Once again this week, I intended to go Friday and Saturday, but my energy was tapped out on the first day. I’m finding it very difficult to get enough sleep most days. The only concern I had this week was getting there in a timely manner, so that anyone else who would be with me wouldn’t leave thinking there was no help on the way. Very fortunately, this did not happen.
I changed my sign this week, to read “Pro-lifers here insist that I deserve to be raped. Sincerely, a friendly local rape survivor.” I also made a point of taking pictures of many of the individuals responsible for these sentiments, as well as for grabbing and punching my friends, walking into the crosswalk to block the path of an oncoming ambulance, and standing idly by while people are threatened with violence directly in front of them. Then of course, there is the incident involving Gordon Watson, a known anti-abortion extremist with a reputation for violence against anyone whose political leanings differ. One of the pro-life people occupying that corner every week was happy to entertain a friendly chat with him at some length, and I found this fairly disturbing.
This is the powerful irony of pro-life demonstrations. We went out there to begin with, because this man and his fellow demonstrators have been picketing an abortion clinic for years, for the exclusive purpose of shaming women. We went out there because one of those women was slut-shamed when she casually enquired into one of the most contentious aspects of pro-life rhetoric. We went out there to hold them accountable in the public eye, to expose their hatred, and to give people reason to tell them to get out of our streets once and for all. And they answered us with further slut-shaming, telling us we’re disgusting and deserve to be raped, and rather ironically shouting “You should be ashamed of yourself!” at us. I for one didn’t talk to them except to tell the one pictured above to read my sign, and to ask this next one how she’s comfortable standing around covered from the neck down on a hot day (to which I added that I should be able to walk around fully nude and not be ashamed of myself or beaten to the ground and raped). And those are my last words to any of them apart from “No, I don’t want to talk to you.”
Pro-life rhetoric is all about protecting life and ending violence, so where the fuck did these people start going wrong? Is a woman’s life somehow not deserving of being defended, because it is somehow innately worthless? Or is it that a woman’s life is just arbitrarily worth less than a child she has yet to conceive? I am officially sick and fucking tired of this hatred being aired in the streets of my city. If we’re all created in God’s image and likeness, as these people all seem to believe (it’s certainly a driving factor in their argument about “pre-born children’s right to life”), then it’s about fucking time they start acting like it and cut the shit. I’d be positively delighted to hear that all of them moved on to promoting something they love instead of bashing the women they hate — such as by volunteering with adoption and foster organizations (even religious ones). I’m actually being serious here.
Tomorrow I hope to have published, a press release that I’ve been working on. I’ve had a lot of help writing it (it’s the first time I’ve ever written something like it), and I’m going to have even more help organizing counter-tactics against the upcoming 40 Days For Life 24-hour prayer vigil in front of BC Women’s Hospital. But first, on Tuesday, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada is organizing a rally against Motion 312 (which seeks to re-define the beginning of personhood in Canada). And I feel a responsibility to be there. It’s been over four months since the co-opted abortion caravan demonstration I picketed (where all of these people showed up and stood behind CCBR picketers while I shouted at them about what the people behind them are up to, until they nearly cried), and nothing has changed. I’m done playing clown and pretending I’m not fucking furious about this problem in the streets of Vancouver. Although I’ll still probably play clown. It’ll just be an angry one.