Saturday, July 19, 2014

Protesting, fashionably


Supporters of Fredericton's Morgentaler Clinic chant 'Not enough' on Friday in response to a Liberal promise to 'move swiftly' to deal with medicare payments for abortions if elected in September.
the young people who inspire me to show up


I spent the last 25 years being very politically and socially neutral.  In the position I was in, it was critical to be perceived as completely non-partisan.  Furthermore, as an employee of government, it wasn't exactly kosher to come out publicly to critique one's boss.  Career-limiting to say the least.

However, I find myself at the age of 51 suddenly free to have opinions.  This has been a shock.

The first few times I did it, I did it tentatively, anxious to offend no one.

And to be truthful, I don't want to offend anyone.  

But this past year I have actually protested in front of my provincial legislature three times, most recently on the topic of the woeful state of reproductive health services for women where I live.  So yesterday, my friend Mary and I marched with women half our age, and quite a few men, to protest the closure of the only clinic in New Brunswick that provides women with access to safe affordable abortions.

morgentaler-rally3
Mary is on the far left of this photograph here!


Before I get hate comments about supporting abortions, I should say this: I am uncomfortable about abortions.  I doubt I would have one.  But I will fight to the death for a woman's, not a state's, right to choose what happens to her body.

So we marched and chanted and clapped and booed.  

Protesting is a new and interesting experience for me.  For example: what to wear?  In this case, it was hot, so I wore a white linen top, a silk max studio skirt, and espadrilles.  I may have been over-dressed compared to my fellow marchers.  I guess I'll have to learn how to do this better.

I often feel uncomfortable protesting.  But since I am in the position that I can protest without being punished (and in New Brunswick, you can be punished in your job or in other ways for speaking out - we have a media monopoly here and so many are government employees of government or of the Irving Corporation that owns everything) I feel that I must, as I have so many friends who say that they wish they could be there, too, but cannot for the reasons above.

marching cartoon humor: 'Why's your sign blank?' - 'It's my day off'

Finding my public voice has been an exhilarating experience, and mostly, I leave such thoughts to to my Facebook page, since it is followed in the main by people who live near me. 

I am a firm believer that protests and letter writing campaigns by the public, coupled with turning out the vote, are the only things that keep government in check.  And I say this from the experience of being 25 years on the inside and seeing how politicians panic when they are criticized.

But next time, I'll dress down a little....  Anyone else out there protesting anything these days?

Have a great Saturday - stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy


34 comments:

  1. Well hopefully you do not get any nasties about this topic. I do find it amazing, at least here n the good ol US of A, men seem to be the most fanatical about anti abortion, contraception now in healthcare, etc. I have never protested at a rally but yes, there are several things I stand for quite openly and unashamedly. Being in the Bible Belt can be difficult but ...my two sense nobody wants to use abortions as a method of birth control. For those that are in circumstances it is their right by law to seek one, for those that want a child it is hard to convince them it's not their baby at four weeks gestation. Pro choice goes hand in hand with euthanasia. I want to have a voice in decisions that should be solely mine.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, I know it is controversial topic. The funny thing is I have also had to protest about my pension and will likely have to do it on some other issues as well. Never in a million years thought I would have to protest my government, but we appear to be going backwards here, not forwards...

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  2. I admire your passion. How freeing it must feel to express your opinions. I was never good at censoring myself which is why the entrepreneurial life suits me well! Having moved from the anything goes city to a more conservative town has been odd for me. Lots of people have opinions on my opinions. It's a bit claustrophobic at times!!

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    1. Jen - I think you are right - best work offside and without constraints and that is exactly where I am now!

      Are you out in Ford Nation?

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  3. Yay Wendy-- you go, girl. Women's health was my field back in Providence for many years. Don't get me going about providing viagra without proper BC for women...

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    1. well our conservative government just invested money in fertility treatments but not unwanted pregnancies AND don't want sexual health services for kids in our schools. sigh...

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  4. Wendy - I think that protesting especially here in England is rarely done anymore. I went on two protests about a decade ago - one was the anti war and the other was the anti hunting one both in the UK. Neither worked. then of course they made a law that makes it unlawful to gather in more than a certain number without a permit...The younger generation don't really seem to protest anymore - they just "like" a button on facebook so there are lots of keyboard warriors. If the government in any country want to shut them down then the least they can do is pump more money into childcare. Religion/personal beliefs and government do not mix very well.

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    1. Is there a law about that N? I had no idea.

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    2. Yes!! you can't just protest willy nilly because it is considered unlawful gathering! and you cant protest outside parliament and the only exception is that one bloke who was there before 9/11! and this is from the same country that produced the magna carta.

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    3. That is so bizarre! There are lots of protests around here and often even camps of protesters set up on parliament hill!

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  5. Hi Wendy, I totally thought about you when I saw this on the news last night, but I couldn't see you in the crowd. I agree with you - I don't think I would ever have had an abortion, but I absolutely think it's necessary to allow women their right to one. And as Lane says, the double standard is appalling!

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  6. I applaud you for having the chutzpah to write this post. I don't think many women start out 'waning' to have abortions but if circumstances lead a woman to that decision then I am 100 percent behind them.

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  7. I don't know what I'd wear if I were to protest. If you're going to keep it up, you're going to have to do a study for us on what people wear to protests! :)

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    1. Cate - there was a lot of purple hair in the crowd...

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  8. Cate - pack your Doc Martins just in case!

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    1. Tabs - I just ordered short motorcycle boots...

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    2. Oh you are so cool, I have always wanted them.

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    3. Wendy could dye her hair purple and borrow my Doc Martens! Now for the rest of the outfit...?

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    4. Tabs - these are cheapies (well not cheap to me, IYKWIM, but I have watched them go down from their original $200 to $130 and jumped! Cate - I see black and punk tees with logos like: hands off my body? Or: get out of my body/pocket book or : stop selling us out to big business. Or just the sex pistols. They are always protest appropriate, don't you think?

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    5. I think you could go with any of those and never wrong with the Sex Pistols of course. I think your signage is more important, though. You need a poster, get yourself on the news, etc. Or chain yourself to something ;) But then if you do all that, you want to be wearing the right protestor clothes...

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  9. Good on you for doing this.
    (Re causes...We campaign for Gay Rights in all sorts of ways.)

    We just went to see a comedy (yes!!??) about abortion (Obvious Child fantastic movie) and shows that no one takes this decision lightly but it is an option that is needed.
    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-obvious-child-abortion-jenny-slate-20140122-story.html

    Funnily enough, I've never ever had this abortion conversation with friends as I've always assumed they think the same! We all send our kids to a catholic high school and we are all pro women's rights.

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    1. Jody - my friends are all in my camp. The problem is that the government isn't and we have no access to safe abortions in NB unless 2 doctors deem it medically necessary. You'd think we live in the 1950s not the millennium teens....

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    2. The thing about 2 doctors I find preposterous - here in Ontario it's a chore just to find one doctor who will take you on!!

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    3. and there are only two who will likely do it in the whole province anyway as it is such a hot button issue!

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  10. That's terrible they're shutting the clinic down. Agree with all the points you've made… I have to admit to never protesting on anything. My mum used to talk about taking part in the Vietnam War protests when she was at University, and how daring it was. I have to say that unfortunately a lot of protests here are taken over by a rabid mob, and are not peaceful or moderate. Even if I agree with what they're protesting about I don't feel aligned with the people protesting.
    Hope you work out your protesting outfit though - although always better to be overdressed than underdressed! xx

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    1. Heidi - love that your mum protests! When I was at uni there was the whole anti-apartheid thing as well as letter writing for amnesty international. Then I had to shut up for my job! And since I am not a member of an political party, it is quite freeing, because you can critique. I did upset a friend's mum yesterday and I did feel terrible about that; you don't want to offend people, but so many people around here never express their opinions and the government takes it as a tacit approval!

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  11. Hi Wendy, I'm late to this post, but just wanted to say good for you for doing this, I am so impressed. I've never participated in a public protest - the most I have ever done is sign petitions and written (email) letters to politicians. It is very sad that New Brunswick's government seems to be stuck in the 1950s when it comes to abortion rights. Why on earth does it require 2 doctors to deem it medically necessary? Are they trying to force women to stay barefoot and pregnant at home, because that seems to be the overarching message when they are funding fertility treatments, while limiting access to abortions and wanting to remove sex ed. from high school. Under such circumstances, it is no wonder that young people, esp. young women, feel they have no choice but to move away to escape such condtions. I know a lot of people are not comfortable with abortions, but I think it is not right for a government to impose their moral views on the individual. It is a woman's choice and her body, and she should have the right to make that choice.

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  12. Yay Wendy! You go girl! My mother was quite active in the women's movement in PEI when I was growing up, and it's so frustrating to see these hard-won battles for reproductive rights undone so soon. It's backwards and wrong, and the hypocritical stance of male politicians is infuriating. We all need to stand up and shout- recent actions by Harper to quietly undo many of the programs Canadians are proud of mean some shouting at the federal level id overdue!
    As to wardrobe I think anything goes- I recall wearing headbands with spring-loaded googly-eyes to peace marches in NY and Washington as a child (and my tears when said headband got lost got my picture in the paper...unfortunately I wasn't really crying for world peace!). Besides, silk skirts in summer are divine.

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  13. Just got to this one Wendy! My grumpy face in the crowd should scare a few politicians into doing the right thing I would think!

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  14. I am late here, but just wanted to say congrats!

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Kindness is a virtue...