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Commentary :: DNC
Street Theater at the DNC
05 Aug 2004
During the week of the DNC, a women’s street theater group known as Dagger (part of The Theater Offensive) decided to raise our voices out on the streets, armed with a large multibreasted goddess puppet. We didn’t have a particular political affiliation or specific cause to protest. We were instead using interactive theater, puppetry, and more specifically the power of the breast as a symbol to draw attention to women’s issues that receive no attention from the political system or the corporate media.
During the week of the DNC, a women’s street theater group known as Dagger (part of The Theater Offensive) decided to raise our voices out on the streets, armed with a large multibreasted goddess puppet. We appeared at the Bazaar on Tuesday and the area around the protest pen on Thusday. Our work was rooted in a participatory physical and vocal warmup and a focusing/protective ritual. From there we danced, symbolically juggled food and rent, shouted vocal warm-ups over anti-abortion fascists, and mainly spent time talking with many curious onlookers.
We didn’t have a particular political affiliation or specific cause to protest. We were instead using interactive theater, puppetry, and more specifically the power of the breast as a symbol to draw attention to women’s issues that receive no attention from the political system or the corporate media.
The puppet was inspired by a Greek goddess, Artemis (aka Diane) who protects women and slaves. The thirteen breasts were of different sizes, shapes, and colors. One breast had been scarred from surgery, which represents both women fighting breast cancer and transwomen whose breasts may be surgical. Breasts are a symbol of nurturing and a sign of women’s power. We used goddess imagery to connect to pre-Christian, non-patriarchal belief systems where women were respected as people rather than as accessories to men.
As a street theater group, we had no signs clearly marking our purpose. We were more interested in raising awareness through dialogue than in instantly demonstrating only one clear message. The reactions we provoked were hugely varied but universally intense. The most people asked something along the lines of, “what is that supposed to be?” or “what are you trying to say?” One cop asked if he could take our picture. We agreed on the condition that we also take his. After explaining our objectives to him, he interestingly began telling us that he doesn’t abuse women. Very thoughtful of him. Here are some of the more striking comments we received:
“They’re all different colors and shapes and sizes and they’re all beautiful.” “What is that, boobs against Kerry?” “I wanna get me a mulitbreasted goddess” “Gross” “Can I squeeze them?” “So you’re connecting the war in Iraq to violence against women?” “Are those titties?” “Is that the whore of democracy?” “This is the first thing I’ve seen that I’ve really connected with.” Some parents were startled by the puppet and hurried their children past us, but almost all of the children themselves smiled at the many powerful breasts.
I learned just how sexualized breasts are in our culture, and how mystified people are by creative expression that doesn’t lend itself instantly to a party line or a concrete issue.
We draw attention to a variety (but certainly not an all encompassing range) of women’s issues – the importance of embracing our different and beautiful bodies, the astronomical rates of rape, sexual assault, and murder in this country, the outrage of a predominantly male government defining our issues for us and then proceeding to pass legislation controlling us, the inaccessibility of health care and welfare, and the oppression that women of color and queer women face everyday.
Throughout our endeavors, we were objectified, complimented, condemned, photographed, hooted at, told to find Jesus, interrogated, and most movingly encouraged by the many people (across many genders) who knew exactly what we were talking about.
Thank you to everyone who questioned us and shared their voices. If anyone has pictures they would be much appreciated.

This work is in the public domain
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Comments

Re: Street Theater at the DNC
05 Aug 2004
rock on!
it's great to hear about the decentralized actions that people were up to during the week of the dnc. this story makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

-evan
Re: Street Theater at the DNC
05 Aug 2004
Me too, any pics of the theater? If we had pics it might garner more attention to your issues here on the site as well as it does on the street...
Re: Street Theater at the DNC
08 Aug 2004
yay!!!!!!!

that sounds awesome.