This week’s highlights include duct tape pasties and a heaping serving of pro-life bullshit. Then there was gay-bashing and trans-misogyny. And an anti-oppressive Facebook group. Join it.
Well, I know I said I was going to take a one-week break, but why would I camp next to a lake when it’s too cold to swim in it? I’m speaking of course about a sudden change in the weather that brought about rain (it’s a rain forest here, what can I really say to that?) And I’d rather piss off some Catholics who harass women outside an abortion clinic, than get pissed on next to a lake. So, like last time, I responded by bringing out a newly assembled pair of duct tape pasties and my rain poncho (which is really a plastic bag I cut holes out of for my neck and arms). Not to have my spirits dampened by becoming dampened from head to toe, I also brought a clown nose and a tie (gotta look professional) with me. I arrived alone at the same time as a single pro-lifer, waited a few minutes and gave a lot of nods to passersby, and decided to strip before anyone else arrived. I got right down to a pair of what I call “manties” (this pair is covered in multiple colours of puzzle pieces complete with genitals and “Ohhh!” faces) and my pasties. As soon as my pro-choice companion arrived at the scene, the first words out of her mouth were “You’re ridiculous.” Mission Tacky As Fuck accomplished.
The Pro-Life (Bullshit) Posse
Soon after my companion arrived, approximately a dozen pro-lifers arrived in rapid succession. It quickly became apparent to me that they really have become desperate, and are now attempting to intimidate us by filming us from across the street (again) and striking up unwanted conversations that quickly derail into pseudo-semantics (e.g., “Stop misusing the word miscarriage!” or “You shouldn’t even think of using abortion as birth control!”) Either that or, like the last time they went too far and the rest of them showed up the following week, they have decided as a community that they need to start babysitting each other again to enforce some sort of half-assed attempt at self-policing. And how do they do that? But by trying to talk to me when I am clearly (and repeatedly) expressing that I’m not interested in speaking to them and repeatedly telling them to cease and desist (using as much profanity as I feel the situation requires). How else does a community police itself, but by badgering other people outside of it?
But what they are really trying to do is push my friends and I to become as erratic, offensive, and irresponsible as they are. They aren’t going to win that fight. While I was repeatedly saying “I don’t want to talk to you. Stop talking to me. Shut the fuck up. Fuck off. Just walk away. I’m not interested,” they claimed that I “just don’t want to talk to them” because I “don’t want to hear the truth.” So the message I can take home from this is something to the effect of well, you know, if you are being harassed and express that the attention you are receiving is unwanted, that doesn’t matter, because the real priority is why you don’t want to be harassed. Y’know. Because it clearly couldn’t possibly be that I simply don’t want to talk to someone who isn’t listening to me no matter what I say, who has videotaped me and taken photos of me in order to intimidate me, who has threatened me and made me feel threatened, and who then stands by those who have shamed me, (sexually) harassed me, stood by and laughed while my safety was threatened right in front of them, and then blamed me for all of it. I think someone needs to become better acquainted with what the Criminal Code of Canada has to say on the matter, because it clearly states that no one is exempt. So as of the moment I’m writing this, I’m arranging to show up tomorrow with this section of the criminal code pinned to my back tomorrow.
Blatant Lies And Shifting Goalposts
So what was so important to these pro-life demonstrators today, that I personally have the opportunity to hear from them, no matter how many times (or ways) I tell them to cease and desist? How about one of them, who wasn’t even present while my friends were being grabbed or punched in the kidney last week, insisting that no one was even touched? And when the mother of one of those women showed up, she changed her story to “Well she was just trying to take her pamphlet back.” What she’s really saying is, if any one of my friends was assaulted by any one of hers, it was my friend’s fault. Because I’m so sure that punching someone in the kidney or grabbing someone by the arm is the correct, legal, and totally appropriate way to retrieve a piece of paper from their hands. Was the pamphlet printed in gold leaf? Or carved out of a golden tablet? If not, let it the fuck go. What does it really cost, and is it worth ten years in prison to get it back? Moving on — how about the same demonstrator telling passersby that pro-lifers don’t actually want women thrown in prisons and padded cells for abortions and miscarriages? This begs the question: why criminalize it if you don’t want severe reprimand to fall upon the women who access one illegally? Why compare it to murder (or genocide, fer fuck’s sake) if it shouldn’t be answered with a life sentence in prison or indefinite detention in an asylum?
The same demonstrator insisted repeatedly that what’s written on my sign (i.e., pro-lifers here told me and my friends that I’m disgusting and should be ashamed of myself, that I’m asking to be raped and deserve it) was the topic of a great big conversation between her and I, in which we resolved this issue. And that’s awfully hilarious, considering I repeatedly tell them to stop talking to me because I’m done listening. Or considering that I’ve never had such an extensive conversation (or any conversation at all!) with any of the pro-life demonstrators about the shit they’ve said to me and my friends. What I’m really hearing is “get over it because it’s inconvenient for me when you keep bringing it up.” But just like it’s my decision what my risk tolerance is (i.e., whether I want to talk to you or not is my decision to make, not yours), it’s my decision what my tolerance for slut-shaming and rape culture is. And I’ve set my tolerance at zero on both counts. She had the gall to say “I don’t understand why you’re so angry” after I had repeatedly told her to shut the fuck up and stop talking to me. Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because you and your friends told me and my friends that I’m disgusting, should be ashamed of myself, deserve to be raped and am asking for it (all said knowing I have already been raped by multiple perpetrators)? Maybe because your friends have assaulted mine and then blamed them for it? Or maybe because you openly endorse ideologies I have zero tolerance for — such as slut-shaming, rape-victim-blaming, misogyny, and the desire to criminalize virtually any state of pregnancy that fails to be utterly perfect? I hope you assholes have finally caught on and are reading this by now. I really do.
Gawking, Shaming, And (More) Body-Policing
Today, these demonstrators were behaving as if they have never seen a mostly nude XX-chromosomal body before. I am skeptical of that, of course, because I’ve been mostly nude in front of them for ten fucking weeks in a row. The one who has been spitting daggers at me since the first week spent a majority of her time staring at me — and I mean really creepy staring, like a peeping Tom. I noticed because instead of simply rotating my sign, I decided to turn around to keep moving and try to prevent the low-back pain that seems to creep up on me when I stand relatively motionless. And while she was literally gawking at me rather excessively, another woman approached me and asked me what the point of being mostly nude is. What she’s really saying without saying it, though, is “Put some clothes on.” I told her the point is my body is an amusement park, not a territory for these people to police over. I told her that I should be able to stand around naked and not be ashamed of myself or in fear of what they think should happen to me. She told me I’m making a fool of myself. I wonder what gave it away first: the clown nose, perhaps? She also asked me if I’m nuts. I said I just might be. In retrospect, I don’t even see how my mental health status is relevant.
See, what none of these nerve-grating pontiffs know is that with the right key words, you can watch a man approaching 50 years of age at the time forcing his tongue deep into my exposed asshole. I have no shame about my body or anything I’ve done with it. I cannot make a fool of myself by standing around nearly nude across the street from an abortion clinic, to demonstrate bodily autonomy and demand respect for it and the ending of slut-shaming and rape culture all at the same time. I am not concerned about being embarrassed. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me for doing what I’m doing, and I’m prepared for the entire range of human expression at my carnal display. I’m not participating in a popularity contest or doing this for my ego or sexual gratification. I am doing it for justice, and that means that while I am on that corner in next-to-no-clothing, I am humble (and one who is humble cannot be humiliated — they have nothing to lose because they have already renounced it). I care that people think that I’m in charge of my own body, and that they ought to be in charge of their own too. I care that people think that I’m not telling them what to do with theirs, and that they ought to tell anyone who tries to tell them what to do with theirs to just piss off. And you know what? Gauging by the enormous amount of support I receive (from high fives, hand-shakes, fist-pumps, and hugs, to people who take the time to stand in solidarity while they tell me the details of their personal history with these demonstrators or what I am standing for), I think I’m doing something right.
As soon as I took my clothes off, a man walked up behind me and said “If you’re so committed to your cause, why do you hide behind your clown costume?” I just yelled back “Hiding? I’m not wearing any fucking clothes, you idiot!” as he ran across the street like a proper coward. I immediately acknowledge that calling this guy an idiot (one who exhibits limited intellect) instead of calling him a coward (one who picks fights by walking up behind someone and running away as fast as possible) reflects internalized privilege and ableism, and I regret that I am not more immediately on top of myself for this. That’s the second time I’ve caught myself saying something ableist when I’ve been incited by an anti-abortion coward. I am going to do my best to stop myself from making a habit out of this, and my first step looks like this:
Today, we hung up our pro-choice banner, and created a laundry line of free condoms (of both types). We also had an enormous collection of stylised wooden signs, and actually ran out, because we had so many people come to join us in solidarity! At least half a dozen pro-lifers showed up, and spread themselves over two corners (but we had enough supporters present, we had them covered). I’ve begun to see this as a new tactic that is designed to spread everyone so thin that they can successfully hand out their pamphlets without simultaneously being held accountable for the horrible hatred they’ve been spewing into our streets. They’ve done this on Fridays too, when our numbers are so reduced that we can’t risk spreading ourselves across two corners, so we just let them occupy the more distant of the two and call it a sort-of win. If I could clone myself, I’d be in my tight and brights as tacky as fuck on both corners.
Gay-Bashing And Trans-Misogyny
The following man approached us and immediately began calling out my young, slender, white, able-bodied male friend, calling him a pansy and a faggot:
I stepped in between them with my back facing this man as soon as I realized what was going on. I repeatedly pointed to the piece of paper on my back, told him what it was, and suggested he read it. Facing my friend, who was clearly starting to lose control of himself while this man continued to antagonize him by telling him women hate “pansies” and “faggots” like him (in addition to trying to convince him he’s alone), I did everything I could to encourage him to stop responding. The man then directed his attention towards me, saying “Can you get any more gay?” to which I said “No, I actually can’t.” As my friend tried to turn away, the man said to me “Look at you and your fake tits!” I told him I’m flattered he thinks my tits are so awesome that they must be fake, but they are very much real. I held my sign just above my shoulder to prevent him from securing my friend’s eye contact, and he was spitting in my face as he said “If you touch me with that sign, I’ll bash your head in with it.” I yelled as loudly as possible for someone to give me a phone so I can call the police, and as I was talking to a 9-1-1 dispatcher, he walked away to take the bus downtown, spitting his hatred the entire way. When he got across the street, my friends took his picture with my camera, which we were able to show to police when they arrived within minutes.
My friend returned some time later, while I was still shaking from such a clear threat to my safety. And as we re-grouped and discussed how one doesn’t have to be a homosexual to be gay-bashed (just as I don’t have to be a transwoman to be subjected to trans-misogyny), we were joined by our friends from across the street, who had also being threatened at the same time by another man of towering stature. He had approached a woman who appeared to him to be isolated from the group, and began antagonizing her, claiming he had a degree in some sort of philosophy, and asking her if she really wanted to “get into it” with him, as if her sign was a personal invitation addressed to him. As he inched closer and closer to her, she called out for her boyfriend to stand next to her. He started to become enraged, shouting that they were trying to impose on his right to stand at the bus stop. As more of my friends joined them, he backed off. But he was taller and larger than all of them, and seemed to be there exclusively for the purpose of picking a fist fight with someone he knew wouldn’t be able to win — something at least one of my friends has been anticipating for weeks, especially since what happened during week five when I was very easily isolated and fully covered up.
What The Butt-Fuck, You Might Ask
As a group, we are beginning to believe with increasing confidence that the pro-lifers are actually recruiting these individuals to show up for the express purpose of fucking our shit up and trying to make us step over the line. I personally have no reason to believe that these are random strangers who just happened upon our demonstration and found it absolutely necessary to flip their shits in such a serious gesture of aggression and hostility, and actually believe that these individuals are friends and family of the pro-life demonstrators whose actions incited me (and continue to incite me) to counter-protest. It just seems impossible that a pronounced misogynist would happen upon a young man who can barely defend himself, holding a sign that simply says “trust women”, and be spontaneously incited to such extreme manifestations of aggression. It seems equally impossible that such a person who has heard about our demonstrations would actually seek us out on the day they know to expect us, since it takes a particular kind of coward to pick fights with defenceless people at the edges of a peaceful street demonstration — one who I think is unlikely to leave their home for fear of what might happen to them if they vocalize their ideology in a public space.
The problem with their tactic is that you can’t terrorize someone who has already survived facing their own death as many times as I have. You can push me to the wall and beat me with fists, but I’ll fight back with everything I’ve got. So go ahead and try, fuckers. See you next Friday.