By Mike Talavera
Yesterday outside of City Hall in downtown Austin, a contingent of women led by the Popular Women’s Movement (Movimiento Femenino Popular, PWM-MFP) dressed in military fatigues and red masks marched up the street chanting, “Without a People’s Army, women have nothing!” Upon reaching the center of the courtyard, the militant women demonstrated their self-defense skills as they tossed around a fellow protester dressed in a police uniform and pig mask and theatrically beat him to a pulp.
The scene reached its climax as one woman drew a knife, raised it high in the air, and then plunged it into the belly of the “pig.” Fake blood oozed from his stomach as he let out a death squeal.
“Sexual abuse against women is not given the time of day by the Austin pigs,” one PWM-MFP spokeswoman said to the small crowd that had gathered following the play. “They don’t give a fuck about women, especially when it’s their own doing the abusing. But the minute women start organizing and becoming militant revolutionaries, the response from the state is swift and brutal. This brutality does not dissuade the revolutionary women, on the contrary it makes us angrier. They are simply poking a hornet’s nest enticing the wrath of working women to be unleashed!”
The performance coincided with a city council meeting where a resolution was approved to “evaluate the Austin Police Department’s processing and investigation of reported sexual assaults.” The item was prompted by an investigative report published at the end of last year that showed police departments across the country, including APD, do not pursue the majority of rape cases despite having enough evidence to make an arrest.
A liberal-anarchist group “ATX Resistance Action” had called for a protest of the council meeting, highlighting one Austin police commander, Jason Duane Dusterhoft, who they claim was being re-hired by the city. APD fired Dusterhoft last December after allegations came forward from his ex-girlfriend that he had physically beat and strangled her multiple times.
Despite making the original call, “ATX Resistance Action” mustered only a small handful of protesters who held signs inside the lobby outside the council chambers. One woman who attended that protest told Incendiary that she and a few others had left because the Mayor and NGO Survivors Justice Project had asked them not to make a disruption.
In addition to reenacting people’s justice against an abusive pig, PWM-MFP also handed out a zine to onlookers entitled “Misogyny on the Left: Abusers and Macktivists in Austin,” which profiled big name local “leftists” with a history of sexism, including one of the organizers of the ATX Resistance Action event – Kit O’Connell.
“Like a typical macktivist, O’Connell has an agenda of sexual contact with activist women, making money, and seeking attention for himself,” the zine reads. “O’Connell and his ideas are alienating to women and should be challenged.”
Following their performance, the PWM-MFP-led women marched around the block chanting, “Abusive pigs deserve to die! Women hold up half the sky!” before returning to the courtyard to fill the protest vacuum that had been left by “ATX Resistance Action”.
Despite being a relatively new organization, PWM-MFP already made a profound demarcation between itself and the liberal feminist organizations that currently dominate the Austin Left when it intervened at the Women’s March earlier this month. Yesterday’s action further distinguished the group, presenting their members and supporters as disciplined fighters who have the courage to confront class enemies head on.
With militant women taking a revolutionary stance in other parts of the country, this year promises to be a historic one in the struggle for women’s liberation in the US.