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Okay: here’s the post (past the update).

This morning I’m headed to San Antonio for their 22nd Annual Women’s Day March and Rally. Should be exciting! I’ll write more later and post pics, so tune back in. Thanks! Celebrate women!

Update: Got back home and my son woke up from at the end of the drive with a fever. We put a cold washcloth on his forehead, ran out for Tylenol, played a bit, and now he’s doing better and just went to bed. About to eat dinner and then work on the post. Still processing the day. It was interesting and I have a lot to say and some pics too- so please tune back in in a couple of hours- around 11:00 EST. Thanks!

Today, March 3rd, 2012, San Antonio had it’s 22nd Annual Women’s Day March and Rally. I live in Austin (moved here in August 2011- so still new to the area) and haven’t seen anything similar advertised here, so my partner, our one and a half year old son, and I headed down to S.A. We arrived about 9:45 a,m. for the march that was to begin at 10:00 by the Grand Hyatt at Market and Bowie and to head to the Plaza del Zacate or Milam Park.

It took an hour or so for the march to get going, so we waited around in the crazy wind talking to people. My partner and I had talked about him possibly meeting the baby and I at the end of the march for the rally because I wasn’t sure if men were going to walk with the women. I’ve been a part of marches in the past when men have been included and others when they have not. Today they were with us. Sometimes we need to march alone, but I do believe men must be a part of the fight against the War On Women and must fight in the War on Patriarchy. As for my partner, he’s an awesome ally and it was nice to have him there.

Looking around, my first thought was, ‘There are a lot of different groups here.’

I noticed what I thought was a Clothesline Project– with T-shirts speaking out about sexual violence, rape, incest. I made one of those t-shirts once. Empowering, moving, awful, amazing. A million words to describe it. This was not that. This was t-shirts hung on a line speaking out about the Hyatt. Not what I expected. Hmm.

I got lots of fliers. (I’m going to list them to then make a point in the end, but if you want to skim the fliers I got, please get beyond the list to my point). The ones I got were:

Don’t mess with Texas Women– about women’s health care and to rally against the states continued attacks on women’s healthcare, though there are two websites listed and the one highlighted in red is connected to a campaign to stop littering in Texas, but the other was linked to the Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas.

End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women.” It talks about: abortion, birth control, real sex education, Christian fundamentalists, LGBT issues and Roe v. Wade. I looked into it further and the site, Stop Patriarchy was started by Sunsara Taylor who is known for her passion around human rights issues.

I also got another flier advertising a march on Sat March 10th in San Antonio for Stop Patriarchy.

Code Pink– it’s a women’s organization who is anti- war.

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day March 10th– This was a flier for HIV testing and San Antonio events for Friday and Saturday March 9th and 10th- the National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. By the way: Rock the Red Pump  is working to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and I will be blogging about HIV and AIDS and women as will many other bloggers this next Friday 3/9. See more at www.redpump.org and of course tune in next Friday.

Dansa– Direct Action Network of San Antonio- for marriage equality and against the Hyatt for mistreating their employees

Ay, Que Chula! Youth Leadership Organization Fundraiser- “Outer Beauty Attracts, But Inner Beauty Captivates”- Photo finish, Hair sculpting, and nail art for youth $20.- put on by the Southwest Workers Union

Domestic Workers in Action of San Antonio

Revolution newspaper from the Communist Party

Texas Death Penalty Fact Sheet

Texas Coalition To Abolish The Death Penalty

Unite To Smash Sexism about exploitation of women workers and destroying capitalism.

Westside Dog Initiative– about alleviating the Stray animal overpopulation.

and

Hyatt Hurts Women’s Bodies– about corporate injustices toward women workers, injustices committed by the Hyatt

After the waiting, there was a prayer/ blessing done by an indigenous group. Then there was some talk about women’s rights and about the Hyatt and how they have mistreated their workers, especially women workers and a bit to sum up and then we began to march. These are some of the chants from the flier that were to be used during the march:

“We support labor’s fights for collective bargaining rights!”

“Que queremos? Fair wages! Cuando? Ahora.”       When this chant began, it was “What do we want?” And at first no one knew what to answer, so people answered several different things and ended up with, “Justice.” When do we want it? Now.

Yes, we do want justice, I just wasn’t sure at that point that we were all on the same page about what we are marching for and that is where I’m going with this.

“Down with corporate welfare. Up with national healthcare.”

Absolutely, but this is about women’s healthcare. At least it is for me. It has to be- the healthcare system in our nation is flawed at best, but women’s healthcare is under full attack. Women’s healthcare is a huge issue right now! Make it about that! Please! Uh oh. I was getting that anxious feeling in my stomach when I’m like, this is not what I thought and this is not what I want and Oh shit, there’s something big here that we’re missing.

“Hey Hyatt, you’re no good. Treat your workers like you should.” The Hyatt was right next to us, so we practically began with this chant.

I looked at my partner and said, “I’m here in San Antonio to protest the Hyatt, I mean to march for women. Wait, what am I here for?” He shook his head. “This should be about women’s rights.”

Yeah. Exactly.

The march was stopped in front of the Hyatt yelling at the building and the tourists. One of the women I was walking with said something to the effect of: ‘I’m here to march for women’s rights, not to protest the Hyatt. There’s a lot of other things going on around women, it’s a bigger issues, this isn’t why I’m here.’

Me neither.

The Hyatt may be treating women badly, but this is a symptom of a larger problem, one that reachers much farther than the Hyatt.

I met some awesome women from San Antonio and was excited to be there with the two to three hundred women that were there. But, I believe the issues were scattered and we have to pull it together to fight the system that oppresses us.

There was such a plethora of issues- many of them “women’s issues.” It shouldn’t be incredible to me how many there were, but it was, it is incredible. You saw how many fliers I got and how many organizations were there. All of them important organizations with important causes and all of them looking for more support.

This is it: women are concerned with a lot of different things. I am concerned and want to support all of those different things. Why? The world has a lot of issues that I am concerned about- sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin.

The issues I saw present at the march and rally:

abortion, contraception, labor rights, HIV and AIDS, war, pornography, patriarchy, enslavement of women, sex education, death penalty, unemployment, fair wages, issues with behavior of big corporations (the Hyatt being the example), women’s healthcare, the 99%, communism, who to vote for (there were two candidates present- Tina Torres (who I met and talked with and was really nice and down to earth), and a representative for Michele Petty was also present, though I did not see Ms. Petty), femicide in Juarez.

That’s a lot to address.

My concern was not the Hyatt. There are corporations all over America who are treating people badly. That’s a huge issue, but it is a symptom of Capitalism and of Patriarchy. International Women’s Day has a herstory of being about the fight for women’s labor rights (like back in 1908- but even in 1911 women were fighting for multiple issues that were not just about labor). The day has evolved into something more. I think we can address the individual issues, but as a group of people gathering to march for International Women’s Day, I believe we need to focus the issues toward women’s rights, not just labor rights.

These are the deeper issues:

Instead of yelling about how the Hyatt should treat its workers better, we need to encourage people to join the fight for women’s rights. We need to encourage women and men to stand with us. By yelling about the Hyatt, women’s rights are narrowed down to people not liking the Hyatt Hotel. This is much larger and people who work at the Hyatt and who stay there aren’t going to be able to change much of this, they are going to think, crazy feminists. I’m here to say: We have to dial down the crazy! We have to say, “you’re a woman, come join us” or “you have a mother, come join us. Fight for women!”

We must rally together to encourage the respect of women across the board. This means getting as many people on board to fight for women’s equality and rights to self, not isolating onlookers and making them want to distance themselves from the group.

When women are respected, Hyatt workers, domestic workers, women of all professions will be paid adequately, be given health coverage and maternity leave, not sexually harrassed, and will be treated well for the work we do.

San Antonio News 4 pulled me out of the crowd and interviewed me briefly about why I was there at the march. Who knows what they’ll air, if anything- haven’t been able to find it, but if they do, hopefully what I said won’t be out of context. In case this blog never sees it, let me tell you why I went.

I went to the march and rally because I am concerned about the state of women’s rights in this nation and about the gap of equality with men widening rather than closing. The more rights women lose, the more violence is perpetrated upon us. Why? Because we are seen as second class people. We are seen as ‘less than.’ As ‘not worthy,’ as ‘not as good as men.’ Patriarchy demands that we are second to men. Men benefit from that privilege. Meanwhile women have less and less say about our lives, our bodies and what we want in this world and in society. We have less opportunities and less access. And we are treated badly across the board (and in jobs like at the Hyatt or wherever). Women are in danger.

I went to the march to seek solidarity around how wonderful women are, how diverse we are (culturally, racially, socio-economically, sexuality, ability….) and how we can come together to fight and raise awareness about inequality based on gender. In a way, I got that, but not how I expected.

What I fear is this: as women, we have so many issues that are important for us and it’s easy to lose focus.

There were somewhere from two to three hundred women at the march and rally, all there for women’s rights, but divided up into a bunch of different issues. We need to focus our efforts and understand that these issues will all be addressed when women are respected and valued. Even the stray dog- Westside Dog Initiative- even animals will be valued more when women are valued because it is about changing a system that promotes ‘Power of some over others.’

So, ‘Come on Women,’ let’s focus, because really, what I saw was a great group of women and men who are concerned with how things are going and taking it in a bunch of different directions. It’s like that saying- a person who stands for everything stands for nothing.

We must stand for us because Patriarchy wants to make us not be able to stand at all.

Grrl Code: In a women’s march, women should be on the megaphones, not men. Men we need you as allies and to the women who led and the ones who stepped up, YES! And to all the people who came out- PROPS! Si se puede! Las mujeres jamas seran vencidas!

We must unite to fight this battle. It is about all these causes, but it is about women, women’s rights, and we must make sure we don’t lose that focus!

P.S.- One More Thing- Suzy Gonzalez!

Suzy Gonzalez, feminist artist and writer. She painted the painting that was on the T-shirt. Awesome!

This pic is of feminist artist, Suzy Gonzalez. She painted the painting (self portrait) of the image used for the T-shirts for the march/rally today. She is wearing one of the t-shirts, but check it out on the website for the march because it’s beautiful. She named it “Second” because women are often put second because of our bodies. She spoke at the rally and was very articulate about her art and issues around the oppression of women. I will wear the shirt with the image of her painting proudly. Thank you Suzy!

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In Solidarity!

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