Summer speeds by here in eventful Michigan with legislation threatening to take away women’s rights; learn about these bills here. House Speaker Jase Bolger has banned State Representatives Barb Byrum and Lisa Brown from speaking on the floor after each used medical terms like “vagina” and “vascetomy.” In protest, Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler joined Planned Parenthood to deliver vagina stories on the Capitol steps. And since then, women’s rights advocates continue to challenge these anti-democratic and misogynist actions taking place before our eyes. These events are part of a wider war on women that is re-energizing women’s rights advocates to stand together and speak out; learn more from these sites – Stop the War on Women, ACLU, UniteWomen.org.
As a result of our participation in the June rally Vaginas Take Back the Michigan Capitol, a grassroots group has come together to organize the free program Va Va Va Voom! Vagina, Voice, Vote, Victory! on Saturday, July 28, from 7:00pm to 10:00pm at Gone Wired Cafe, 2021 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing. See us on Facebook. Women and allies are invited to this unique event combining an open mic, political education, and art-making, with our event partners The Women’s Rights Task Force (Peace Education Center of Greater Lansing) and the Lansing Area Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Here is a look at our festive program:
- Guests include eco-artist Showey Howey (Lake Orion, MI), Lansing-area NOW Co-President Bonnie Bucqueroux, and open mic emcees Melissa Osborn (WRTF/PEC) and myself.
- The open-mic theme is “Our Choices: Personal stories about women’s rights, bodies, and lives.” In a respectful environment, women and their allies are invited to share stories about lived experiences of women. Advance registration is encouraged; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-ins welcomed as space allows.
- The education table provides voter-registration information, a voter guide from Michigan NOW, and information on the political process.
- Creation stations offer collage and fiber art; no artistic experience is required. Individual collages will be shaped into one display at Gone Wired, and later returned to participants. Most supplies are provided; magazines are needed.
Eco-fiber artist Howey shows how to transform everyday t-shirts and “unmentionables” into political statements with stamping and paints. Participants need to bring materials that are cotton, light-colored, and laundered without fabric softener. A limited supply of free undies will be available.
- Activist Ann Francis closes up the program at 9pm with a dialogue “Direct action, advocacy, and community building.”
- Volunteers are needed for set-up (6pm) and especially clean-up (from 10pm onwards).
Despite the seriousness of what is happening, we are looking forward to a night of revelry as we celebrate stories from and about real women. Hope you can join us!