Why I Don’t Talk to the Anti’s

In early January, Servalbear did a list of resolutions for herself when escorting.  i admired them.  But I knew right away there was one that wouldn’t work for me.

Servalbear said:

“I will respond with courtesy and politeness when antis greet me or ask me a direct question. Promoting calm and minimizing chaos is the goal. If I need to say “Good Morning” to an anti to start the day on an adult basis, it is okay. I do not have to engage in conversation, but I do not have to abandon all social conventions.”

I already know that approach isn’t going to work for me.  This Saturday reminded me why.

There were a bunch of new people this week ~ apprarently, the Saturday after the anniversary of Roe v Wade is a good time for anti-choice folks to start coming to the clinic.  At my end of the sidewalk, on First Street, there were five or six new chasers, and one woman who’s been coming for a few weeks.

The new ones were all male, and looked like they were in their mid-twenties to early thirties.  Chasing kept them busy for a while as clients came pretty steadily at first.  When things slowed down a bit, they wanted to talk.

Fortunately, D was at that end, and he’s glad to chat with them.  I avoid eye contact, try to look over them, around them, or through them. D is relaxed and comfortable exchanging viewpoints with them.

So they actually sort of circle up around D and have some long conversation about God and the universe.  I’m glad, ’cause if they’re talking to D, they’re not chasing or harassing anyone else.

But after a while that wasn’t enough and one or two of them decide they need to talk to me too.   I always think they must be practicing their missionary skills.  One guy starts by catching my eye and giving me a big smile.

“Hi, what’s your name?” he says.

What’s my name?  Really?

It’s 7:30 on a Saturday morning.  We’re standing on a street corner in 30 degree weather, it’s spitting rain and the wind is blowing off the river, just enough to make it cold, despite my long underwear, two pairs of gloves and hand-warmers, wool socks and furry boots and my big green coat that’s so puffy, if I fell down in it, I probably couldn’t get back up again.

The only reason I’m here – the ONLY reason – is because he and a bunch of people like him feel like they gotta come down here and harass women who have a medical appointment.  And he wants to smile at me like we’re buddies and ask me what my name is????

{Shakes head} Yeah, I don’t think so.

I ignore him.

But he keeps it up, “I’m just asking what your name is,” and another one chimes in, “Were you here last week?  ‘Cause it was really cold last week.”

I walk away.

But a few minutes later, they go through it again, and I think ok, they’re new.  I should go ahead and spell it out for them.

“I don’t talk to protesters,” I say.  “I don’t think y’all belong here, and I don’t have anything to say to you while you are here.  If you wanna talk, we need to be somewhere else.”  And I walk away.   Again.

I ignore the one who wants to give me some “literature” to read.  He offers it to another escort, and I laugh when I hear him say, “It’ll give you something to read if you get bored,” like really, we’re going to get bored out here escorting, and read his pamphlet?   And get converted, I suppose??

Well, ok, yes I suppose that’s exactly what he does think.  And I shake my head, amazed, because he’s the just about the last person I’d listen to when it comes to God or Jesus or the bible, or anything.  But I guess it makes him feel better to think he’s evangelizing us lost lambs.

Now you know that in between all this, there are clients and their companions.  As we walk with the clients up the sidewalk, this little group of men, and the one woman, chase them up the sidewalk, spewing the usual spiels.

We run the gauntlet of pray-ers and of course Donna, who’s standing under the awning with her umbrella open, then we make our way back to the corner.

The new guys group up together, and I walk away from them again.   After a minute, one of them breaks away and follows.  Standing beside me, he starts, “You know, if we’re gonna be out here on the sidewalk together, we might as well buddy up~” and i cut him off laughing, shaking my head,

“No.  We’re not gonna be ‘buddying up’ out here,” i say, and he says,

“Well, now, we don’t have to be buddies…” and i interrupt him again.

“No, we don’t.”  I turn to face him.  “I’ve already said this once, but let me say it one more time.  I don’t talk to youall – I don’t talk to protesters out here.  I don’t think you belong here, and I don’t have anything to say to you.  So this is it.  After this, if you keep talking to me, I just won’t answer.  It won’t matter what you say, I just won’t answer.  Clear?”

And he kind of nods, and that’s it, which is a relief.  I know they’ll try again, but apparently that’s enough for one day.

I hear one of them a few minutes later say to one of the other escorts, “I can’t believe you’re ignoring me, you won’t even talk to me.  It’s like – it’s like – you’re treating me like I’m an insect!”  and I laugh.  Shake my head.

These people are chasing women up the sidewalk, preaching and lecturing them on the way to their doctor appointment, like they got some right to tell any and every woman what to do, and he’s offended – he thinks he’s being mistreated – because we’re ignoring him????  It still makes me laugh a little bit.

And really, the whole thing makes me laugh a little, laugh and shake my head, but not a whole lot.  Because underneath the absurdity and the sidewalk theatre of it all, what really happened today is what happens every day.

They show up selling their beliefs.

We refuse, we tell them we’re not interested, we’re not buying today.  Just like the clients do.

And they keep hawking their wares.

Like the world’s worst vacuum salesman,  forcing one foot in the door, trying to shove their idea of Jesus down my throat.

Trying to tell people what life decisions to make, how to handle whatever is going on in their lives, without being asked, without having any idea what the particular circumstances are.  Trying to insist their words and their choices be accepted, while refusing to listen, refusing to hear, refusing to honor other people’s words, other people’s choices and needs.

Yeah.  That’s why I don’t have anything to say to them out there.

11 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Talk to the Anti’s

  1. “I hear one of them a few minutes later say to one of the other escorts, “I can’t believe you’re ignoring me, you won’t even talk to me. It’s like – it’s like – you’re treating me like I’m an insect!”

    He’d be a mosquito wanting your blood instead of your submission.

  2. Pingback: I’ve Been Too Nice | Biodork

  3. @biodork and oubli,

    See, this is one of the things I love about escorts and escorting – exact same scenario, exact opposite reactions. Kescort thinks we should get the the antis to read the FACE act, biodork, you agree, oubli, you disagree, and servalbear weighs in with a vote against it. All for legitimate reasons.

    I think it would be interesting if they did read it, but am pretty sure they’re not going to change their minds anymore than I am. And I enjoy the discussion among ourselves.

    fml

    • FWIW – They took the copies of the NARAL synopsis FACE ACT I had printed. Will they read it? I think so. Will it change their minds? I doubt it. Will it change their behavior? It has, on the rare occasion, in the past. We will see…

      • Well, that’s cool, I guess. I hope it has some good results, but I’m not dreadfully optimistic.

  4. Hand it out? Oh no, that would require interacting with them, which is what they want. If I was the Escort Coordinator I would print the FACE Act on a *huge*, waterproof sign and post it in front of the clinic, so they have to face the law every day! It would also be handy for the passerbys to see and the police if they are ever needed to be called in.

    Then again I’m the kinda lady who would paint a thick colorful line on the sidewalk marking how far is too far and call the cops on them every time they pranced their anti-choice butts across it. I would videotape it also (post some security cameras, maybe), so you can show the judge that these people have crossed the line 647, 925 times, they no sense of the law or common decency. Too many of these battles come down to escorts and anti-choicers “he said, she said” in court but videos tapes of persistent illegal activity with a written notice of the law on site would give the judge no choice but to side with the clinic.

    How Is Standing In A Driveway Not Impeding Access?
    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/01/27/how-is-standing-in-driveway-not-impeding-access

    • Oubli,

      Most of the antis would not accept anything we tried to hand to them. It is best to not interact to minimize the chaos. I read the article about the protester in Denver and was disappointed in the judge’s decision, but without video tape it is hard to prove which side is telling the truth. Our clinic has motion activated cameras and Kescort is always taking short videos of antis misbehaving. We should have hours of video documentation plus daily logs.

      Thanks,
      Servalbear

  5. Kescort –

    Thanks! It is hard not to get sucked in – I have to really watch myself.

    As for taking their book and reading it – if you think that’s going to help in some way, go for it. I don’t think anybody’s mind is getting changed down there, but that’s just me. 🙂

    I’m glad you liked the post!

    fml

  6. Awesome, just outstanding! What a great capture of what it’s like with those people. Too often, I get sucked in to their conversations. But like D, if it keeps them from chasing and harassing clients and companions, then it is time well spent.

    FWIW, I took one of their little booklets and read it. It is the same trite drivel we have been hearing for years. But I feel it now gives me the currency to hand them a copy of the FACE Act and expect them to read it. I’m so silly that way.

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