Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Don't tell me to stop talking about dudes sucking. Tell dudes to stop sucking.

Last week while sitting in an airport restaurant during a layover, a heavily intoxicated man approached me. He'd just gotten off a flight and was headed to another terminal when he spotted me sitting at the end of the bar by myself (near the entrance), and made a B-line straight toward me.

A whole incident ensued and afterwards I posted about it on our Facebook page. What made this all status update-worthy, however, was not the man's ultimate arrest for public intoxication (because, yes, he was that bad, which is why I left out some of the more obnoxious details about our time together), but how another woman who I can only assume had been traveling on the same flight as this man, never left me alone with him. I wanted to celebrate this awesome act of sisterhood. She stood back as not to escalate the situation, but kept eye contact with me the entire time letting me know something could potentially happen because of the aggressive state he was in.

And it did.

He had cozied up across the bar from me, loudly demanding I tell him he was cuter than my husband (who, yes, I felt the need to name drop early on, because sadly a woman not being interested is not enough these days... she has to be someone else's property in order to turn down a drunk dude's advances *eye roll*). Then finally at one point, only about a minute and a half into him sitting there, he placed both of his hands on my head. I did not feel in any immediate danger, but I know a big part of that was because I wasn't alone. I knew in that moment he had crossed a line and that the other woman was likely alerting airport security.

They came over and this gentleman was given multiple chances by security to go get a cup of coffee before getting on to his next flight, but he refused and just became more belligerent.

The most disturbing part of all of this though? Not the weird drunk airport arrest I watched go down, but rather the comments left on this very positive Facebook post I had written thanking that other woman for having my back.

I was accused of misandry, and overreacting because after all "nothing had happened"…yet. There was a lot of "well, if the tables had been turned and it was a woman who was the aggressor…"

So, fine internet commenter "Nickolai," let's turn the tables.

If you were suddenly approached by a woman twice your size, who was drunk, who had honed in on YOU, and there was no way of talking her out of the plans she had to take you home tonight, you might begin to feel one iota of what many of us feel all too often. But odds are you've never been in that situation. You've likely never felt physically intimidated by a woman, because if you had (as some men have), you would be more empathetic to what I went through and less accusatory of me for using this experience to- what did you say again? -oh yeah: drive up clicks-throughs. Because the ads. They're just everywhere on this blog, right? Remind me to explain to you how the Internet works in a future post.

I'm going to be very blunt. If you were looking for a politically correct "we're all equal" feminist page, you've come to the wrong place. I don't reside in that la-la land. I live in reality. I live in a world where women are overwhelmingly the victims of sexual assault, not men. I live in a world where I don't have the luxury of boycotting date-rape-detecting nail polish, because I have had GHB slipped into my drink before. I live in a world where I am not equally as strong as a 250 lb. drunk dude, and I won't act like I am. I live in a world where having another woman watch out for me, and sadly needing other women to watch out for me, is a just part of everyday life. It shouldn't have to be like this, but it is. And until dudes change that, I will not apologize for "continuing the narrative" that men are usually the aggressors in situations like this. Because it wasn't some second-hand anecdote; it was something that really happen to me last week. If you're pissed at anyone, be pissed at the dudes who are creating this stereotype, not the women who are merely acknowledging what's happening and speaking out against it.

I'm sorry, but watch the video below, and then be "man enough" to admit shit like this does. not. happen. to. you.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tips for Offering Women Non-Violent Alternatives at the Clinic

From SAFL-

Sometimes, it's the little things that count.

That's no less true for reaching a women-in-crisis, especially in a critical moment in which she's considering abortion.

This week, we thought we'd share with you a few little tidbits to keep with you on the sidewalk in order to make yourself more approachable to an abortion-bound woman...

  • Be a person, not a protester -- This is the main thing we want you to remember: be someone she feels she can talk to.  Be a "safe person."  Think about it this way -- if you were caught in a desperate situation, who would you want to talk to?  The person yelling at you?  Or possibly, a person who looks like you and simply says,"Good morning can we help you?"  It's really something to think about.

  • Avoid "ganging up" on someone -- Even the best sidewalk counselors sometimes miss the opportunity to look around them and say, would this setting be intimidating to a woman-in-crisis?  She's not going to want to talk about her business with a huge group of people around, so try to separate yourself from the group a bit and create a more personal, confidential space for you to converse with someone and share vital information.  A car naturally creates this, but think about the setting for someone who might approach you on foot.

  • Don't be a billboard -- Peaceful messages are fine, but avoiding looking like a pin board for a bunch of angry messages meant for the culture.  Remember: your audience is the heart of a woman-in-crisis; your main goal at an abortion center is to reach her.  You want to be a safe, approachable person.  You don't want a woman to dismiss an opportunity to talk to you because you are "preaching at" them through your clothes.  Be someone who looks professional and approachable.

  • Project your voice, but don't yell -- I still remember the day I called out to a woman across the parking lot of an abortion facility -- I naturally had to project my voice, otherwise, she wouldn't have been able to hear me.  Unfortunately, she went in anyway.  However, she came out about 30 minutes later and came over to talk to me at the fence.  She said, "I decided to come talk to you because you weren't yelling at me."  I marveled at that because I naturally had to call out to her in order to reach her.  Again, there is a difference: if I had yelled out, "Hey, you, what do you think you're doing?!" or related, we would've never had the conversation.  But because I said, "Hi, I'm Lauren!  We'd like you to know that we have real help available ...You can come talk to me at anytime..." and projected my voice in a friendly manner, that made all the difference.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Be Warned: AHA are Master Baiters

Humility… not really their strong suit.
Last night, I dreamt there were two giant snakes in my house. I walked in and they slithered towards me. I ran and opened the door, jumped out of the way, and they slithered out. I slammed the door and locked it, only to walk down my hall and see my 2-year-old son screaming. He'd opened the bathroom door and the snakes were sitting there in the bathtub, hissing and snapping at him. I ran down the hall, but not before one of them got his foot. The snake was trying to swallow my family. I grabbed my son and pulled his foot out of the snakes mouth then grabbed it by the head. The other one slithered off, but the one I had by the mouth was whipping me with his body trying to shake himself free. I smashed his head between my hands even harder attempting to suffocate him. For a few seconds I thought I was successful as he was quiet and motionless, but as soon as I let up any of my grip he would start whipping around again, trying to open his mouth. I carried the snake out of the house and into the garage. I was looking for a shovel so I could stop him once and for all, but I couldn't find one anywhere. Finally I found some twine, and thought at the very least I could tie his mouth shut so he couldn't hurt my family anymore. I tied the twine around his mouth and dropped the snake to the floor, but he still kept slithering toward my family, trying to wrap himself around my kids. Suddenly, in the corner, a shovel appeared. I grabbed it, returned to the snake, lifted the shovel high above my head… then I woke up.

Now I'm sure some of you are thinking, "Wow, what type of weird burrito did you eat before bed?" But, actually this dream makes perfect sense given the last few days I've had.

AHA, or Abolish Human Abortion, has almost always rubbed me the wrong way. I think I liked them for maybe a week because they have some pretty sweet graphics, but by day 8 of following them I saw who they really were. They are the exact thing we're fighting here at New Wave Feminists, in my opinion. We don't hate post-abortive women. We love them more because we know what they've been through. We don't hate abortion-minded girls. We love them more, because we know their need is great. Where we are trying to create a culture of compassion and empathy for these women, AHA shouts bible verses because these "murderers" (in their words) need to be confronted with AHA's twisted idea of truth in order to reap forgiveness and find salvation. According to them we're truly the ones who hate these women since we're offering them help and resources and "not calling out their sin." AHA is not pro-life, which they desperately want prolifers to know (although those outside of the anti-abortion world will never know the difference). They are Christian fundamentalists, no better than Westboro Baptist Church, who simply chose abortion as their avenue of reaching the masses, rather than dead soldiers. 

For a while they were a fleeting annoyance to me, slithering out of my house whenever they entered my mind. Then last week they came to a Dallas suburb, and were demonstrating in front of a high school, with their giant graphic images and aggressive banter. I'd finally had enough. 

See, I don't live in a bubble like they do, only venturing out of it to shout down "the world" with "truth" and condemnation. I truly am IN the world, and surround myself with people who are fervently pro-choice. That's where I feel called to be right now. I want them to see that we're not all nuts… actually most of us aren't. I want the world to see the pro-life movement's heart for women and desire to serve those in need. I want us to build relationships- true, authentic relationships- so that if any of these friends ever find themselves dealing with an unplanned pregnancy they will come to one of us because they know we are safe. And so far we've been pretty successful at getting that message out. Which is why it's so hard to know many of the people in Dallas, who I am in community with, and perhaps the only pro-life voice they might be hearing, were seeing these extremists outside of a local school and lumping us all together. They were hurting the people I feel called to love and I felt compelled to speak out about that.

I made a comment on Facebook about the whole thing, sharing an email that the school district had sent warning parents about these "sanctity of life" (ugh) demonstrators. I did this hoping that if anyone in our area saw AHA then came to my page they would know I adamantly disagree with this group. The goal was to separate myself, New Wave Feminists, and all other peaceful, compassionate, outreach based organizations from this band of psychos. And I did use the word "douchebag," because well, that's how I talk. 
Of course, AHA eventually saw this post and started spamming the thread, proving they are exactly what I claimed; a good friend once wisely said, "When someone's digging a hole for themselves, for goodness sakes don't help them. Get out of the way and let them keep going." So I did.

My phone was blowing up, but I chose not to click through to Facebook. I'd already gone back and forth with a few of the AHA'ers and it proved to be utterly pointless. I would glance over every once in a while and saw a lot of "So Destiny, I take your silence to mean…" type comments. However, I did my best to ignore them and went about my day getting stuff done as my 2-year-old son, who was sniffly and not feeling so well, followed me around whimpering. Rather than turning to him and holding him while he whined about his puny feels, I began to feel agitated since my thoughts were consumed with what "I would say" if I did take their bait. And that's when I stopped, turned to my son and pulled his foot out of their mouth. He didn't deserve this. He shouldn't have to share his mom with some internet lunatics when he wasn't feeling well. I sat and held him and tried to shoo the snakes out of my head. 

A few hours later I picked up my phone and perused through a couple of the comments, but I put it back down because I didn't want to merely respond in anger. While some might think that's what my original post was, I can tell you that was not the intent of my heart. That came from a place of righteous indignation and I still stand by every word I wrote. At some point we must stand up and condemn that which is actively destroying lives and pushing people away. Trying to get most of these AHA members to understand the concept of restraint is pretty futile though, so eventually I just turned my phone off. They can take my "silence" as whatever they like.

They went on to post screen shots of my Facebook, first on T. Russell Hunter's page, then on the official AHA Facebook. Funny thing is, even while being called a "baby killer" and "Pharisee" by complete strangers, I appreciated them spreading the word that I 100% disagree with them. I want that shouted from the rooftops!

Sadly, this is what I see happening a lot with many of these extremist groups who want to hang on that cross so dang hard that they nail their own hands and feet up there; they cry 'persecution' anytime anyone disagrees with their tactics; they think they're so punk rock because of how much they are hated, when in reality the most punk rock thing you can do when standing outside of a place that ends lives, is not scream. Screaming and yelling makes the "protester" feel good, but it does nothing for the woman scared out of her mind and feeling trapped, entering those doors because she feels like she has no other option. Sometimes the most extreme thing you can do is show restraint. Rage is easy. Condemnation and judgement come naturally to us. Denying one's self, one's own emotions… that is divine. That is love.

So please, fellow activist, I beg you not to get sucked into AHA's trap, whether by dabbling in their crazy or engaging them online. They won't be happy until they've swallowed us whole. They are relentless, and every minute we spend arguing with one of them, is a minute we don't spend nurturing the relationships that actually matter… the ones that might truly save lives one day. 

Sadly, I had to learn this lesson the hard way.