***Disclaimer: I wrote and rewrote this twenty times in my head, and it kept coming across as...arrogant, I guess, and judgemental. But I feel like my feelings on the issue are legitimate, and I wanted to express them anyway. So, sorry if this post makes me seem like an ass. I'm really not, most of the time.***
The Bound4Life people were back this Saturday. One of our escorts, the fantastic JF, went out with tape over his mouth that said "Choice" and just stood with them. Ballsy. Afterwards they were quite nice and a couple of them introduced themselves - including the ringleader, KT.
I've been thinking a lot about the B4L kids and I'm still rather torn. On the one hand, they only come on Saturdays so patients don't see them - they are harmless. They are different than the regular protesters; they're not there to harrass people, or even really to be seen, so much as they just want God to stop abortion. It's kind of sweet, in an ignorant and misguided way. I do respect their enthusiasm though, and their desire to avoid confrontation and offence, even though sometimes good intentions aren't quite enough.
So I do think they're okay. I don't have much of a problem with them. But then, on the other hand...
It's kind of complicated. I've discovered the concept of privilege relatively recently, and it's a bitch, let me tell you. It's an ongoing series of "aha!" moments, but not the fun ones, more like the "oh god, I'm talking out my big, pale, white ass again" ones. It is very, very difficult to escape one's own privilege; I'm not actually sure it can be done. However, you can examine your own privilege and be aware of it, which is something I've been working on over the last couple years. It's painful, especially when you've got so much of it - whiteness, money, education, opportunity, etc. etc.
Male privilege is pretty bad (just look at our regular protesters), but I think white privilege is the worst. Or at least, whatever you would call the kind of privilege that incorporates white skin, middle or upper middle class upbringing, and living in North America. I'll just call it WASP privilege, although that's not the best term as it is both too inclusive and not inclusive enough for the group I'm thinking of. Regardless, it's the group that includes me and people like me - including KT.
The point of all this is, I think what the B4L people do is kind of off-putting because it demonstrates such a painful lack of self-examination. These kids have no idea of their own privilege; if they did, they would be ashamed to be out there in public, being so ridiculously clueless. It's their idealism and their naivete that makes them so pathetic - you can tell that they really believe in saving the little babies, and that if they could have a few minutes alone with a woman considering abortion, they could not only change her mind, but also probably bring her to Christ.
Because they see the world through a lens of WASP privilege, however, they have no way of identifying with the situation at all. True, some women who come into the clinic are also born of privilege, but the vast majority are not - they are in far shittier situations than people like me could imagine. And people like KT, with her support network of friends and family, her money and social status, they think it's just a matter of changing her mind. They just have no concept of having NO OTHER OPTION.
Abortion is shitty, it's true. But for some people, it's the lesser of two evils. If you've never been in the situation, you won't understand. Hell I haven't, and I don't. But at least I'm not trying to undermine people's choices. At least I recognize that I am far too privileged to understand a given situation, and I have no right to interfere without permission into someone's life.
KT thinks she's helping people, but she isn't. Because they didn't ask for her help, and she doesn't know how to help. How do you talk from privilege? How do you ask someone to consider an option that their money, status and skin colour CANNOT buy? It's not an option at all!
The other thing that pisses me off (related to all this) is the whole idea of asking God to end abortion. I mean what the fuck, really? They're not asking Him to solve the problems that lead to abortion, or to help the women who choose abortion out of the shitty situation they are inevitably in. They don't give a shit, they just don't want the babies to die. They don't care about the women, nor do they try to care. They don't understand the complexities of the issue at all. They just identify a situation that doesn't fit in with their sunny, rosy, WASPy vision of the world, and they pray for it to end, without giving a flying fuck about the people that NEED the option to be there.
These are the people that, if they wanted to "help" people in Burma, would ask God to end cyclones. As if that's the problem. Not poverty, debt, oppressive government, first world apathy, nothing like that. Just fucking cyclones.
So my point is, I like their enthusiam, I am appalled by their arrogance, ignorance and lack of self-examination. It's not their fault they are born of privilege, just like it's not my fault I am either. But it is their fault that they have no interest in analysing an issue they supposedly care so much about, and it is their fault they can't see past their own privilege in order to actually help people. Sorry for sounding extremely privileged and intellectually elitist, and probably hypocritical, but some things make me really mad. So there.