Happy Women’s History Month! But this is no time for revelry:
- Last week, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney proclaimed, “Planned Parenthood. We’re going to get rid of that,” when outlining his plans to get federal spending under control.
- The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), up for renewal this year, faces stiff Republican opposition, prompting Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) to say, “This is one more step in the removal of rights for women.”
- More than 1,100 anti-abortion provisions were introduced into state legislatures last year, 135 of which were enacted.
- Also in 2011, seven states defunded or took steps to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides basic health care, breast cancer and STD screenings - in addition to contraception - to millions of low-income women - each year.
Women who fight back encounter recriminations seemingly intended to shame them into silence. Popular messages include:
- As long as they are acting on deeply held religious and moral beliefs, people should have the right to limit your health care choices: Where is your respect for faith-based intolerance?
- It’s unseemly to use the fight over birth control as an excuse to raise money for reproductive rights work.
- “Those” women are slutty (or worse, ugly; or worst of all, old).
If all of this made you want to throw up, read on. There are ways to address this. A purely hypothetical example: You issue an online call for women all over the U.S. to round up friends, neighbors, etc. to raise money for Planned Parenthood, et al. You create a web site whose home page contains something like this:
“ Join the Mutual Association of Defiant Biddies, Ice Queens, Tarts, Cows, and Hags, Easy Women, & Sluts (MAD BITCHES)… a fundraising association to benefit organizations for women activists who will not be shamed into silence or inaction
Not able to fundraise? Become an honorary member! Donate Now! [Clicking on “Donate Now!” takes you to the site’s donation page.]
Our goal is to raise $100,000, and to distribute the money among organizations that promote reproductive freedom and/or work to eliminate violence against women. If folks form 100 MAD BITCHES chapters, and if each chapter can raise $1000, that’s $100,000 to train activists in 25 cities to run woman-friendly political campaigns, or to fund over 2000 hours of counseling services for battered women.
Click here for examples of fast and easy ways for each chapter to raise $1000.”
Clicking takes you to the site’s page of fundraising examples, such as:
“National Tart Appreciation Day: On the designated day, BITCHES across the U.S. sell single-serving tarts - on Capitol Hill, at state capitols, and at other strategic sites. Above each cart is a big ‘Tart Sale!’ banner on which is drawn a cartoon of a man who resembles Rush Limbaugh saying, ‘Only tarts support access to birth control!’ Women of all ages, and from all walks of life sell tarts, wearing typical tart costume fare: fish nets, high heels, bright red lip stick, big hair, boas, over-the-top dresses of fabric resembling leopard skin or leather, and to-the-elbow gloves (red or black). On Capitol Hill and at state capitols, members of Congress and state legislatures take turns tarting up and helping with sales at the nearest tart cart. Chapter members go to legislators’ offices and sell their goods door-to-door.
Because MAD BITCHES pull off simultaneous tart sales across the country and involve tarted-up lawmakers in selling tarts, they attract media coverage, which helps to both drive business to the tart carts and generate post-event donations.
Bottom Line: If 10 volunteers per chapter each agree to contribute 3 dozen tarts, and all the tarts are sold at $3 each, the bake sale yields $1080, not including post-sale donations.
Re-Purposed & Re-Used Raffle – To round up raffle prizes quickly and easily, BITCHES collect unwanted and unopened birthday, wedding, graduation, holiday, and other gifts that are taking up space in their closets. They ask friends, neighbors, etc. to do the same, reminding them of the satisfaction they’ll feel in knowing that the never-worn sweater vest from their anti-choice relatives is helping to subsidize pro-choice organizations. And they mention that no gift is too insignificant to donate. (For instance, you round up the Hickory Farm sausages, the Starbucks coffee mugs, and the gourmet honeys; then you wrap it all up with a big piece of cellophane, top with a bow, stick it in a basket, and voila – a “Breakfast in a Basket.” If your collection of donated gifts happens to include a sweater vest, throw that in the basket too, and one lucky winner can pretend to be Rick Santorum breakfasting at a campaign stop.)
Bottom Line: If average ticket cost is $2.50, each volunteer sells 50 tickets, and there are 10 volunteers in your chapter, you raise $1250.
Misogyny Meter: BITCHES ask people to pledge a dollar for each time - say, within the first week of April – that a presidential candidate expresses opposition to federally funding reproductive health care or VAWA. Each chapter appoints a Website Bitch to create a web page where people can go to pledge money, find out which candidates have said what, how much money they owe to-date, and how much the chapter has raised so far.
Bottom Line: Reserve this fundraiser for when a vote on VAWA is imminent, Rick Santorum delivers a speech, or for the occurrence of some other event likely to provoke over-the-top candidate commentary on women’s rights.
To sum up: No need to throw up. No time for revelry. Celebrate Women’s History Month next year. Let’s make some money. Then let’s make some history.