Last weekend, the Revolution Club in Los Angeles took theT-shirts “Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement” and “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology,” out to the West Hollywood LGBTQ Pride events to have an impact, fundraise for the National Tour to Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution, and draw new people to finding out about the revolution and the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian.
Over three days we raised $1,383 and got out 55 T-shirts. We also distributed some green bandannas and raised money for Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights which we gave to the local chapter. We passed out copies of the Bob Avakian (BA) article "The Crucial Fight for Abortion Rights and Ending All Oppression: Broad Unity and Necessary Struggle" with an invitation to a Zoom discussion, and copies of the Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights flyer announcing the protest at the Summit of the Americas. We also got out some of the BA article "The Supreme Court Moves to End Abortion Rights: 'Taking to the Streets,' And Refusing to Let This Go Down: Bob Avakian Speaks to This Critical Juncture in the Fight for Abortion Rights, The Road Forward, and Avoiding Dead Ends."
This project was a result of people in the local Revolution Club working together in new ways and taking new responsibility to forge and carry out plans. When we first got to West Hollywood, there was a struggle right away over how to approach it. Two people who were newly taking responsibility felt that since we were at a celebration, we shouldn’t be attempting to struggle with people over what’s happening and what needs to be done about it. They thought this would be like a rain cloud over people having a good time. The question was posed back to them: What is it we are trying to do here? They worked through collectively how we are raising money for the Tour and getting people to engage the message on the T-shirt. For one person in particular it clicked that when people engage that message, “forced motherhood is female enslavement,” that in itself will open up struggle—of whether this is true and what people are going to do about it. This person got very unleashed to approach people with the T-shirt, telling them we need to be in the streets and we need a revolution and pointing people to the article from BA. The questions bound up with the whole approach of “necessary struggle,” as BA puts it in his recent article, weren’t all resolved there, and other contradictions that came up weren’t all handled as well, but there was a good process that began.
What was most striking was the visceral response we got. Far from a rain cloud, while people were celebrating, they also were unsettled and many expressed that talking to us was both sobering and giving them hope. Just wearing the T-shirt with the slogan visible, “forced motherhood is female enslavement” and walking down the street past the bars, repeatedly people would burst out in applause or call out to say they love the shirt. We drew women and men and differently gendered people who were angry and upset and afraid and demoralized. People were upset about what is being done to women now, with many of different genders saying they are furious because nobody should be able to tell women what to do with their bodies or force them to be mothers. People were also seeing this attack on women as very connected to the attack on LGBTQ rights. And some were talking about the mass shootings in the same breath.
A woman saw the shirt and at first paused on the word “enslavement,” not sure if she was comfortable with calling this enslavement. After thinking a moment, she decided this was right and got two shirts, for her and her partner. Others talked about how their own marriages will be criminalized next. A male couple said after they take away abortion rights, they will be coming to shoot us in the streets. A Black man passing by saw the shirt and the sign that said donate and said, metaphorically, “burn it down!” and stopped quickly to scan and give a $25 donation. On his online donation he commented, “Fuck the Republicans!” A Spanish-speaking trans woman didn’t know what was happening with the attack on abortion and when she heard about it, she at first said, “It’s not up to me to say anything about this, I’m not biologically a woman.” When we told her all people need to stand up for the rights of women to decide for themselves, she agreed and made a donation.
The main sentiment from people who were really angry and upset was a feeling of helplessness. Almost everyone said the only thing we can do is vote. Some people said this with a sense of frustration and resignation. A few argued for it with more conviction. But overall, people were very open to these ideas being challenged when we said voting is not the answer to this and instead, we need the disruptive power of people in the streets right now, to make the court and those in power have to worry about the legitimacy of their institutions.
In one conversation, two men from North Carolina talked about how they were voting and trying to get better people in office locally. We told them 1) the Supreme Court decision is not a done deal and we have to fight it now and not give up our rights and think we can get them back later, and 2) we drew from BA's "Taking to the Streets" article and pointed out that the Democrats have been capitulating to the Republican fascists on abortion for decades, and we can’t rely on them, we have to act ourselves. They really appreciated what we were saying about this and donated online.
One woman, maybe in her 60s, after seeing the shirt and hearing just a sentence from us about it, said behind her dark sunglasses, “I’m crying right now.” When we talked to her about acting outside the bounds of voting and how the high school students have already started to do this, walking out of their schools across the country, she was getting inspired and said hearing this was giving her goose bumps.
We told everyone we are raising money for the National Tour to Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution, and we drew from the end of the BA article where he says we need to fight this crucial battle now to stop the Supreme Court ripping away the right to abortion and fight to put an end to the whole system at the source of this. People took the article to read and some got connected on the spot.