined the march, telling a Revolution reporter of how he and his girlfriend had to figure out on their own and in secret how she would get an abortion at 16, because their parents were religious fundamentalists. Outside a porn shop, an older woman recounted the horror of a young woman who committed suicide after having been brutally gang-raped. A woman in her 20s took a stand against pornography and made the connections with the attacks on abortion, defiantly declaring “I AM NOT AN INCUBATOR!” A young man spoke about the prevalence of pornography within military culture, and how being exposed to pornography at the age of 10 “turns a little boy’s natural curiosity into something perverted.” A woman, describing herself as from an urban community, unleashed anger and spoke viscerally and personally about how, throughout her life, from family history to riding the subway train each day, “I wear many different hats and it’s a shame that I feel that as a woman of color I’m already being reduced down in society because society sees me as a fucking bitch trick or whore.”

People who encountered the protests were shocked and challenged—some welcomed what they learned, others did not want to know or wanted to defend porn and women’s subordinate position in the world. In L.A., a car stopped, a woman rolled down her window and said, “I’ve been making porn for 28 years—fuck you.” Ten minutes earlier, a driver in a Rolls Royce had stopped, rolled down his window, and handed a protester a $20 bill.

Organizers reached out to challenge young people in particular. In one city, a young man walked up to the images on the ground of women’s bodies with footprints labeled with the abuses of women, and wrote “I love ho’s.” And when demonstrators challenged the hundreds of youth crowded around waiting for a bus, some were dismissive but several young women joined the rally and carried a placard, “Stop Pornography and Patriarchy.” A Black female high school student, holding up the flier for the march, called out, “Yeah, porn fuels rape!”

One middle-aged woman, who came to the L.A. march after hearing Sunsara Taylor speak on Michael Slate’s radio show on KPFK the day before, said, “I’m here because I recently discovered that the feminist movement is being eroded by all kinds of different things in this world; pornography, religion, government. It’s like waking up after 20 years thinking that women had made all of these advances and now I find out it’s slowly coming out from beneath our feet. ... I thought [porn] was dying, on the way out. And then [Sunsara] talked about when she took these women who felt the same way I felt into a porn shop, and showed them the wall of torture, and my jaw dropped. I was like oh, my god. It’s not about sex any more, it’s about torture. And men are getting off on it.”

At the conclusion of the NYC march, Sunsara Taylor led the participants in making a pledge, described on her blog ( about the day: “Together we made a promise, to ourselves, to the faces around us, to the women throughout the country, and to the women throughout the world, that we will not stop until never again is a woman demeaned, degraded, enslaved, disrespected, spit upon, set on fire, beaten, raped, humiliated, mocked, tortured, stalked, devalued, or dismissed simply because she is born female. As people made this promise together, as we all looked in each others’ faces as we did, the change in all of us was palpable. People felt alive with fury and lifted up with joy.”

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