The first big march on the RNC was held today in Gaslight Park in Tampa.
Dozens and Dozens of Protesters (photo credit Tina Trent)
I use the word “big” only in the Horton Hears a Who sense. Although the march threatened to bring “thousands” of union members to the streets, I doubt there were more than 200 people. Many were reporters or observers from the RNC.
The protesters, such as they were, marched across the street from Gaslight Park at one point and appeared to be boarding a bus. Then they milled around a bit and marched back across the intersection to the park. Then they marched off in another direction. Just like America’s labor movement.
Oddly, only about 50 people had on any type of union shirt at all. I counted a gaggle of SEIU, a singular Teamster, and one girl wearing the logo of some alternative communications group. Most of the attendees looked like college kids or otherwise unoccupied Occupiers. There was a Ward Captain of something, so Chicago was representing.
The Chicago Way (photo credit Tina Trent)
A few men were blowing long, yellow plastic horns that took inordinate effort to produce a weak and muffled blare. “Miniscule, astroturfed, and not really representing anyone” seemed the real message of the day.
Maybe it was a union march, after all.
Not Funny (photo credit Mary Grabar)
Even so, the most popular messaging was about the so-called “war on women.” A half-dozen Code Pinkers in symbolic sateen-and-feather representations of human labias morphed into one many-headed vaginae and marched a block and a half to the union protest. There, they did not blend in.
If You Can Say It, Please Don’t (photo credit Mary Grabar)
I asked one attractive and pleasant young Code Pinker if she thought that staging a protest that would offend people was really an effective way of delivering a message. She peered up from between the velveteen labial folds hanging around her neck and said, “You mean men?
No, I told her, women would also be offended by the in-your-face vagina costumes. We went back and forth a bit. “Don’t you think you’re objectifying women’s bodies?” I asked, suddenly suffering a flashback to Women’s Studies and bucking under the memory of hours wasted reading Luce Irigaray. Is it women’s language that functions as resistance to the speculum of male speech? Or does the speculum of female voices threaten male phallogocentrism?
I didn’t want to talk anymore.
The vagina viewed me with vague consternation, her eyes shining with the blank joy of unwavering devotion to a cause. “Not with everything that’s been going on,” she said, referring to that gift that keeps giving, Todd Akin. When political speech devolves to debating an articulate young vagina standing on a street corner, what does that make the debater? I was relieved when Medea Benjamin, acting like some demented Brownie Troop leader, shooed the girl back among the elder vulvae.
But, way to empower women’s voices, Medea.
Back at the main protest site, a man claiming to be with Anonymous milled around holding up an i-pad bearing a live image of some basement-dweller in a Guy Fawkes costume. Anonymous couldn’t be at the protest, the man claimed, because he was stuck home watching his kids.
Anonymous’ BFF (photo credit Tina Trent)
To summarize: female protesters are turning themselves out on Tampa’s streets in the name of defending feminism, while male protesters are hiding behind computer screens and dime-store face masks to enhance their masculinity.
Mary Grabar and I did find one happy guy who didn’t seem confused about anything. It turns out the medium is the message, after all.
(photo credit . . . definitely . . . Mary Grabar)