Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is This Really Being Pro-Choice & Supportive of Women? (Or Rather How Not To Hold a Protest)

Yesterday while surfing Twitter, I came across the following pro-choice blog, AbortionChat where they are discussing protests of CPCs (or Crisis Pregnancy Centers) and I'd like to discuss a few thoughts on this...
Two weeks ago, a group of people stood outside a Crisis Pregnancy Center holding signs that said, "Come Talk to Me!" "Your Body, Your Choice!" "We Support You" and "Honk if You Love Choice!  
Here are their reflections:  
What was your objective today? Do you feel like you accomplished it?  
Damien: I was there to support women's rights and my girlfriend, so yes. I think I accomplished those goals.
Jennifer: My objective was to express my feelings about being ProChoice, and I feel like I did accomplish that.  
Echo: My objective was to talk to people and give out more information about how crisis centers like the one we were at are giving out false information and lying by omniscient [sic-omission]. I feel like we accomplished a lot, we talked to a couple people and got 100+ honks!  
Nicholas: See a protest, not really
Put into context, I think it's pretty clear the "choice" they're talking about is abortion rights. Crisis pregnancy centers offer options counseling which discourages clients from choosing abortion (nor do they provide nor give referrals for abortions), but they do focus on having a healthy pregnancy and parenting/adoption and offer practical and emotional support for pregnant and parenting women; however there are those who strongly feel CPCs should be more "pro-choice" and include politically correct information on abortion and abortion referrals and there are many who feel CPCs shoud be shut down. However, this is where I feel pro-choicers are missing the point of being "pro-choice" when they're so wrapped up in advocating abortion rights, they're either criticizing or ignoring the need for (emotional and practical) support for pregnant and parenting women in poverty.
While I usually think it's cool for a guy to support his girlfriend in her beliefs, I don't in this endeaver, as I believe his presence is for the wrong reasons. While feminists are largely changing their views on whether or not the women's partner should have imput on pregnancy decisions for the most part men are still largely excluded and shunned by mainstream feminism. With that said, one could view this guy as standing up for men to not be able to give imput into the decision, when they're affected to a degree as well. However on the flip side, there are also many men who favor abortion rights for the sole reason avoid the responsibility of pregnancy/parenting.
 Was the protest what you expected?  
Damien: ::Shrug:: Yes, except we didn't get that many people to stop talk and talk  
Jennifer: The protest was what I thought, except with less people  
Echo: Not at all. I thought there were going to be other people there, but I'm glad it was just us. It was a very chill first experience, which was nice.  
Nicholas: No there was no one else
Hmm, so not a lot of pro-choicers turned out to protest, must not be a big priority on their activism list.
When people came up to talk, what was your reaction?  
Damien: No one came up to talk to me, I'm not going to lie. When they came up to Nick, I wanted to know what they wanted to find out. I'd go over and listen to everyone else's opinion. I also wanted to make sure that the people approaching us weren't going to start a confrontation.  
Jennifer: I was surprised that they were all males.  
Echo: Nobody directly came to talk to me, which is probably a good thing, but I was glad that people stopped to talk about what we were protesting for.  
Nicholas: Hello.  
Somehow I'm not surprised there were a lot of males, as there seem to be two reasons men support abortion rights 1)To blindly support their partner, in whatever it is she wants or needs and the more common reason I've pointed out above 2) There are many men who support abortion rights for the sake of avoiding responsibility for the pregnancy/situation they've created.
What was your favorite part about the protest?  
Damien: Supporting my girlfriend. And all the honks!  
Jennifer: Hula hooping! And getting beeps!  
Echo: My favorite part was hula hooping, and the woman coming out to talk to us.  
Nicholas: Hula hooping  
Wow, hula-hooping and honks, doesn't sound like a very productive protest (lack of meaningful dialouge), maybe more for attention-seeking than anything. This compares more to the stereotypical protests expected of pro-lifers with gory abortion photos, yelling, and flashy display; this contrasts to the truely meaningful sidewalk counseling done by pro-lifers at abortion clinics by groups such as Gabriel Project, where there aren't gory photos being displayed, nor yelling of condemnation, rather they seek to have meaningful dialouge and help women connect with resources in their community to help meet their socio-ecomic needs through pregnancy and beyond.
What was your least favorite part?  
Damien: People flipping us off.  
Jennifer: Standing, and the wind.  
Echo: My least favorite thing was the people driving by and saying rude stuff to us. 
Nicholas: I forgot deodorant  
Do you realize others face this everyday in standing up for their political and religious convictions in other countries and even here in the U.S. for having differing beliefs.
Do you think you'll protest again? 
Damien: Mmm hmm. (Yes)  
Jennifer: Yes!  
Echo: I totally want to protest again! Bringing the hula hoops every time!  
Nicholas: Depends on the topic  
Did anything that happened make you think differently about being ProChoice?  
Damien: No. 
Jennifer: No. 
Echo: Nothing made me think differently about it. I was surprised at how many people honked for us! The ProChoice side isn't really publicized very much, so I didn't realize how many people were actually on our side.  
Nicholas: No my natural choice is valid and accepted currently  
Contrary to what Echo believes, the mainstream media is largely either pro-choice or neutral on the issue and the pro-choice view is often published in both editorials and articles on the anniversary of Roe v Wade and when a significant pro-choice protest occurs or anti-abortion extremist act of violence.
How do you think you can improve the next protest?  
Damien: Try to get more people, both to protest and to approach us. I'd also like to give more of my opinion.  
Jennifer: Better signs, and wind holes so it doesn't feel like the signs are going to get ripped out of our hands.  
Echo: I think making more signs would probably be a good idea, but overall I think we did awesome!  
Nicholas: BBQ  
Maybe having a table with literature and posters supporting your view with factual information and figures from non-biased sources and presenting actual opportunities for dialouge would be a good start if you actually wanted to get serious.
What did you learn from today's protest?  
Damien: Not everyone supports our beliefs. I mean, I already knew it, but people flipping us off, shaking their heads no for holding a sign saying, "Your Body, Your Choice," it's kind of messed up.  
Jennifer: I learned that people actually care. And that you should make wind holes in your signs so they don't try to bubble up.  
Echo: I learned that people are a lot more open minded than I thought.  
Nicholas: Do what thou wilt
No, it's not "messed up," part of the beauty of living in this country is people are allowed free speech and access to wide variety of information, leading to people to think for themselves, and they have the right to have their own view point, even if you don't agree with them.
Do you think the protest made anyone think differently? Did you help make change today?  
Damien: I don't know, maybe not think differently but shed some light on people supporting women's rights.  
Maybe it brightened the women's days who drove by us. Jennifer: YES! I feel like we helped make change today.  
Echo: There was one guy and his daughter that Lynne talked to for awhile. I hope she (Lynne) opened his mind to different options. I helped Jen hula hoop, so that was my contribution!  
Nicholas: Yes i made a pretty funny video on the way, and got some great giggles out of it. Highlight of my trip.
Again, doesn't sound like a very productive or meaningful protest, just a sidewalk show. I'll close with this thought: It's easy to be an activist and spout political rhetoric, hold signs, and hola-hoop, but the real challenge is in doing the legwork to support these women in navigating their options and the socio-economic challenges they face.

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