The A**holes Outside Planned Parenthood
I’m just back from Geek Girl Con and it was fan-freaking-tastic. Such a great convention, run by great people with a professionally run vendor room, brilliant panels, concerts, science activities and a literal bucket-load of other inspiring activities. This is my 3rd year going to GGC (I’ve been there since the first!) and I hope to be able to attend every year. It’s one of my favorite events.
One of the best things about Geek Girl Con is all the amazing people you get to meet. Many of the women in attendance are names you may recognize, such as Amanda Marcotte, Lindy West or Anita Sarkeesian. But it is some of the not so well-known people out there doing grassroots activism that really get my heart pumping. One such character that I had the pleasure to meet is an awesome person by the name of Wolsey Bradley.
Wolsey runs an activist tumblr called, “Assholes Outside Planned Parenthood.” The purpose of the tumblr is to document the people who stand outside of a Planned Parenthood with the intent of shaming women who go there for medical care.
Wolsey rarely interacts with the people and instead takes, often long shots, from a car or across the street, of the people who spend their time trying to intimidate the women in need of an abortion or other reproductive care given by Planned Parenthood. The tumblr as a whole serves as a wonderful documentary art project and a perfect analogy that brilliantly illustrates the distance and separation, both in ideology and in the understanding of the need for medical care, of the religious-anti-choice groups and, well, the rest of us.
These photos perfectly display the disconnect between what women need in terms of reproductive health care, and what the anti-abortion, religious-right want.
I asked Wolsey to explain why they made this tumblr...
I do this because I was floored that this happens. In my teens, I had a pregnancy scare. Planned Parenthood tested me, then got me on birth control. As someone that often “dressed as a boy” they were nonjudgmental. I’m now 41 and out as trans*, and without that level of nonjudgmental care back then, I’m not sure I would have gotten the birth control I needed. It was a life saver. Pregnancy is not something I, as a trans man, want to ever go through. Abortion was always the only option for me if my birth control failed, until I got a tubal ligation.
Fast forward to this year, I moved right next door to a Planned Parenthood. Just walking back and forth, I was approached by people pushing poorly worded misinformation pamphlets about the horrors of abortion, and birth control, and I was furious. I was a nurse for a decade, so bad medical information is not just a pet peeve, but something I think is dangerous.
They are far less about being anti-abortion, and more about shaming women for being sexually active. There are all sorts of great ways to reduce the rates of abortion out there with good science backing behind them.
Link to a post I wrote about it:
One thing that absolutely does not reduce abortion rates is standing on the sidewalk with a sign, shaming women.
One day, after another old white guy decided to tell me about how birth control was causing breast cancer, (LIES!) I stalked into the clinic and gave them every last dime in my wallet. I then went out, joked with the Planned Parenthood escorts, and took pictures of the protesters. Then, it was ten minutes later I had a tumblr. Mostly it’s because I feel helpless watching bad, inaccurate information, and sexist shaming of women, that I felt I had to do something. Anything.
For my part, taking pictures of the protesters is a way to shine more light on them. A lot of them are very uncomfortable with being identified publicly as anti-Planned Parenthood. Some of them don’t come back after I take pictures of them outside the clinic.
Even then, it would take ten of me to keep track of all of them. I keep hoping others will take pictures of the protesters at any Planned Parenthood, and submit them as well. Public disapproval is a powerful tool, and I’m hoping it helps keep them from harassing the people that need medical care at any Planned Parenthood. My blog is open to submissions.
Thank you so much Wolsey! It was great meeting you and I look forward to meeting other cool activists just like you. Keep up the great work.
Now go follow the Assholes Outside Planned Parenthood tumblr and if you can, submit your own photos too! Women have a right to safe and legal reproductive health care. Don’t allow the religious protesters to intimidate or shame any of us into submission.
Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a visual artist who resides in the heart of Hollywood, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and kicks ass on a daily basis. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy
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