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August 29, 2012 / Man in the Mirror

Contra Costa Times: Activists call for women’s rights during Hollywood march


Posted:   08/26/2012 06:35:02 PM PDT
Updated:   08/26/2012 06:37:07 PM PDT

A national women’s group marches along Hollywood Boulevard on Aug. 26, 2012, the 92nd anniversary of Congress ratifying women’s right to vote. (Gene Blevins/L.A. Daily News)

Angry with what they see as a renewed assault on reproductive rights waged against them, hundreds of women and their male supporters held a rally and march in Hollywood on Sunday to warn Republican and Democratic politicians alike that a new movement for equal rights has begun.

Hollywood Boulevard was shut down for blocks between Highland Avenue to Vine Street as women of all ages held protest signs and came together to demand equal pay, reproductive rights, and justice against perpetrators of violence.

“Women’s rights are under attack! What do we do? Stand up! Fight back!” the women shouted together.

The event was coordinated by Women Organized to Resist and Defend or WORD, a new nationwide, grassroots organization.

Marchers marked the 92nd anniversary of Congress ratifying women’s right to vote on Aug. 26, 2012 in Hollywood. (Gene Blevins/LA Daily News)

Similar rallies and marches were held in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and other cities on Sunday — exactly 92 years after the passage of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The event also was held deliberately before both the Republican and Democratic national conventions.

“Women are fed up with vile attacks of the right wing and politicians who play political football with our rights,” Danielle Norwood, a member of WORD and organizer, told the crowd. “We are taking to the streets as our foremothers did before us, to fight for equality and the fundamental control of our bodies and our lives.”

Norwood and others said a rally to support women’s rights has been long overdue.

“We’re saying it’s time to be out here, because our rights have been used as bargaining chips,” she said.

The proof, she said, is in how the Democrats handled Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s comments when he said recently that when a woman is a victim of “legitimate rape,” her body has means of preventing pregnancy. Instead of calling for him to step down, Democrats encouraged Akins to stay in the race, so it would hurt GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s chances during the election.

If President Barack Obama believes he has the women’s vote, the gay vote, or even support among Latinos after he changed immigration policy to allow young undocumented people to apply to stay in the country legally, he is mistaken, many at the rally said.

Many said Obama has pandered to those communities simply for votes. They said he has compromised with the anti-abortion side and that under the president, funding for women’s reproductive health services have been slashed at the state level. Legal restrictions on abortions tripled from 2010 to 2011.

“We need to keep fighting. It’s our responsibility,” said Jaqueline Villagomez, 53, of Studio City. “It doesn’t matter who is president. The president won’t fight for us. We need to fight for ourselves. They need to hear women’s voices in the streets.”

Tina Kelly, 40, said Obama may think he has appeased the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community when he said recently he supported gay marriage.

“People are accepting the little cookie he threw at us,” she said. “We want to be acknowledged that we’re here and we have a right to marry, whether you call it marriage or something else, it’s the equality we’re after.”

Men who joined in the rally said they were disappointed that women’s rights have fallen so far behind. Travis Wilkerson, 43, said he teaches film studies at Pomona College and even in the arts, women have fallen on the sideline. In a recent survey in Sight and Sound magazine, only one

Officers used bicycles as they monitored the crowd during the Aug. 26, 2012 women’s-rights march in Hollywood.(Gene Blevins/LA Daily News)

of the 50 top films made was directed by a woman.

“I was born into a family with a mom who was a fighter for women’s rights,” said Wilkerson. His mom had to sue a Colorado university to let her into medical school. She became the first woman medical student at the university.

“Already, women are treated so unequally and men know it,” Wilkerson said. “My daughter is going to have to go through all the challenges.

I worry what she may be up against. That’s why I’m here.”

Tom Gillespie, 79, of La Mirada said he came to the rally because he doesn’t want his granddaughters to face inequality, especially after women of past generations worked so hard to achieve equality. He said women have been too quiet for too long.

“It’s changed a lot in my lifetime,” he said, of women’s rights. “We seemed to have gone backwards. I’d like to see a million-woman march.” 

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