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Women wear red underwear for pro-choice rights

Mills College Weekly

Amanda in Oakland will be doing it. So will Giselle in Vancouver, British Columbia and even Christine in South Korea will join in.

These three women are among 200 men and women who have signed Marilyn Wann’s pledge to wear red panties on Oct. 7 in honor of “wear panties for reproductive choice” day.

However, when Wann’s e-mail to participate in “red panties day” hit the Mills campus, reactions were mixed among Mills students.

“I personally feel women can put something more tasteful together,” said senior Tracy Edwards. “Something to show we are more powerful than people who just wear underwear.”

“Anything is better than nothing,” said junior Kim Moran. “It is an interesting attention-getter.”

While some agree that wearing red panties is a quick and easy way to make a political statement, they also wondered how effective this statement would be.

“I will be wearing red panties,” said junior Sunshine Ludder. ” I think it’s a fun way to feel secretly connected to other people. But I don’t think it is an effective strategic tool to get to a goal.”

But Wann, coordinator of special projects for the Red Panty division in San Francisco, remains optimistic, with possible plans in the works for participants to mail their panties to the president with the words “I support reproductive rights” written on them.

Wann and her colleagues designed the protest to coincide with the day the Supreme Court goes back into session to raise awareness that women’s reproductive choice is at risk.

According to The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, it has been seven years since a Supreme Court retirement, the longest period in our nation’s history. A vacancy is long overdue and according to abortion rights organizers, President Bush will likely have the opportunity to name two, perhaps three, justices to the Court, which some fear will shift the balance and overturn Roe v. Wade.

“We all have a stake in our reproductive society,” said Wann. This is the major push behind red panties day. According to Wann, what started as joke at a dance rehearsal became a subtle and invisible art installation for an issue that strikes a chord in every woman. “I always liked that conceptual art could shift the way people think,” she said. “I hope this is part of that tradition.”

Wann, not wanting the day to just be about women, strongly encourages men to get involved with the red panty movement. She offers a link on her Web site where men can purchase their very own nylon silky red panties.

Even those without a pair of red panties can participate, said Wann by simply writing the word red on a pair of panties you already have.

“I want it to be a fun thing that people from Shanghai, Germany and even Sydney, Australia could do,” she said. “I hope people enjoy their red panties and wear them in good health and we’ll do it again next year.”