He Said What??

Saturday started out like any day at the clinlc.

One of the seminarians follows me down the sidewalk, telling me over and over that there is blood on my hands.   “You can’t see it, you don’t believe it, but there is blood on your hands.”

I resist the urge to even look at my hands, and just keep walking.  No big deal.

A companion threatens to hit Mary, but doesn’t.

Then, I’m up by the clinic, and Ron, one of the protesters who’s been coming forever, approaches me.  If you saw the video of the protesters who were taunting Anne, the clinic director ~ one of them was Ron.

“Hey,” he says.  He holds out his smart phone, as if he thinks I’m going to look at it.

“Is this your mother?”

The question seems so out-of-place, it doesn’t quite register.  Of course, I don’t answer.

“It sounds like she was a good woman,” he says.  “This is her obit, right?”

And he begins to read to me from my mother’s obituary.

I am surprised.  Surprised that he’s doing this ~ reading the words that I wrote almost two years ago when my Mama died ~ reading them aloud to me on the sidewalk.   Surprised at my own visceral reaction.

I’ve worked with kids who informed me, with great seriousness, “But I HAD to hit him.  You don’t understand!  He was ‘talking ’bout my Mama.’  I HAD TO hit him.”

I get that now.

Nooooo, of course I didn’t hit Ron, or shove him away, or do anything.  But for a second, I had a vivid memory of kids saying that, and I mentally apologized to them for being so obtuse at the time.  Apparently, someone “talking ’bout my Mama,” does elicit a strong reaction.

Then I had to laugh.  Good grief.  Really, Ron?  You’re gonna talk about my Mama?

I wanted to imitate Arnold in “Different Strokes” – do you remember this:

I wanted to say, in just that tone, “What you talking ’bout, Ron?  Don’t be talking ’bout my Mama!!”   I didn’t, I didn’t say a word, but the thought made me laugh.

Ron blindsided me, of course.  It won’t bother me again.  Now that I’ve expanded my concept of the protesters to “people who would read to me from my mother’s obituary,” I won’t be surprised again.

Ron shared it with some other protesters while he was at it, handing them his phone to read, nodding in my direction to point me out.  I think they’ve just learned that you can google someone and find out a lot about them, and are really excited about this new skill. Quick to share their opinions too.

According to them,  my mother is ashamed of me.  She’s looking down from heaven, she can see me, and she’s afraid for me.  She doesn’t want me to do this.   She’s upset that we’ll be separated for eternity, cause I’ll be going to the other place.   My mother wants me to know that there’s still time for me to change, to turn away from this evil.

They insist that my mother didn’t raise me to do this.  “What happened to you?” Ron demands, “Did you get violated when you were young?  Is that what happened to make you turn out like this?”

When I walk away, he follows me down the sidewalk, reading the obituary to me.

Sigh.

None of that nonsense bothers me.

My mother taught me to be a feminist.  My mother believed in trusting women to do the right thing for themselves and their families.  My mother believed in empowering women to take care of themselves and follow their own conscience.

My mother taught me not to be intimidated by bullies.  She taught me to stand up for people who are being bullied.

I know she’s proud of me.

But I was a bit surprised that they would stoop to this ~ for what purpose?  How does this help “save babies?”  Oh, wait, I forgot.  It’s not about the babies.  It’s about controlling women, on the sidewalk and off…

Trespassing and Invasion

I was back at the clinic this morning after quite some time away – time off was very good. It gave me a chance to just not have that racket in my head for a while. I had the opportunity to see the clinic for the first time in a while, with semi-fresh eyes, and to notice some things that come to seem very normal after seeing them happen so regularly.

I hadn’t engaged with any protesters at all until about 8:00. And then Stephanie happened. You may remember Stephanie – she used to be one of the jackass chasers in the orange vests. Now she is a jackass in a yellow vest. Andy wrote a FABULOUS response to an e-mail she sent. You can read that conversation here: https://everysaturdaymorning.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/dear-stephanie/

Particularly striking, to me, is this part:

“Your faith in god does not change the fact that you are in that moment no different from a rapist. To be clear I am simply making an analogy: person A says no to a certain type of interaction, person B does not accept those boundaries and forces themselves upon person A.”

That piece focuses mainly on the emotional trespassing done by protesters, and it is very eloquent, so I will simply second what that post says. We have also discussed many times on this blog the physical trespassing that happens – pushing into clients, pushing INFANTS into a client’s path, shoving handfuls of literature at clients and into their purses and bags… And of course, there’s trespassing onto clinic property.

This morning I had been walking in with a few client/escort groups, and after one I turned around to see that Stephanie had followed us onto the property line. WELL onto the property line, several feet in from both directions – this wasn’t toes over the line, this was trespassing onto private property very intentionally.

I was pissed. I told her to move, that she was trespassing, that she was on private property… She told me that it wasn’t MY property (well duh…) and that I had no authority to tell her to move. I will be the first to tell you that I cannot control what Stephanie does. No matter how thoughtless, rude, cruel, ignorant, etc. her actions and words may be, I have no control over them and cannot make her stop. But I can call people out for doing fucked up things. We ended up very close to each other, me yelling at her to get the fuck off of clinic property and what the fuck was she thinking, her yelling that I had no authority to tell her what to do and that it wasn’t my property… Finally I turned around and backed her off of the property.

I could write a lot about about how weird it is to get as worked up as I did, about how little sense it makes to trespass onto clinic property and then act like it’s totally ok… But it basically boils down to how shocking it is to see these ridiculous things happen after taking some time off, and how insolent and childish it is to trespass onto clinic property and act like you can do no wrong.

Let’s get real. What happened was not ok.

I am in no way saying that I handled things in the best possible way. But, the threat of having a protester invade a safe space for clients and escorts got to me. I got defensive and protective, because the one place where I should be able to count on having my own personal space was invaded. The space where clients should finally feel secure before their steps through the clinic door was invaded. The space that used to be patrolled by police officers that knew what they were doing (who’s mere presence would have almost certainly stopped these things from happening) was momentarily no longer a safe zone, and that is not acceptable.

While I am surprised by how upset I got, how aggressive I felt, I am not sorry for yelling or moving Stephanie off of clinic property. I hope to not get to that place again, to be able to control my feelings when my buttons are pushed like that, but I an not apologetic for my actions. Part of escorting is maintaining safe spaces, and when those spaces are invaded, I don’t think I can sit back and watch that happen without doing anything.

I cooled down at the corner and talked with another escort. As it got to be time to head home, we walked towards the clinic doors and passed Stephanie, who, making no eye contact with me, told us to have a nice day. How sweet.

Update: Stephanie commented to say I’m lying about most everything in this post.

Shout out to Stephanie: you still owe the escorts an apology. I don’t know how you remember things, but my account is from very shortly after this all happened. While I know human memory can be altered (I listened to a podcast about it just last night), I am not a liar, and I stand by what I have said here. You are allowed to have your version of the “truth” but it does not change the basic facts of what happened. Whether or not you honestly think you “accidentally” trespassed onto private property, we both know that you WERE on private property. We both know that you did not move when you realized what had happened. You still have some apologizing to do.

This is the day…

(I realize that this is a kind of long picture post – but if you only look at one thing, watch the first 30 seconds or so of the video at the end! It’s amazing – I was sung to/at!)

This was my first weekday at clinic. There were 6 escorts, if I remember correctly, and about 10-15 protesters. My numbers might be off, but that’s my estimate.

This morning was pretty interesting. The dynamic is very different with fewer clients, fewer escorts, and fewer protesters. The really loud and pushy protesters (soap box preacher, Angela, Donna, and gray haired rude dude) seem to enjoy the extra attention and engaging escorts as much as possible.

Here are the finest photos I managed to get today:

This guy does great ad-libs ("Do the math, people!") and make the most artificial looking hand/arm motions

This guy does great ad-libs ("Do the math, people!") and makes the most artificial, practiced looking hand/arm motions

... but when Angela showed up, he stepped down for a minute. Note the sorrow (or annoyance?) on his face. Poor guy.

... but when Angela showed up, he stepped down for a minute. Note the sorrow (or annoyance?) on his face. Poor guy.

Donna was there. As usual. I wanted to photoshop this to say "Asshole" with an arrow towards her face. But that would be childish. Then again, I had to tell her "No pushing!" a BUNCH today, so maybe childish is ok.

Donna was there. As usual. An advocate for choice! I wanted to photoshop this to say "Asshole" with an arrow towards her face. But that would be childish. Then again, I had to tell her "No pushing!" a BUNCH today, so maybe childish is ok.

This guy was very entertaining today, and was adament that he was neutral. He told us lots of interesting stories, showed off his baby (Matilda, aka Mattie), and even told the Soap Box dude to shut up. He is an interesting guy, for sure.

This guy was very entertaining today, and was adament that he was neutral. He told us lots of interesting stories, showed off his baby (Matilda, aka Mattie), and even told the Soap Box dude to shut up. He is an interesting guy, for sure.

This bossy lady stayed pretty quiet today, but did give us very stern looks.

This bossy lady stayed pretty quiet today, but did give us very stern looks.

This seems to be one of Donna's buddies. She said "What do you want me to do, smile?" and I said "Sure, smile, make a face, whatever." After I took her picture a few times, she said "That was pleasant," and walked away. What?

This seems to be one of Donna's buddies. She said "What do you want me to do, smile?" and I said "Sure, smile, make a face, whatever." After I took her picture a few times, she said "That was pleasant," and walked away. What?

Angela held open this car door as a client's support person/friend was getting in her car. I told her that she should think about not touching other people's cars. It was weird and I felt uncomfortable, because the friend was not adament about Angela backing off. I hovered a few feet away in case she needed/wanted some back up.

Angela held open this car door as a client's support person/friend was getting in her car. I told her that she should think about not touching other people's cars. It was weird and I felt uncomfortable, because the friend was not adament about Angela backing off. I stayed a few feet away in case she needed/wanted some back up.

I like this picture. Gotta get creative with time to kill, right?

I like this picture. Gotta get creative with time to kill, right?

And here is the crowning glory of my morning! I get a shout out about 30 seconds in.

Breaking: Abortion provider George Tiller murdered

Here are a few links:

Feministing

Huffington Post

New York Times

My sympathies to Dr. Tiller’s family and staff.

 

Dr. George Tiller

Dr. George Tiller

Wow. Talk about fanaticism. I don’t really know where to start, other than i am more saddened by my lack of surprise that something like this was possible than I could have anticipated. Of course it is possible, the man had endured being shot, his clinic burned, constant harassment from anti choice groups, legal issues connected with said anti-choice groups and the list goes on. I am sure he knew it was possible. I am sure his family and staff knew something like this was possible. But it does not change the fact that this is completely heartbreaking.

I am sad for Dr. Tiller’s family and staff.

I am sad for the loss of such a committed physican.

I am not surprised that the anti-choice movement continues to use violence and intimidation as a tool in it’s arsenal.

I am not surprised to see this type of violence even as Obama seeks to find common ground.

Those of us escorting outside abortion providers in this country who are routinely protested know that the aggression there has been ratcheting up.

I am furious.

Those are my immediate thoughts. I am sure i will have less raw ramblings once the shock of the news has settled in a little.

In the mean time, thank your Reproductive Health Care Provider. Support your local escorts. And keep a close eye on your Reproductive and Sexual Rights. They are important.