Time for this Pro-Choice Woman to “Go Wild”

See the first post here. Since writing that one I have started to pay more attention to the prominent anti-choice blogs than I used to. I read these sometimes to get a grasp on what people “on the other side” are saying; I do this partially because I hate the idea of “sides” and so its fun to see the things we do agree on and try to find common ground. I do this to test my beliefs by reading opposing viewpoints and seeing if they sway me. I do this because it is summer and I have free time… so why not? I feel a little bad for singling out one particular post to structure this post about, but I feel like this has to be said.

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This post , titled Abortionist’s wife gone wild – with lawnmower, from Jill Stanek’s popular anti-choice blog really pissed me off. I wasn’t annoyed so much by the content of the post itself (which was bad, but unsurprising and not worth its own post) but rather by the content of several comments.These comments – as you will see shortly – characterized the worst of a movement that already makes me anxious.

First, a quick summary of what the post said:

Members of an IN pro-life activist group called Intercessors for Life spend theirs picketing the Noblesville, IN, home of abortionist Michael S. King, who slices and dices at 3 Planned Parenthood mills in Indianapolis. […]

Word to the wise: a lawnmaker can function as a postborn abortion machine.

In this video, taken two days ago on Memorial Day, King’s wife Shelley gave pro-lifers the finger before trying to shoo them off with her mean blades. But Shelley quickly remembered pro-aborts can’t pick on people their own size and walked off in a tiff.

Just so that we all understand here: protesters gathered outside of a doctor’s home, one walked right up to the edge of the lawn that his wife  was outside mowing. She is being criticized for responding to the people who came to her home to harass and intimidate her family over her husband’s profession in a less than cheery manner. All she did was flip them off, push the mower by the house, and walk away… that is what this anti-choicer considers “going wild.”

More wild, in my opinion, is the audacity to stand outside someone’s home with picket signs and harass them while they go about their daily life; its way more threatening than standing outside of their place of work (which, although I obviously disagree with, I will not criticize) because this sends the message we know where you live and we do not plan to leave you alone until you give in to our will. This is harassment, plain and simple.

In the post itself we see the phrase “postborn abortion machine” which, in this case, is serving to imply that Shelley King was considering using her lawnmower to murder the protesters. Not only did that threat never fucking happen but calling a murder an abortion (the most egregious example of this are the people who called Dr. Tiller’s murder an “incredibly late term abortion.” No, just no.) I’m sorry but there is a difference between an already born person, fully capable of surviving without the support of another human being’s body, and a fetus. Using this phrase not only distorts what abortion actually is, but it is incredibly disrespectful to the human beings, like Dr. Tiller, who are murdered over this debate.

If we’re arguing about the sanctity of life here (a phrase anti-choice love to toss around) then shouldn’t we treat the loss of life that comes with murder with more respect?

In the comments though, that’s where things really went to hell.

I was excited, at first, to see many well-reasoned commentors question the legitimacy and effectiveness of  protesting outside of someone’s home. Please, let it never be said that I think everyone within the anti-choice movement is an intimidating, closed-minded, sexist, jerk… plenty of them are people who simply have a different opinion from me. I tend to leave those people be, because  I really do believe that everyone has the right to live out their own morality without being harassed or spoken down to. However, many of these comments simply served to further cement into my mind the idea that the major driving forces in the movement are using feminist rhetoric to harass, belittle, and limit women.

For your consideration, a few of the worst and weirdest:

I would gladly have “pro-aborts” picket my house for being Pro-“baby”-life and for having more then the 2.1 children. I don’t hide behind $500,000 walls nor do I hide my fertility from my neighbors.

But this is exactly what Dr. *cough* Michael King does. He hides behind his very expensive walls of his house and hides his occupation from his neighbors. And sometimes, he hides at his health club.

The group has made a commitment to “visit” Dr. *cough* *cough* King every holiday until he retires/quits or repents. By repent, I mean a complete 180 degree from his current lifestyle.

This would make sense if there were people out there who actually opposed the choice to have children. This is why the pro-choice movement is called the pro-choice movement… because we care about supporting a woman’s right to choose what to do with her life and her uterus. If she chooses to parent then, awesome! No one from the pro-choice movement is working to harass women into having abortions, I promise. As to the other points: how is he hiding his occupation? By not having a fucking billboard outside of his house? Furthermore, when did it become anyone’s right to know what their neighbor does for a living? I think its sick that people have made a commitment to harass Dr. King and his family every holiday from here until he stops doing his job… wouldn’t that time be better spent with their own families, or volunteering to help low-income mothers or something? Just a thought.

Why does he have his wife mow the lawn, why not make is kids do it??????

Of course, you know he’s all, “Honey, you KNOW I can’t go out there with that mob – you’ll have to mow the lawn for me.”

I’m guessing the wife doesn’t get much say in where the money goes. It probably goes something like, “I work hard and get my hands DIRTY for my money, I’ll spend it on what I want. You need some exercise you lazy *#$(@%! Get out there and mow the lawn.”

These are three of quite a few comments that honestly baffled me. Why is it automatically assumed that Dr. King is forcing his wife to mow the lawn? Maybe she felt like being outside that day, and also wanted to get some work done around the house. Maybe she enjoys mowing the law. Maybe it was her turn this week. Maybe we live in a society that automatically assumes yard-work is “men’s work” but this particular couple feels that gender roles are bullshit and so she mows the lawn while he cooks supper. Maybe he wasn’t feeling well that day. Maybe she’s the only one who knows how to work the mower. Maybe aliens are fucking holding Dr. King hostage in the house unless Ms. King can mow the lawn in under an hour… okay so, not so much that one. But my point: we can speculate all day and we will never know why she is mowing the lawn. It shouldn’t matter why she is mowing the lawn; the only reason it does matter is that we live in a sexist society that pushes both men and women into rigid gender roles that don’t always fit, and then ridicules the people who choose to break out of those norms.

These people act as if they are so concerned for Shelly because, obviously, mowing the lawn means her husband is an abusive asshole. They try to look like feminists by being all concerned for her well-being but, really, its not hard to see the sexism through their pseudo concern.

This is a war. There’s no other way to put it. Some 4,000 lives are lost daily in this war, 52 Million in the US in the last 37 years. The way to win is the World War II model of success. Open as many fronts as you can to stretch the enemy forces. Bring everything to bear on the enemy simultaneously. Cut off their funding (no federal $$ for PP, no federal $$ for abortions) and supply (CPC’s and all other educational efforts to curb the number of women having abortions).

At the same time, eliminate the enemy combatants (here this does NOT mean killing, but rather going after abortionists licenses). Many eventually weary of the killing and join forces with us (Like the Italians in WWII). If some wish to lawfully picket the homes of the abortionists, then it’s that much more pressure to drive the current practitioners out and inhibit new practitioners from entering.

I recall in the 1980’s when homosexual groups would sit in blocks at St. Patrick’s Cathedral every week for Cardinal O’Connor’s Sunday Mass, then stand as a group during the sermon with their backs turned on him because he wouldn’t approve condom use and gay life. They were the darlings of the media back then.

So with that leftist precedent firmly ensconced in the halls of acceptable political discourse-entering a house of worship and disrupting services-I fail to see where the much milder occupation of public sidewalk space is so unacceptable. The lefties love their double-standards so long as they are the sole beneficiaries.

As for the neighbors being put out…

Maybe they could prevail upon the good doctors to bear in mind that a live birth makes ~$8,000, while a murder makes only about $450. The murderers of babies are social pariahs. Making them stand out as such in their neighborhoods is all a part of war.

[Emphasis mine]

War metaphors just scare the shit out of me, plain and simple. I would never use one when writing a public piece or addressing a group of activists, because violent rhetoric all to often leads to violent action. This comment, one of many war-minded ones, was particularly scary to me because of how drawn out the metaphor is. I also found this comment a little strange because, at the bottom, the writer feels the need to point out that it costs more to birth a baby then to abort it. This seems awfully out of place for a movement that often calls doctors who perform abortions “money hungry” wouldn’t the real hungry docs go into birth, by this logic? Also: $8,000 is a lot of money… this commentor just hit on one of the many reasons why women sometimes need to have abortions, many women have trouble scrounging up the $400, forget about $8,000. This, obviously, is a flaw in the system that I know a lot of pro-choice and anti-choice activists alike are trying to fix… why cant we focus on reducing the number of abortions by increasing the amount of funding available to mothers who want to parent but can’t afford it? That’s something we can all agree on! I don’t know what point this commentor was trying to prove, but this conclusion works well for me.

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Now, I didn’t write this post to pick on these particular commentors (which is why I left their names out), or this particular post, or even this particular blog. I did this because I wanted a chance to show some examples, to show the things that are really coming out of the mouths of people who identify as “pro-life.” I do this, not to tear the anti-choice movement down but, rather, to push us all to a level of dialogue that transcends fear mongering, thinly veiled sexism, threatening behavior, and so on because this is the behavior that is destructive. I honestly wracked my brain for a few hours before posting this, trying to come up with similar pro-choice behavior to call out… except, I couldn’t really find anything. I don’t see pro-choicers threatening the people who protest outside of clinics and homes. All I see are dedicated escorts, struggling to get women (many who aren’t even at the clinic for an abortion) in with minimal trauma. I don’t see pro-choicers singling out the family members of anti-choicers and ridiculing them. I’m not saying it doesnt ever happen (because what movement doesn’t have it’s fringe) but I am saying that threatening and downright mean behavior seems much more prominent within the anti-choice movement and it scares me.

The bottom line: harassment is not helping women or anyone really; what would help the pregnant women the anti-choice movement cares so much about is donating time and money to organizations that help mothers with financial issues to raise the children that they decided to have. That is a pro-woman act. Harassing an innocent family? Not so much. You know what else isn’t helping? War metaphors. No matter how many times you remind people not to actually kill others (in convenient little parenthesis even) this language can too easily be seen as a call for violence. As Dr. Tiller’s tragic death shows us all to well, some people aren’t going to heed your warnings not to actually kill and that, my friends, is terrifying.

PS. You know what else is really fucking  not helping women? Making fun of a woman for mowing her own lawn. All that does is reveal your inner misogynistic asshole, which isn’t really going to attract people to your cause.)

3 thoughts on “Time for this Pro-Choice Woman to “Go Wild”

  1. Things like this concern me. I fully understand and appreciate that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and that they have a right to make these opinions known. However that doesn’t allow you to lay siege to somebody’s house. How terrifying must that have been for those people? I think it’s amazing that all Ms Smith did was give them the finger, if it had been me I think I would have freaked outand barricaded myself in.

    Thanks for the informative post! I am a long time reader and this is the first comment I’ve left, I’m fairly new to feminism and it’s good to read in depth informative pieces like this.

  2. Whew. I went to the post and read through all the comments. After this I’ll have to sign off and play my DSi for a while. Many of those comments were just unbelievable.

    I cannot fathom how they can justify vilifying Shelley King when there is a video posted right there. She mowed her lawn, and quit when a protester got right on the edge of the sidewalk to flash the sign. Sure, he didn’t get on the grass or shove the sign right in her face, but really? That’s pushing it. If people were doing that to me, I’d get frustrated too. And I’d flip them off, too. They were harassing her, whether or not they want to admit it. They can make all the righteous justifications they want (and they did! One commenter brought up a demonstration by gay-rights activists in the 1970s that violated his sensibilities.) but, technically legal nonwithstanding, it’s still wrong. Doing what they did and then pearl-clutching when she flips them off is also unbelievable.

    I felt for those who expressed their disapproval of picketing at someone’s homes. They were reasonable, logical, and they were torn apart for it. I especially felt for one who stuck it through the whole thread, replying to posts, making suggestions, etc, only to get frustrated and lashed out, and…was vilified for it! I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised considering the blog.

    War wasn’t the only metaphor used. Good cop/bad cop was also employed, which concerns me. Several posters said that any tactic (nothing physically harmful, illegal, or muder excepting, of course!) should be used in “the fight.” A few mentioned that they would want someone to use their tactics against them if they were doing something wrong.

    I applaud you taking the time to read through their sites. I couldn’t do it on any regular basis. Interacting with conservative and ignorant friends is exhausting enough. Thanks for the post!

  3. “Maybe we live in a society that automatically assumes yard-work is “men’s work” but this particular couple feels that gender roles are bullshit and so she mows the lawn while he cooks supper.

    These people act as if they are so concerned for Shelly because, obviously, mowing the lawn means her husband is an abusive asshole. They try to look like feminists by being all concerned for her well-being but, really, its not hard to see the sexism through their pseudo concern.”

    Not quite, I am a male feminist and I know that is just benevolent sexism

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