Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hanging out in downtown Manhattan, supporting women's rights

I'm normally not very political with this blog (recent Bahrain post excluded), but bear with me here. Today I attended my very first protest, and I am awash with the kind of crazy, self-righteous, angry energy that I assume one only gets from standing in the cold for three hours chanting things like "Political Defiance! Political Defiance!" and "No We Won't! No We Won't! (in response to whether we were going to take this outrage lying down)"

To keep it brief, the House of Representatives (click here to see if your Rep was a party to this...) recently passed a bill which denies all federal funding to the nonprofit organization Planned Parenthood. A bill which would, effectively, bankrupt it. If this bill also passes in the Senate and is signed off on by President Obama, millions of women will no longer have access to affordable health care services like screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer, and HPV; STD testing; sex and family planning education; prenatal care; and contraception. 

The reasoning behind those in support of this bill is: Because [in addition to ALL of these important, life-sustaining services Planned Parenthood offers women] PP provides abortion services, they should not receive government funding. Abortion is a hot-button issue and I don't want to get into the messy debate usually associated with that, but I will say this: If Planned Parenthood is forced to close because of this bill, millions of American women will no longer be able to afford reproductive health care. This will mean more teenage pregnancies; the spread of STDs, cervical cancer, and breast cancer; and a country with a culture that blatantly disregards women's interests. Not good things.

OK. End rant. Now, more on the actual event.

So, the protest rally itself was kind of awesome. There were all of those things one expects to see at a protest: picket signs, stickers & buttons, important people speaking at a podium, musicians singing while strumming acoustic guitars, and a general orgy of facial piercings and other forms of body art. There were also things I didn't know belonged in a protest setting: mothers with strollers, women in their 70s and 80s pushing forward to get to the front of the action, guys without their girlfriends (i.e., there of their own volition), and a miniature poodle I silently nominated as our mascot and dubbed "Protest Puppy." Please leave any better suggestions for this brave pup in the comments below!

All in all, I'm very glad I made it out. This protest thing was one of many new experiences I've had in the city, and was definitely a more exciting way to spend my Saturday afternoon than fumbling around with laundry or going out for groceries or any number of mundane things I usually end up taking care of on my weekends...

See pics below from the rally. And thanks for humoring me this one uncharacteristically semi-serious post!

Just a bunch of angry people with signs, move along now, nothing to see here--

                                                                  Protest Puppy!

This sign is a response to this highly controversial anti-abortion ad campaign.

Later, when the sun started to set and it got colder, some resourceful protesters moved to the sunny steps!

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