Late in January I covered the Texas Rally for Life, the record breaking anti-abortion protest at the State Capitol, and the tiny counterprotest against it: Austin’s Feminist Vigilante Gang. From the article on Firedoglake:
Make no mistake, this was a family affair — parents and children stood alongside entire Boy Scout troops, priests and nuns gathered in groups. This was a family affair like a Ku Klux Klan picnic at the beginning of the 20th century: huge, upbeat, and guaranteed to generate shame when the grandkids bring it up decades from now.
How do you protest a group of thousands when you only have a handful? One answer is to be as aggressively eye-catching as possible. Enter Austin’s new Feminist Vigilante Gang. The Feminist Vigilante Gangs are a decentralized movement which believes in responding aggressively to rape, violence, harassment and attacks on women’s rights.
One negative encounter at the rally resulted in a followup interview with a representative of the Austin Catholic New Media team:
Kit: Can you shed any light on to what occurred? There has actually been a fair amount of speculation and theorizing both online and in person about this encounter, and I’d like to clear the air with a followup to my story so that my readers know what really happened at least in general terms. Was the equipment including the microphone with the ACNM logo official ACNM property? Who were the camera man and “reporter” (at least in a general sense, i.e. their role in your organization if any)?
ACNM: Thanks again for reaching out.
Honestly there’s no great conspiracy or anything grand to speak of. It was simply a breakdown in communication. The film team was there in an official capacity but the young lady you photographed was not one our normal contributors, that’s why I didn’t recognize her. The equipment was also new via another new contributor, again nothing really to speak of other then the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing.
There’s a bubble in Austin — what Patton Oswalt calls the Bubble of Sanity — which makes it easy to forget that we live in Texas, that we are in fact it’s Capitol. Every two years, the legislature opens and events like this make that harder to forget. Hearing a crowd cheer for the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the banning of gay marriage was like having my nose rubbed in the fact that I live in Texas, and the state is hostile to my queerness, and hostile to my reproductive choice. For those who don’t know, Planned Parenthood helped me get an inexpensive vasectomy years ago, an act which for all I know may have prevented abortions, and gave me control over my body. I spent a little while fantasizing about leaving that weekend, but where do you go that’s really any more free?
Photo by Kit O’Connell, all rights reserved.