Code Pink wants activists to bring their vaginas to Tampa for the Republican convention listen07/25/12 Janelle Irwin
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A women’s peace group is asking supporters to bring their vaginas to Tampa for the Republican National Convention next month. Rae Abileah, co-director for Code Pink, said the shock factor will help get their message out.
“This is appropriate to bring our powerful, feminine energy to the convention to do something creative and humorous, but that has a very serious undertone.”
Abileah expects the group to be fairly small – less than 100 – but said a small group of women can still send a powerful message.
“We will definitely have vagina costumes. We will have a roving troupe of vaginas going to all the different events – standing outside of the big anti-choice fundraisers during the week of the convention and we’re also hoping to make a giant vagina aerial image on August 27th.”
The Code Pink call to action is in response to the silencing of a Michigan State Representative who used the word vagina on the House floor. The Tampa coordinator for Code Pink, Anita Stewart, said the Republican lawmakers were trying to pass legislation that would place harsh restrictions on abortion clinics.
“What’s hysterical about it is, how can these old white men stand up there and legislate our bodies and then these words cannot be spoken.”
Speaking against the measure in June, Michigan Representative Lisa Brown quoted a letter from a constituent that ended in “I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no’.” Michigan was one of dozens of states pushing anti-abortion legislation. Stewart said those efforts aren’t the answer citing former Democratic presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH).
“He said that if you fix the social problems. If you give people healthcare. If you give them jobs that pay a living wage. If you have affordable housing, all these social things that have suffered because we’ve been in war and we’re in a war time economy and everybody’s afraid to say that. If you fix those things, women that are pregnant and faced with choices might make a different choice.”
The vagina quip isn’t the first time Republicans have been outraged over the use of anatomical terms for women’s reproductive organs. Last year, Florida State Representative Scott Randolph, a Democrat, suggested he incorporate his wife’s uterus so lawmakers would stay out of it. It led to a new House rule – no more discussing body parts on the House floor. Stewart said the public outrage over what many saw as an over-reaction could encourage people to join Code Pink’s cause.
“Of course there was a huge, huge – women were just mad all over the state over that and I remember everybody got a pink button that said uterus on it and I remember going on Twitter and going ‘uterus, uterus, uterus’ and we did that for probably a week or two. And then there was Facebook groups and fan pages for the uterus.”
So in that same spirit, Code Pink has a Facebook page set up with a picture of a woman dressed as a vagina right dab smack on the cover. It invites women and men to participate in a pre-convention get-together where Code Pink will layout protest logistics. Stewart said that’s why details won’t be sorted out until the meeting.
“But we will be having a training on August 25th, that’s a Saturday. We’ve already selected a location. That’ll be at Sacred Grounds Coffee House on 4819 East Busch Boulevard. It’s going to start at one o’clock and probably from one to two – we haven’t really got the agenda set yet, but it will be like one to two a meet and greet.”
All of the Code Pink actions planned will carry the “Bring Your Vagina” theme, but by phone from California, Abileah said they will spread the message across the Tampa Bay area throughout the convention.
“And then there will be a march followed by a second rally closer to the Convention Center. Later that day we’ll be participating in the 3pm March for Our Lives with The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and then that night – Monday night August 27th, there’s an 11 p.m. roving, radical dance party planned.”
Code Pink organizers are working to find housing for 20-30 people who plan to come to Tampa from out of town. Many of them can’t afford hotel accommodations so Abileah is hoping to find some locals who are willing to lend their couch.
“We definitely have more out of town activists that want to come to the RNC than we have found housing for and so for folks to be able to come, we really need to find affordable accommodations if not housing with fellow activists in the area.”
Fighting what liberal and progressive activists call the “war on women” is only half of Code Pink’s mission. They also push elected officials to end all wars – including U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Stewart said the demonstrations planned for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions have nothing to do with party politics.
“The message should be pure and unadulterated. In other words, if everybody’s – I don’t know. I’m not going to bring my politics to the table when I’m sitting there with in a group with other Code Pink people from all over the United States. That’s not going to enter into it.”
Some members of Code Pink will also caravan from Tampa to Charlotte where they will hold more vagina-clad demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention.
Here's a video uploaded by Emma's Revolution a few days after we aired this story: