Men - Join Me! It is Very Important!
Yesterday (Saturday) Morning I was at a Chicago Abortion Clinic at 6:10 a.m. (early) for my first shift as a Clinic Escort. A man was kneeling on the sidewalk, eyes closed, praying. He had two (religious related) books and a large cross. Though he was silent, and didn’t “do anything”, I immediately felt initial mild anger. The massiveness of the issues - we face - seemed much more real to me!
After a few minutes the shift coordinator and another woman who had trained us for our work arrived and gave a fellow newbie and me our bright pink vests.
Being visibly different and otherwise clearly apart from the protesters was important! Initially mostly staff were arriving in their (largely) purple attire. When a partner or friend dropped them off, they looked connected and calm, and they were happy to see us there, holding the door open for them and greeting them.
The women who had evident male partners looked very different! Some looked afraid. Many looked like they had had sleepless nights. A few looked frustrated or angered with their partners. Many were BIPOC. Most looked young and didn’t look like they had any positive energy to put forth. Some thanked us, and many were obviously relieved that we were there, giving them a path away from the protesters. Others had relatives and friends and some were dropped off alone by Uber’s and Lyft’s near the main front door of the clinic.
The protesters were a mixed bunch. Across the street, by the parking lot, where the public could use paid parking, four women had their signs. They were distasteful, but at least not horrible. The guilt tripping voices of others were jolting. Their “Jesus this” and “you will regret this 10 years from now” and “you don’t need to do this” types of messages were highly disturbing.
At one point the new volunteer and I were holding a sheet of colored material on a pole, blocking a sign that a particularly obnoxious volunteer left - facing the door, where the abortion pills are left. He directly verbally attacked me and told me that I was violating the law. I waited and waited and then responded as simply and mildly as I could. He was very condescending. I wasn’t scared, but I certainly was quite annoyed.
The increasingly busy engagements brought up a lot of feelings in all of us! I was and am angry! These people don’t care about the women. They don’t care about you or I. They want to keep women as chattel of men and boys! They are one part of the wave of oppressive intrusion and efforts to control all of us!
I did not feel scared of the protesters! I did feel scared for our country!
It was good to have a fellow male escort there, and later on a second man! It seemed obvious that we need to reach a lot more men, especially white men to make a real difference. The first man told me how he’d been the only man seven years ago when he started his work.
Being in such an intense environment (with lulls) is very, very important for me! It means far more to me than writing emails and blog posts!
I want to reach out to other men - those I know as well as hopefully others I don’t know! I hope that some of you will join me! While it doesn’t seem dangerous, at some point there will be someone with a gun threatening us! We need to wake up and do all that we can! We need to be out there - when Roe is overturned, demonstrating that day and later on as things escalate! We need to meet together and share our experiences, our feelings, our ideas, and much, much more!
We need to be energized and creative! Women - IF we listen carefully, will help us see how we can be of most assistance, and avoid getting in the way. I made at least one mistake, and will make more as I continue my work. You can do your part - figuring out what is best for you to start, and sustain ongoing work!
I am ashamed of how we’ve failed over the past 49 years to expand the rights for women, trans people, queer identified and non-binary folks to the point where this wouldn’t be possible! My anger and dissatisfaction with how little I’ve done over my lifetime, leads me to what to do whatever I can to help.
It is comforting to work among allies in this difficult work! Whether you will work as I am doing, or in a totally different way, find allies through MERJ (www.EndThePatriarchy.org) and/or through other paths. Find local women lead groups to support! Work on the 2022 elections! Read - material we’ve got links for to learn more! I have a lot more to learn!
It is challenging! It can be exciting, along with having discouraging moments. I am sad. I am angry. I am moved by the work of so many women, and a few men! We are not alone, but we have a long way to go!
Best wishes in your journey with us!