Today was the first time at the clinic; truthfully the first time being on the battlefront of a sidewalk battle that has its own palpable lines. There are two bunches; in which one is easily identified by the wearing of orange vests with ‘clinic escort’ printed on it and the other having something in their hand, either a bible, rosary beads or signs that one can easily determine being about anti-abortion.
That’s what people would see. Easily for one to interpret from the obvious clues, relying on their own worldview, putting the label of ‘bad’ or ‘good’ on either group.
I see more.
Due to not being able to hear, I rely furthermore on the other senses, especially vision. I’m aware of the surroundings, the shadows and lights upon the environment; the subtle movements of muscle; the posing of body signals; and the nuances of facial and body expression that are overlooked for the sake of tone and context of verbal language.
Before today, I knew I had an advantage of not being able to hear what antis repeatedly say to clients or escorts, with using the weapon of verbal abuse, and that would benefit me greatly during the time.
I was wrong. I had more assets than I thought.
What I mean by that is I noticed how each of the groups presented themselves in their own borders; how one group was mechanic and cold, stuck in its own echo, while the other group looked at each other as human beings, with warmth and fortitude.
Let me describe how I observed that in many instances today.
I was standing at the boundary of the clinic, in which antis are not allowed to go across, so they are everywhere within the peripheral range, mostly. They appear unapproachable, having a robotic, blank expression on their faces- eventually reminding me of the movie, “I, Robot”, the scene at a warehouse where you see a row of robots, still, silent and waiting for activation. They, like the robots in the movie, come alive, when clients are spotted in a distance, on a route that leads them to the clinic. That is when I noticed the desperation.
Desperate to be heard. Desperate to turn the client away from their decision, their human right to choose for themselves. One can observe the frenzy in the hurried pace of the antis, the anxious tension in the body, and the fierce menace in their faces. Even when the clients got safely away into the clinic, some antis stood in front of me and other escorts, invading into personal space. Desperation in their faces, staring at the closed clinic doors, and then the faces were then wiped blank before turning around to look upon their own members, assuming a semi-cheerful mask, with hints of coldness. Quite distorting when one watches.
The unheard shouting, the echoing statements, familiar to escorts, yet nothing to me. I can see their mouths babbling, but I understood nothing they were saying. Some targeted the escort next to me, all because they noticed she was able to hear. I watched the anti Donna talking to the escort, while avoiding eye contact with me. Pretending that I wasn’t existing just because they determined I couldn’t hear them. Their body messages so revealing, not worth their time, no sense in practicing browbeating antics on me. So from this perception, I drew that they are pretty much bullies living in righteous illusion, throwing their strength around, in a sense of giving themselves a futile sense of purpose. Take away the purpose of protesting, who are they then? Hence, their desperation exists.
On the other side, on the escorts’ side, there’s warmth. Amiable chatter, even when I don’t understand what was said, I can still pick up the sincerity in the face muscles, the affection between escorts. To empower us all, they got someone who can sign, ensuring that we all were able to talk. Welcoming friendship, unconditional. Reassuring and nonjudgmental in the relaxation of the body. The subtle nuance of genuineness in their movements. I noticed some escorts expressed concern yet giving space when clients seek shelter, pretty much like mother hens. Protective postures, sheltering the clients in an intense pace, pretty much a shot of flame through a cold tunnel, its unwelcome aura and reproaching echoes.
Being deaf, hence having a different language, different in human experience, the escorts distinguished me as a human being, a person of my own. Despite the limited communication, smiles were given to link humanity. Efforts to communicate through signing, paper and texting were their effort to say to the world, You’re here. I see you. The very same unspoken message they say to each client seeking a safe path to the clinic.
And that’s the difference between the antis and escorts from a deaf volunteer- and I can tell you safely, that’s what clients also pick up on when they are at their most vulnerable. That’s what we look for, to be recognized for who we are, during our most vulnerable moments, to be reminded we’re human beings with a right to our own choices.
Wow, a truly interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing your unique observations about this entire other form of communication that those with hearing often miss.
What a great post! It is amazing that when you strip away the outer ugly verbal layer there is more ugliness rather than love and compassion underneath.
Your observations are so powerful, opening up a whole new world for us. Thank you for sharing your perspective – what a wonderful asset you are on the sidewalk!
You’re welcome, iamskeletor! It’s always a pleasure to share the visual world of silence with others, an enriching experiment in its own.
That was incredible, Wolfers. I really, REALLY hope you will write for this blog again!
I’ve noticed in the videos here the same desperation. Their voices are as robotic as their movements. They concentrate SO HARD on getting their script out that it comes out as a monotone or a whine. They don’t act like they know what they are doing or that they care remotely about the person they are talking to. Oh, they’ll loudly proclaim backwards and forwards to the contrary…but their actions say otherwise extremely clearly.
Hence why they don’t have a lot of success out there.
Thank you, Longtail! Oh I’ll be around writing now and then, when the opportunity allows!
Today was the second time I’m there, and I’m starting to notice the ‘reruns’ by the antis, as well!
What a powerful well written piece!
Thank you for this, Wolfers. The robotic metaphor is very apt. Their “switching” on and off is something I’ve noticed, and it’s so disorienting.
Indeed disorienting, another word that can certainly apply!
Thank you Wolfers! You capture the difference between antis and escorts with unique perspective and great verbal pictures, especially the anti’s dismissal and disrespect toward you. Sorry you had to take that but good job not taking it personally and turning it into a positive for the clients.
Thanks also for joining us. I hope to see you out there again.
That’s okay, It’s an advantage in this situation.
You’ll certainly see me around. 🙂
That’s a third for “wow”. This was absolutely stunning. The last paragraph brought tears to my eyes.
Welcome to our group, Wolfers – we are so fortunate to have you join us!
A powerful and insightful perspective, thank you for sharing
Fascinating perspective, thanks for sharing.
Interesting comment that the people who believe in ‘all life is sacred’ didn’t see much point in engaging with you as a human.
yeah, and they even snarked about deaf babies being aborted, today.. Selective about what babies can be saved, others not? Oh my goodness…
I don’t know whether her first time there was when I met her, but having been there for one of her early trips to the line, it’s great to read Wolfers’ take on things. I hadn’t thought to examine the body language and totally missed that dichotomy.
Wolfers, it was a pleasure to meet you and stand beside you!
🙂 Last Saturday was the first time for me.
Likewise for meeting you! Glad I’m there in the team!
I’ve tweeted this, because Wow!
Thank you for sharing this. That was my first reaction when I read it too. “Wow”
Thank you! That’s Awesome! If you wouldn’t mind, let me know your tweettag.
Absolutely! I am @reynardo_red, and the tweet itself is at https://twitter.com/Reynardo_red/statuses/366136459876503553
You’ll notice a friend of mine wondering about the term “antis” – I replied:
“Yup – anti-choice, anti-life and anti-women, not to mention anti-truth.” DId I miss anything?
Great post, it’s perspective was amazing!
I think it is a great post too!
And thank you, Servalbear! 🙂 It’s my pleasure to write about something that deserves awareness, especially these days.
Thank you, Oubli! I like to give my perspective as a deaf person in many ways, that’s why many folks consider us ‘invisible’- much easier for us to see things without being noticed.