Women Fight Back
December 1977, LA City Hall Steps
A motorcade of 60 women followed a hearse to City Hall. The invited audience waiting for us were news media and reporters. We considered them to be performers in the event
Ten 8 foot tall women cloaked from head to toe in black like 19th century mourners climbed out of the hearse on to the sidewalk. Lined up they marched in a group to the steps of city hall.
Women from the motorcade took their places on the sides of the steps like a Greek chorus. At the front steps each performer stepped forward and announced a different form of violence against women.
“I am here for the 10 women raped and murdered in Los Angeles.” The chorus responded after every woman who came forward: “In Memory of Our Sisters, We Fight Back.”
The 10th women cloaked in red representing our rage, stepped forward after each statement and wrapped a red shawl around the woman until they were all aligned together on a higher step. Lacy stood at the microphone and made a strong speech making our positions clear. City council members came forward to the microphone and voiced their support and commitment to start self defense classes in the city. Singer songwriter Holly Near wrote the song “Fight Back” for this event and sang it acappella in the City Plaza.
We provided the press with a press kit that included a script of the performance and our critique of the way the news was reporting these crimes, Labowitz handed out press kits to the media making sure they understood the message. She also went on news shows representing our critique of the media coverage.
The performance was purposefully staged to control our message. Lacy directed the performance while simultaneously Labowitz directed the press conference. A press kit that included a script of the performance and our critique of the media coverage was handed out at the onset as the hearse arrived at city hall. The performance reached its target with extensive coverage on local and nationwide news exactly as we designed it. International coverage as exemplified by the Paris Match article shown on the website both sensationalized the murders and covered our event extensively. Labowitz was interviewed on various local news programs to elaborate on our position that the media was contributing to the citywide fear and perpetuation of women’s victimization as entertainment.
Participating artists include Bia Lowe, women from The Woman’s Building, photos by Maria Karris and Susan Mogul, video by the Women Video Project.
- Some Nerve, Vogue Magazine, article on artistic innovators and influencers including In Mourning and In Rage performance.