Walk for Life vs. Roe v. Wade birthday party: Abortion showdown SF
By now the crowd had to swelled to about 1,000, and everyone, including me, was waiting around for the main event, a "flash mob"-style dance performance organized by Code Pink and Eve "Vagina Monologues" Ensler's One Billion Rising organization, among several other feminist and left-wing groups.
The whole point behind "flash mobs" is that they are supposed to happen "spontaneously," or at least "pseudo-spontaneously," in which several hundred people surreptitiously gather in some crowded downtown location and suddenly erupt into coordinated dancing or whatever, to the utter astonishment of all the shocked squares around them. In fact, "shocking the squares" is the only reason why any flash mob exists; there'd be no point in organizing a flash mob in the middle of nowhere with no oblivious witnesses around to observe it.
Similarly, there'd be no point in publicly pre-announcing a flash mob and then performing exclusively for people who know about it ahead of time, all of whom showed up specifically to watch the "show." That's not spontaneous, and no one is surprised. But that's exactly what happened at the Embarcadero: The speakers kept announcing, "The surprise performance will be happening soon! Get ready!" To which the audience would cheer, "Yay, the flash mob! This is gonna be great!" Talk about defeating the purpose.
Further solidifying the artificial feel to the whole thing was the presence of several professional film crews hired by One Billion Rising to create a "professionally filmed street performance" which they will later release as a "viral video" to "the media." Ever get the feeling you're being manipulated?
The professional still photographers set up ladders around the performance space to spontaneously document all the organic unexpected happenings.
Costumed professional dance troupes hired by Code Pink waited in the wings for the signal to spontaneously appear.
The video camera operators got into position and the moment had arrived: Time to unleash the taiko drums, announcing the start of the unexpected flash mob!
First up was a large group of teenage girls and young women doing various sexualized gyrations. This seemed like a self-conscious attempt by the organizers to bring back the glory days of the 1960s when the presence of countless "open-minded" girls in the counter-culture made it so appealing to the nation's boys that it grew into a mass movement and created a social revolution.
The gyrations were interspersed with somber ritual movements focusing on individual dancers holding those paper bags with tragic (but irrelevant) statistics like "Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is battered - My BODY is HOLY."
Unexpectedly, this was spontaneously followed by a series of ethnic dance troupes, such as this belly dance covey. Note the two camera crews who by sheer chance just happened to be standing right where the dancers materialized!
Then the hormone-powered Estrogen Dancers were brought back to do the Never Again Samba.
Next, about 500 "community dancers" (i.e. random people who signed up ahead of time) did the "Abortion on Demand & Without Apology Polka."
It was right around here that the absurdity and grotesquerie of what I was witnessing really began to sink in. Whatever side of the issue you're on, abortion is a very serious and heart-rending subject, and to "celebrate" the 40th anniversary of legalized abortion with joyous dances suddenly seemed like the height of poor taste.
The performance was concluded by some weird culty-looking group doing strange prayers in a circle.
Then they sang a dreary song while their desperate eyes pleaded "Help me! I'm trapped in a cult!"
As the performances were wrapping up, the more hardcore pro-abortion groups started handing out these flyers, encouraging everyone to go confront the Walk for Life directly.
I thought the flyers were a bit unnecessary, because wasn't this whole dance performance thing just a prelude to the big looming confrontatition against the pro-life march, which was due to show up any minute? Isn't that the real reason why we're all here?
But no! I was shocked to watch as, after the final cult prayer, everyone just got up and started wandering off home. The organizers had gathered 1,000 activists together and filled them with righteous pro-choice energy, and rather than using that energy to perhaps win some converts from the pro-life side or at least neutralize the opposing protest, instead the event was called to an end and everyone was dismissed, completely dissipating the energy and losing a huge opportunity.
It dawned on me that the pro-choice side had no interest in confronting the pro-life side — in fact, they wanted to do everything they could to avoid the pro-life side, because the wishy-washy left does not like to have its narratives challenged. We all knew from previous Walks for Life, in which the two sides did come into direct contact, that the pro-choice side came off looking mean-spirited and frivolous, while the pro-life side didn't conform to stereotypes and instead were silent, high-minded and powerful seeming. Also despite the overly optimistic titles like "One Billion Rising," the pro-choice side probably knew they were going to be badly outnumbered, so they instead chose to skip town before any direct head-count comparisons could be made. But by fleeing, the pro-choicers just ended up seeming narcissistic and risk-avoidant.
The political cowardice of the wishy-washy feminist left also seemed to infuriate the more in-your-face pro-abortion groups in attendance, and as the crowd drifted away the hardcore abortion advocates used loudspeakers to beg everyone to join them in a counter-march against the Walk For Life, which I was surprised to learn was not even going to arrive at the Embarcadero for another two hours at least, after which all the pro-choicers would be long gone.
Not many people heeded the pro-abortionists' summons, but I decided to hook up with them since I was heading over to document the Walk for Life anyway. Might as well have an escort.