Wake Up Men!
I was a Clinic Escort at a Family Planning Associates Abortion Clinic in Chicago from June – September, 2022, when I moved to Richmond, California. It took me until August, 2023 (after a variety of efforts) to continue my Escort work, which is now for Planned Parenthood in Concord, California. I work regular shifts, consistently doing the work week-after-week.
For me, as a cis-hettish, white man, it is important that I’m in allyship. I want to support the important work of girls, women and trans people.
I’m bothered that more men don’t volunteer! Some of us are committed to coming to rallies. We are reticent to dig deeply into personal work with other men. We also don’t want to feel uncomfortable, and serious systemic change work is challenging.
In Chicago, the front door, was on the street. We had protesters who, without our visible presence, would block the front door, while also guilt tripping the women and girls. Many of those coming in looked exhausted (from a sleepless previous night) and scared.
Facing phony graphic images, and phonier purported caring and “support”, added to the challenges many young women faced.
Protesters, everywhere, speak of how they will financially help the women. I’d love to hear of the necessary $500,000-$1,000,000 contribution to raise an unwanted child. I’ve never heard a touching story anywhere of such a gift! I’ve heard much more of unrelated programs that help fund the education for students seeking an easier life than their parents have had.
In Concord, it is quite different. The patient entrance is out of Planned Parenthood’s private parking lot. A high percentage of the Latina clients defer to the two men, who Jesus them (to death), when allowed the opportunity. They often roll up their car windows, taking the literature and listening to the false, supposedly loving message. Often-times the drivers may presume that the protesters work for the Clinic. Others – are defiant of the protesters – and I/we smile at their words, saying what we may feel, but can not say.
It is ironic that 97% of Planned Parenthood’s work is multi-faceted health work, unrelated to abortions. The smiles and endless condescending words rein on and on and on and on.
In four weeks of work outside the clinic I have said a total of zero words to the two protesters out there. One has told me that I’m the father of our staff – supervisor. Provoking us to respond, and then escalating the rhetoric is their goal, but I’m not going to play their game. A fellow volunteer was overheard saying her name, and a protester misheard it slightly and began repeating her name, directing message after message at her.
The sexism and condescension persists! The police were called, after the protester failed after repeated warnings, to stop harassing her using what he thought was her name.
I don’t find the work itself difficult or significantly challenging. I do find it hard having respect for the protesters. I appreciate the allyship of my fellow volunteers, and the Office staff. I appreciate the opportunity to try to do the work.
I identify significantly with the ideas of clinic defense, which isn’t what we do in Concord. I am appreciative that I’ve not been touched by a protester. Soon, we will face, the seasonal protest movement escalating the numbers of people who will confront us.
While I appreciate the kind words of passersby, including men, I still wonder: Where are the men? When will we wake up?
When will we see the major societal threat that goes well beyond the huge issue of bodily autonomy for girls, women, trans people and others? When will we see how much damage – including killing – that is done by men like ourselves? When will we see how little work we are doing, and what hypocrites many of us are?
No, individual men don’t need to be working with me, at my side. I hope, though, that more men will get involved in the variety of causes that are tearing our society apart, continuing the Patriarchy.
We have a long way to go!