Monday, January 23, 2017

March for Women

This weekend was a hell of a weekend. Obama is out. Trump is in. Women marched all over the world. Crowd sizes are in dispute, but not really.

And the world suddenly knows that pro-life feminists exist. We are here! We are here! We are here! We are here! YOP! 

I have been sorting through my thoughts and emotions with respect to the march with a tinge of regret. This was a great moment in history unfolding relatively close to me, geographically. I did not go. 

I was considering attendance, but waffling about feasibility when all the sudden this crazy thing happened: an openly pro-life organization was granted partnership. The New Wave Feminists are an adorably quirky bunch. I would feel like the class nerd hanging out with them. And besides, our politics do not match up very well. They are Texas libertarians who are apparently also anti-abortion and feminist. But the fact that they were included officially was exciting! This march was all set to be show real unity across a slew of diverse opinions on diverse issues. Whatever you believe politically, we can agree that women deserve better. 

But the media go wind of this interesting alliance. Then Twitter. A twittering mob decried the inclusion. Pro-lifers do not belong. Pro-lifers are not us. And to my chagrin, the leadership caved to pressure and disinvited the New Wave Feminists. 

To be honest, at that point I still didn't see any good reason not to go. I mean, so what if the leadership is pro-choice? That shocks exactly no one. But it got worse. The leaders of the march pandered to their largest partners. Of course the pro-lifers shouldn't be here. Pro-lifers aren't real feminists. If they decide to march they should march with the knowledge that they are marching for a woman's right to choose. They're so stupid they might just do that. “If you want to come to the march you are coming with the understanding that you respect a woman’s right to choose,” said parade organizer Linda Sarsour.

The media was watching. This was a huge progressive event. It was international. And now the story includes me, explicitly. Pro-life feminists were interviewed by many major media. The New York Times cited a statistic that one in six of the women who voted for Hillary oppose abortion. People were talking about us. The pro-life right was angry. They think they own the issue. They know that without a perception of ownership they will lose elections. The pro-choice left, I think, was mostly confused. Some were angry, to be sure. But most just seemed surprised. 

If I went to the march, I'd feel dishonest. I could go with a sign which made my anti-abortion views clear, but that would feel like a counter-protest. I didn't think I could find the right balance. I do not want to be perceived as protesting a protest which I support. I do not want to be counted as pro-choice America. I was so angry. Pro-life women belong at that rally! But no in opposition. We should stand shoulder to shoulder opposing misogyny and bigotry. We are watching, Mr. President. We will not be quiet. 

In the lead up, a friend asked me if I would let Planned Parenthood march in the March for Life. My initial reaction was of course. Of course they should be allowed to march in opposition to abortion if they want to. They wouldn't want to, but if they did I wouldn't just allow it, I'd cheer! 

I still think that. But I would worry. What is their motivation? Is it an alliance or an infiltration? Would they be joining to join or to change the agenda? Liz lead me by the nose to the realization that the exclusion wasn't crazy, even though it stung. Even though by the numbers it is inarguable that democrats would do better if they didn't shut us out. Even though I wanted to be there. The pro-life movement has a nice long history of secret videos, infiltration, spying, and to our great shame even violence. 

Pro-lifers did go. They grouped in several contingents. Life Matters Journal showed up with a few dozen signs which, to my mind, tried to balance support for the march with opposition to abortion. And to the surprise of no one except the pro-life right, they were received kindly. People were glad they came. Building bridges, one incredible feminist to another. 

Students for Life did not aim for balance. They chose to rally in what can only be described as a counter-protest. They positioned themselves at the front of the march for maximum exposure and unfurled a huge sign which read, "Abortion Betrays Women." That is exactly what I did not want. They were absolutely not marching with the rest of the women. They did not join the march; they attempted to hijack it. Which is exactly what the people calling for their exclusion said they would do. Which is why they were excluded. And incredibly, they were not well received. People were angry. People even yelled at them, if you can imagine. Burn them bridges! They took to social media to tell the world how awful the feminists were. Awful. Just hateful. I mean, we picked a fight and they fought back! Jerks. Burn those bridges!

Real talk: I wanted to be there, but I didn't want to go. I hate crowds. I hate the metro. I was afraid I would have a panic attack and no where to go to calm down. Everywhere was going to be packed. I was afraid. Was the hullabaloo it a reason not to go? Was it only an excuse? Excuse or reason, I decided to stay home. And though I am sure I will have pangs of regret for years, I think it was the right choice for me. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey Beth! I love this post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this! I am the one in 6 pro-lifers who voted for Hillary, and I really feel that I can be a pro-life liberal. I am following my heart and my conscience and listening to God's voice in all this and feel good about my position. We took the boys to our local march and it was so wonderful! I was so inspired and moved. It made me feel like more people are appalled by our new president than in support of him, and that helped me so much to see that. I felt so proud of all the people in our community who were at the march--all ages, genders, super diverse in every way. It was a peaceful, beautiful event. We were surrounded by light and goodness. Many people from our church went as well. I can't stand how the conservative right claims that they are the true pro-lifers. I feel very pro-life--support for the unborn, the poor, the immigrant, the marginalized, the people with disabilities, the refugee, children, women, the whole picture. Etc Etc! I know you know this is how the pro-life liberal feels. Anyway, I felt like it was the right move for us to go to the march and I am so glad I went. It helped to mend my broken political heart and I am glad we could stand up for what we feel so strongly in our hearts. I saw a sign that just moved me to tears for some reason. It said, "I am my sister's keeper" and I thought yes, isn't that a beautiful way to live, having a responsibility to our sisters and to all humankind really. I am my brother and my sister's keeper. Anyway, love your thoughts! I feel weird that the organizers tried to exclude pro-lifers, but your example of those who tried to hijack the event with their own message--well, it makes sense why pro-lifers would be excluded. We saw several pro-life signs (covering the whole pro-life spectrum) and I definitely felt like I belonged there at the march. Lots of love to you and your family!