At Ease With Themselves ~ by SharkSandwich

Do you ever come across someone and almost immediately you’re able to ascertain what kind of person they might be? In the case of vile people, the person in question wears such a thin, affected veil that it’s simply not possible to ignore the wolf’s fangs jutting out from underneath the ill-fitting sheep’s wool.

On Saturday, my second day volunteering as an escort, I had the occasion to get acquainted with such an individual. And by “acquainted,” I mean to say I was berated with raving projections of racism and sexism from an older male anti that were completely devoid of irony. Irony, after all, would denote some semblance of humanity and humor, and the man who verbally dug into me may have misplaced the remaining specks of his humanity quite some time ago.

It’s really a surreal experience to stand silently and withstand someone’s verbal abuse. To respond would be to validate it, and I don’t necessarily want to dignify this man with my attention. Simultaneously, though, it’s really goddamn difficult to simply absorb that abuse with complete grace. You practically need SEAL-level Psy Ops defense training to absorb the abuse without so much as flinching (or incredulously smirking, as it were). I am not so flawless in my disposition.

I had typed out a somewhat detailed account of my misguided interactions with “Gone” (as in, that’s where his marbles are), but I’ve already dignified his piggish remarks too much in my own thoughts, so I’m not going to publicize them here. Omitted, though, are Gone’s sexist and racist slobberings, Gone giving me his most spirited Yosemite Sam impression (minus the 50-gallon hat), his fetish for imagining the escorts as puppy-murderers and his smug fixation with calling me a “weasel” – whatever the fuck that means.

Although my interaction with Gone was brief, thankfully a fellow escort gently redirected me, suggesting that I maybe should refrain from responding to Gone because it just encouraged him. My fellow escort was right. Interacting with Gone was like dealing with a tantrum-happy 8-year-old, so I silenced myself for good. Of course, rabbits and pigeons inside of a Skinner box would probably have reached the extinction point of an unreinforced behavior sooner than Gone did, but whatever. Eventually, he left me alone so he could go harass other people.

Later, Gone sought me out again after I had moved to another location, where he resumed his verbal derision. More name-calling, more overtly cartoonish outbursts. It’s as if you could see that he wanted to actually use cuss words at us and shout really disgusting, profane things in our faces. However, him using such language could also run a risk of possibly being perceived by his fellow antis as a gutter-dwelling sinner like us escorts, and he wouldn’t dare do that. Appearances, as I’m quickly learning about antis, always trumps integrity.

Observing Gone – and in disturbingly close proximity – I was reminded of how racists will kind of just clam up whenever they really want to express their prejudices to people in public, but also are terrified of being alienated for being an unforgivable bigot. Instead of taking that risk, they keep the racism to themselves, and most people around them erroneously assume these closeted racists are actually decent people. The racist’s desperate need for social connection at least keeps the racist behavior at bay (for the most part).

(Hell, the way Gone expertly furrows his brow when he’s trying to provoke us with his dumb insults, I got the impression he’d feel right at home among a mob of white racists assaulting civil rights activists 60 years ago. He either rehearses that delivery in the bathroom mirror every morning, or he’s just been this hateful for a long time. Either way, that kind of hate is a well-polished hatred.)

After our escort work wrapped up that morning, I continued to think about Gone and the other antis I witnessed harassing people outside the clinic. Unsurprisingly, the men are almost always the loudest, as is the wont of men. But more than being loud and trying to infringe upon the space of women, it also became apparent to me that they likely enjoy yelling mean-spirited insults at women because this sidewalk is probably one of the few places these antis are guaranteed to not receive any swift retaliation for their misogyny. Because we escorts (ideally) refuse to interact with them, the escorts – along with the patients we escort – thereby become very available outlets for these anti men (and women, too) to openly unleash their misogyny without fear of punishment.

It’s one thing to call a cashier at Target a genocidal whore when you’re vulnerable to immediate public judgment – nobody’s going to put up with that bilious slander, you know? But here at the clinic sidewalk, it’s as if the antis know they’re mostly invulnerable to retaliation, and therefore have no hesitation saying these terrible things that they genuinely do believe.

In fact, I have a hard time believing they actually care about fetuses, children, or even abortion’s alleged health risks to women (despite their transparent doom-sayings to women as they walk into the clinic). I doubt they really even care about divine judgment. Of the few that may actually be protesting for truly religious reasons, they’re only here to save their own asses from the threat of damnation.

These people – and specifically, these men – are only interested in themselves and their shared hatred of women. They may arrive at that destination via different avenues, but the final conclusion is uniform. The antis even appear to delight in being able to no longer conceal their hatred of women. That they can openly use that hate to taunt the escorts outside of the clinic without repercussions must feel like a bonus Christmas morning to them.

For the antis, the sidewalk outside of the clinic becomes a space where they no longer need to bother with the sheep’s disguise so as to pass and be accepted by the public. They know the two consequences keeping their hateful inclinations at bay in the general world – being ostracized from society, physical harm from the immediately offended – have been temporarily removed, so what have they got to lose?

As a result, the sidewalk has become for them a place where they are comfortable being their true selves: not Christians, not conservatives, not voters, and not crusaders.

They’re just really, really mean people who care only about themselves.

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PSA for EMW Clients

If you see this sign, do not park in this lot

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It is the anti-parking lot.  

And it’s time for Pledge-a-Picketer!

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You know how it works, right? You pledge so much for each protester who shows up, we count the protesters, and the more of them there are, the more money we raise for escorts {vests, training costs, and other miscellany} and abortion access.

Make your pledge here.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1xbxdKkjOSsfRnLlCBo86dIVqBHtyntmA-GKLW9QT_I4/viewform

 

Hiatus

We’ve been reading other people’s blogs for a long time. There seems to come a time when some or all of the authors feel the need for a break from writing. The Every Saturday Morning contributors are feeling the need for a break now.

There is still so much to explore and write about concerning reproductive justice, abortion access, clinic escorts and our little patch of the sidewalk.

We have many loyal readers and we will miss all of your thoughtful comments. You are all part of our community and we hope you will continue the discussions when we return. We will make our needed break as short as possible.

Thank you for understanding.

Rethinking Rainy Days

Rainy days are usually a challenge for escorts. There always seem to be a lot of antis who like to come out and carry their umbrellas. We dodge the pointy accessories as much as we can, but it can involve tricky maneuvering.

It was pouring down rain one morning recently. Escorts had on their raincoats, rain pants and ponchos. It was surprising to see D as the only anti there for almost 30 minutes and she was sitting in her car.

We were able to approach three cars without any interference before 715a. Then we got really lucky and the doors to the clinic were opened early. They were opened as a kindness to the clients so they wouldn’t have to wait in the rain. The added bonus was we were able to bring more than half of the clients for the day into the lobby before the other antis showed up with their umbrellas.

There were 11 antis there without much to do since we had been able to do so much escorting before they even got out of their cars. Of course there were the usual speeches from the regulars, but it was actually funny to watch them lower their umbrellas to stand under the overhang. They grouped around under the overhang talking to each other and trying to engage escorts.

Then they would see a client and raise their umbrellas and start off. We just walked out into the rain and met the clients first.

I may have to revise my thinking about rainy days. They are not so bad after all.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {11/11/13}

Escorts hear this a lot, but this morning was such a clear example of what the antis believe about choice I wanted to share.

The antis always come out armed with pamphlets to give to the clients and companions. When you go into the clinic lobby any morning, frequently these pamphlets that were thrust into their hands are scattered on the floor; left behind because they were unwanted.

This morning an escort followed a client inside of the lobby to answer a question. While they were there, the client handed them the pamphlet that had just been shoved towards them as they crossed the property line. Three antis were watching the escort and client from the property line as they talked. They were closely lined up to get a clear vision through the the glass door. D said, “I knew it. Did you see that?”

When the escort came out, they stood at the entrance and ripped the pamphlet up. Trainee (fully trained now) said, “You have just destroyed her opportunity to make a choice. You are not giving her a choice.”

Really? As if the choice wasn’t made and that one pamphlet was the key to making a decision? What about their choice to not have the pamphlet? If the client had wanted to read it, they would have kept it. If they hadn’t made their decision before reaching the sign-in window of the clinic, I’m sure one pamphlet wouldn’t have made up their mind either.

The antis constantly berate escorts about their definition of “choice.” They seem to have a different meaning for the word than we do.

That Morning ~ by RMM

Since I’ve been really little, conversations concerning pro-life and pro-choice have been big topics. My mom has always been pro-choice and would always share her opinion, but more importantly, she always told me that the choice was mine. That she would tell me many things throughout my childhood, but in no way did I have to follow in her footsteps.

Volunteering at the clinic all started because a girl at my school had put up a status on Facebook talking about this coming weekend being a big weekend because it was Easter Sunday, and that the more volunteers they had, the more smoothly the process would go for women trying to make it to the clinic. I had never volunteered before, heck I never even knew where the clinic was at.  (Even though I passed it almost every day to go to my bus stop after school). So, I convinced my mom (and more importantly myself) to wake up on a summer morning at 5 am and catch a cab down to the clinic.

This experience was a while ago, but I can say I will never forget how it went. I remember getting down there and everyone was so nice. My friend had told me all you had to do was look for the people in the orange vests and they were the people to talk to. It all started with me and my mom explaining that we had never done this before, but that I had for a long time been interested in helping out (also the idea of breakfast after was a plus too.)

A woman gave us two of her vests and told us to take our place at the side of the clinic. I remember it wasn’t even 6 am and protesters already started lining up. Some that I remember the most was an older gentlemen that had a cross statue. Now the funny thing to me was that the base for holding the cross was larger than the actual cross. I also remember a woman that had a flag of the Virgin Mary hanging from a frame she had made from PVC pipe. And of course, the most prominent person I remember was a woman that stood right at the front against the volunteers preaching from her Bible; so loud that the women already inside the doors could hear her.

Now don’t take what I’m saying as a bashing of Christians, Catholics, any religion for that matter. I’ve always been a strong supporter of respecting all religions, even if I don’t personally believe them. But I would say I definitely wasn’t prepared for the amount of protesters. While mentally I can’t understand how another woman will tell another woman that she doesn’t have the right over her own body, that’s my opinion. I would also say that the experience was a definite eye opener for me. I can’t even imagine the stress and fear that the women coming to that clinic feel. Being yelled at by people that they are killing their baby or sinning in the eyes of God. For all of you know, the women walking through those doors could be Catholic or Christian themselves. And it kills them to be doing something that their religion tells them is wrong and will send them to hell.

I’m glad that I came, and I really hope that I can do it again, although over the school year the weekend is my time to sleep, not wake up at 5 am. But you will be seeing me again, and I hope the next time I’ll learn something new.

I Rally for Reproductive Rights Because…

We have written about the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights this coming Saturday, November 2, a couple of times this past month. We are excited that so many groups are coming together to make Kentucky voices heard.

Fml wrote an article last week that details the four key points of reproductive rights the ralliers want to focus on with speeches, stories, signs and our presence in Frankfort. They are:

  1. Comprehensive Sex Education

  2. Contraception Access

  3. Access to Abortion Services

  4. Family Support Services

As part of the preparation for the rally, there have been photos made of supporters holding a white board. The beginning statement of the white board is “I rally for reproductive rights because…” and the person being photographed completes the sentence in their own words. You can see them here

They are powerful statements and I wish I could have added my photo to those gathered. A concise ending to the sentence escaped me every time I tried to compose one. My problem was I couldn’t focus on just one of the four points that was more important to me, or distill the experience of a lifetime into one sentence.

Of course, I am making it more difficult than it needs to be. I could have used four white boards. However, I have found myself thinking about the four points more and more as we approach the rally date. All four points have and do touch my life in many ways.

You would think because I escort that point 3 would be the natural point for me to write a statement. Then I think about point 4 and the need for family support for parents of children already here. Then I think about point 1 and what I want for my friends and family members. Then I think about point 2 and how it relates to point 3. Then I think about point 4…and the circle goes around in my mind.

In the end, I decided to support all of the statements others have written.

How would you complete your white board? What is your main focus? (Send your own white board photos via email to info@kyroadrally.org)

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. Are you coming with us?

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {10/28/13}

The doors weren’t open yet when escorts by the door were approached by a man coming from AWC. We hadn’t seen him on the sidewalk before, but he was very polite and said, “I work for AWC and I just wanted to know about you escorts. Why are you here?”

My response was, “I do not talk to protesters. If you want to find out about escorts ask D or read our blog at everysaturdaymorning.net. We explain why we are here there.” “But I am not protesting, I just want to understand.” I pointed out D and repeated my statement about the blog.

He did wander over and talk to D for a few minutes. Then he approached an escort further down the sidewalk who hadn’t heard the exchange between us. We watched a minute while he was talking to the escort, then I approached them.

“This gentleman works for AWC and is trying to find out why we are here. I have directed him to our blog.”

The escort responded, “I suspected as much, but he didn’t tell me he was with AWC.” The conversation between them after that was very short.

Misrepresenting himself to an escort isn’t the end of the world, but it is indicative of a particular mindset that the antis learn very fast to just lie to get what they want.

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. That’s this Saturday! Are you coming with us?

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

Bad People

We talk once in awhile about how the antis will bring their children out as props. This morning we had a family group of grandparents and two grandchildren under the age of four.

It was one of the cooler mornings we have had this fall, with the temperature around 42 degrees. Of course, it is usually colder on the sidewalk in front of the clinic because of the taller buildings, proximity to the riverfront and all of that concrete.

The grandparents parked halfway down the block and walked the children to the clinic doors wrapped in blankets. One of them was carrying a babydoll wrapped in the blanket with them.

As they passed the clinic entrance the grandfather pointed out the escorts to the older child and said, “These are all bad people.” The child’s eyes got large as they watched us when walking past.

They continued on towards AWC where the other antis greeted them and talked to the children. They are the good people, evidently.

A short time later, the grandfather walked back holding the older child’s hand and stood facing me from about one foot away; trying to stare me down for Jesus I guess because he didn’t say a word to me.  After a minute, the child looked up and saw me. She said, “Uh oh. She’s bad,” while pulling away from her grandfather. He led her away; point made.

They lingered a little while longer until the children got tired and started sitting on the planter box of the clinic.

My heart went out to the child who was frightened by the “bad people.”

Just another day of observing the teaching of intolerance and hatred on the sidewalk.

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. That’s one week from today! Are you coming with us? Can you contribute $5 or more to help make it happen?

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {10/21/13}

We frequently see clients and companions respond to the words spoken by the antis. Sometimes they respond with politeness to the questions the antis ask them. Sometimes they respond with their own biblical quotes to counter what the anti is saying. Sometimes they respond with well-thought out responses for the questions the antis bring up. Sometimes they respond with emotional pleas to just listen to them. Sometimes they respond with anger. Sometimes they respond with tears. Sometimes they respond with sarcasm. Frequently, it is a combination of several of these approaches.

One morning we had a client who responded with all of these approaches. The client had been to the clinic earlier in the week and heard all of the things the antis normally say. D particularly gave them a hard time. This time they had thought about their responses and were ready and eager to confront the antis, especially D.

The client and their companions arrived about 30 minutes before the doors of the clinic opened. They went immediately to the door because the client wanted to talk to D. The next 30 minutes in front of the clinic were confrontational, chaotic, sad and upsetting. Some of the words and actions of the client were purposely shocking even to escorts. After all, she had a couple of days to think about what they had said to her before. The client’s words and actions served the purpose of causing all but one anti to back away from her and leave her alone. D retreated early, but was still talking about it to other antis 3 days afterwards.

Two things stand out in my mind from the morning.

One was the client’s response to, “Have you considered adoption?” The reply was, “What? Do you want me to spend the rest of my life asking every child I pass on the street, “Are you my baby? Are you?” I don’t think so.”

The other thing that stands out was the waves of hurt and anger in equal parts coming from the client. She was vocal about being angry and hurt for being judged and shamed by the antis without knowing her or her story.

An escort spoke to her after she went into the clinic to make sure she was okay. She was pleased she was able to speak up for herself, but was still upset the antis even thought they had a right to question her and her decision, let alone film her as she waited by the door. The escort explained the policy of public sidewalks and filming, but it still isn’t right to invade her privacy so completely.

I’ll be thinking about this client for a long time.

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. Are you coming with us? Can you contribute $5 or more to help make it happen?

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

Good Cop vs Bad Cop ~ by Eeyore

Recently I was standing by the door at the clinic when Tim arrived. He cupped his hands to his face, as he is wont to do, and stood for a few moments before starting his spiel (sometimes he’ll stand like that for over a minute – I’ve timed him – with his hands at his face not speaking, I guess waiting for divine inspiration. It’s creepy, like he just turns off for a bit). It went pretty much along these lines . . .

“Mothers, we aren’t here to judge you, we are here to help you. We can help with your bills, we have a beautiful maternity home that you can stay in for three years for free. And men who are in there, you are sitting next to a murderer. You are with a woman who is going to murder her baby.”

Did you notice that subtle shift in message? Yeah, me too. Part of me wanted to walk up and tell him that just because he addressed the last bit to men doesn’t mean women’s ears stopped working. Or maybe he thinks saying men switches everything to a masculine frequency that women can’t hear. Sorry Tim, that’s not how ears work. The woman you wanted to trust in this offer of loving, non-judgmental kindness just heard you call her a murderer in literally the next sentence. See, right there, that’s you judging her. So now she knows you’re a liar and rarely do people look to liars for counsel.

It’s not an uncommon experience on the sidewalk. If a client approaches from a distance and a protestor gloms on, they will often start with the “we are here to help, we just want to love you, god loves you” rhetoric. About half way to the clinic the talk turns to a pleading whimper saying “don’t murder your baby, you know it’s wrong, mommy don’t kill me”. As the client turns the corner to enter the clinic the anti’s frustration breaks and the damnation and shaming spews forth “don’t do this, god will punish you in the fires of hell, don’t make this baby pay for your mistakes”.

The thing is, you can’t play both sides by yourself. That’s why in TV shows where they’re doing the good cop/bad cop routine there’s always TWO cops. Working alone would make a person look insincere at best. The person being questioned by good/bad cop won’t trust him, the audience won’t trust him. All of his words and deeds have become suspect.

I’ve often been amazed that the anti’s don’t see something so obvious and focus on one message at a time.Why not just stick with playing the good cop routine? It would probably have better results. I think that in their minds, though, they’re never playing bad cop. Love and punishment, help and judgment, sex and shame all go hand in hand. To them it’s all the same message.

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. Are you coming with us? Can you contribute $5 or more to help make it happen?

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/