"More tits, less Bush"

By Rebecca Traister - Corrie Pikul
Published August 28, 2004 9:28PM (EDT)

Thousands marched across the Brooklyn Bridge during Saturday's March for Women's Lives, two days before the kick-off of the Republican National Convention. Planned Parenthood began to lay plans for the event after the success of April's March for Women's Lives, which drew an estimated 1 million people to Washington D.C. in support of reproductive freedoms. Saturday's march was much less well publicized, and it seemed that it might be drowned out by the much larger United for Peace and Justice march scheduled for Sunday.

But the vast sea of people gathered in Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza on Saturday morning, and despite the heat and skin-frying sun, remained laid-back, cheerfully toting signs like, "No Bush In My Puss," and "What if Barbara or Jenna were impregnated by Willie Horton?"

Three young women walked topless, their nipples covered by heart-shaped pasties. They attracted an imitator who ripped off her shirt and wrote "More tits, less Bush" on her bare belly.

That was about as crazy as things got.

The bridge-crossing was downright lackadaisical, despite organizers' attempts to get people into slogans like, "Two, Four, Six, Eight, We're the ones who ovulate!" New Yorkers are not joiners. And besides, it was too hot to chant; it was enough that they were marching. Even vagina-monologist Eve Ensler kept silent as she strolled, piping up once to warn those behind her to "ignore the antis" when they reached Manhattan. But there were very few anti-abortion protesters at the bridge exit. What was waiting was a double-decker tour bus filled with what looked to be visiting Republicans, many photographing the approaching onslaught. One older woman with an RNC pin and an American flag scarf tied around her neck waved down excitedly and gave marchers a thumbs-up sign.

Next to the stage outside City Hall, Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt told Salon that this was the perfect time and place to advocate for women's reproductive rights, in part because, "the majority of Republicans are pro-choice. It's just that the commander-and-chief of the war on women's bodies happens to be a Republican."

"I think we'll have a revolution if this election doesn't go the right way," said actress Kathleen Turner, her voice thick and deep as ever as she waited her turn to address the growing crowd. When Salon asked if she ever got scared that it wasn't going to go her way, she gave a sad smile. "Yeah, I do," she said. Turner is hoping to make it to the march tomorrow if her rheumatoid arthritis allows, and added that she's not worried about Republican attempts to make protests appear violent or anarchic. "So what? They lie about everything anyway!" she said.

More demure was Peggy Kerry, John Kerry's sister, in a white John04John tank top and peasant skirt belted with a Kerry-Edwards scarf. Normally, Kerry doesn't speak at rallies because she is a State Department employee. "If I make some sort of speech I have to vet it with work," she explained to Salon. "But today, I'm speaking as a long-time supporter of women's rights, which is a bipartisan issue."

The regal-looking former ambassador to Norway, Robin Chandler Duke, 81, came over to greet Kerry, waving an "I [Heart] Pro-Choice New York" sign with a NARAL logo at the bottom. "I helped found this!" said Duke, a former NARAL president. "And it is just incredible that we're still out in this heat fighting about it! Oh well, the fight goes on."

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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Corrie Pikul

Corrie Pikul writes about women's issues and pop culture. She lives in Brooklyn.

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