This week’s highlights include lots of colours, lots of sarcasm, and even some spandex.
Without quite enough time or energy to do a repeat of Wednesday (chiefly, the part about passing out condoms — that box gets fucking heavy after an hour!), I decided to break out the sign I used on Tuesday for a second run. Here’s a picture of me from Tuesday that one of my friends found on Flickr:
A funny thing happens when you advance the question “Who is the patron saint of misogyny?” in a public space. Lots of people approach and offer the first name of a saint they can think of, and expect you to laugh with them. The problem is, of course, that there is no answer. Hatred of women isn’t a virtue, let alone a virtue of any Christian faith. The point of asking this question is to shame religious misogynists in their own language. Not to debate whether or not a number of well-known saints are misogynists. Nor to dispute whether or not Christianity is a particularly misogynist faith. These concerns take a back seat to the issue of street harassment — especially in the form of anti-choicers picketing an abortion clinic for the express purpose of shaming women and telling any woman who stands up to them that a) she deserves to be raped, b) she’s a slut, and/or c) the government should sanction control over her body to police her sexuality and reproductive capacity. I’m there to make fun of them, by throwing their religious bullshit straight back in their faces. But I’m also there to offer everyone else a little humour along with my solidarity. It’s become really important to my activism that my presence is positive and empowering.
Now, I realize my presence may not be as positive for the religious population as it is for everyone else — this is especially true for devout Christians. This was apparent to me long before I stepped into the street. On Friday morning, I was holding onto my sign with a rubber chicken in one hand, just to emphasize that I’m clowning (in case the clown nose, clown wig, and clown socks somehow didn’t announce this for me). A man approached me and asked, with a rather serious tone bordering on condemnation, if I’m making fun of anyone. Instead of telling him something that would incite him to antagonize me, I answered him with questions. “Is hatred of women funny?” I asked. “Is telling women they deserve to be raped funny?” He asked me who said that, and I pointed towards the anti-choicers there who actually have said this, repeatedly, nearly every week for more than four months. He understood, and that was the end of that conversation. I made a point later of approaching a woman who was wearing what looked like a Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform sign, and quietly told her that she’s standing next to someone who has told me and multiple women that they deserve to be raped. Then smiled and walked away. All of the anti-choicers dissipated after an hour.
Because the weather is changing, I can’t bounce around in my underwear anymore, and I was feeling a little less bubbly in a lot of black and grey clothing yesterday (even though I still had a lot of bright colours on me too). So I went on a mission to find an absurdly tacky and fluffy tutu, the most hideous faux-fur boot covers I could find at a reasonable price, and possibly some matching paws. Here’s what I wound up with instead:
A funny thing happened this morning, almost as soon as I zipped my head in. The anti-choicer who I had informed when she was standing adjacent to a woman who has told women, repeatedly, that they deserve to be raped, accused me of telling her that she deserves to be raped. After explaining what I actually said to one of my fellow pro-choice demonstrators, I stated something to the effect of “Wow. If that’s what she thinks happened, then she can imagine how I feel!” After all, I am the first person who was targeted by this hatred, and the woman who said it knew I had already been raped before. I had written it on my sign, and she made a point of saying, not only that I deserved it, but that I’m asking for it too. I couldn’t help but notice how the woman I said this to kept her distance from the one who has said all these heinous things to so many women. However, she did spend a long time standing next to our old friend with Donald Trump hair: Roger, aka, “Rush Limbaugh”. So after it seemed like her misinformation was cleared up, and she was almost within arm’s reach, I shouted at her that now she’s standing next to someone who has blocked an ambulance and stood by doing nothing while people are threatened right in front of him. “Real pro-life, there,” I said. “Real anti-violence.” She quickly walked away and I added “Good choice.”
Among other tactics we used today, one of the pro-choice demonstrators brought a bible with them, and recited Matthew 6:5-6. This is a quote from the bible that explicitly concerns the practice of praying in public simply for the sake of shaming others by showing how virtuous one is:
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
(King James Bible)
These verses are said to be the teachings of Jesus, as observed by Matthew. They are part of a long lesson of how one should and should not pray to the Father — lessons Jesus was said to have taken with him all across Mesopotamia (my word choice, for the sake of brevity). The woman with the CCBR sign kept demanding to know the context in which this quote comes from. Well, if you’re reading this, now you know. And you should also know that a Satanist just formally demonstrated a more thorough understanding of one of your most basic religious rites and the associated responsibilities, than you do. This, of course, doesn’t surprise me in the least — I’ve seen this same portrait of Christianity over and over again. Ad nauseum. For the past two decades, and almost categorically in fact, since I first became aware of how hypocritical many devouts are with respect to the bibles they thump so hard on. In all that time, I have sincerely felt that there has been only one person who identified himself as a Christian, who lived consistently and didn’t make me feel that I couldn’t trust him. Hypocritical devouts would tell him he should be ashamed of himself, right there in the streets, too. Of that I have little doubt. They all dispersed after just one hour today, packing up and arguing with us while one of our demonstrators recited those verses for the second time at yelling volume.
The Green Men at Canucks Games
I can understand the impulse to compare one of me in a black-and-white checkered spandex suit to two guys in monochromatic green ones. What I can’t understand is the comparison between me, currently homeless, and not one but two men, who can afford rink-side season tickets at Canucks games in Vancouver. Well, maybe no one (other than people who know me personally) can see that when they look at my checkered print. But how about comparing me, standing up alone in the street for the rights of half the country’s population while they work long hours at work or even longer hours at home (largely unaware of what I’m doing), to two men standing up behind the rink-side glass in support of just 23 grossly overpaid professional athletes whose job it is to amuse people who can pay excessive amounts to watch them that close? Surely, that detail can’t escape everyone. That’s why it irritates me so much that I overheard a single woman announce that it’s “just like the green guys”. I count my lucky stars that it wasn’t more than one, and that I didn’t hear men saying it either.