You will likely catch this dynamic duo and friends at Forward every Saturday. Here's what R has to share about their experience taking up space at the capitol.
My Body, My Choice.
Prohibition of Abortion is Dangerous AF.
Abortion is Healthcare.
Forced Birth is State Violence.
Rapists can choose the mothers of their children.
All children deserve to be wanted.
There is no Equality without Reproductive Freedom.
This is about bodily autonomy.
I have really enjoyed crafting punchy signs that really get to the meat of what it is we are protesting about. When I see people walking by us and they nod their head, or give a thumbs up, or give us a “whoop,” or even a look of disgust - it brings me some joy. This joy, I guess, is derived from being seen and understood.
While we are standing by Forward at the capitol with countless people strolling by us, I have joked that this is basically a “real-life” social media, social media “unplugged.”
“Look we got another like,” I said, as someone passes by giving us a thumbs up and a small smile. Then someone emerges from the crowd, comes up and starts to talk to us, give us their story and thanks us for being there and for listening to them. At the same time an older man in a polo shirt walks by, his brow furrowed and the corners of his mouth pulling down even further as he reads our signs. An older woman sees one of us standing proudly, chest bare and without a care, and she scowls and shakes her head.
What could be considered a comment and two “angry faces.”
Then you make acquaintances and friends. People who see what we are doing and want to join. “Is this a group?”
“No, not really, this is just what we do on Saturdays. You are welcome to join.”
Then we all just keep meeting like this. Sharing this walk.
But there is something that is qualitatively different about these interactions than simply posting and scrolling. It may have something to do with the corporeal experience, of being outside, being in the sunshine, having face-to-face interactions with other people, and hearing them tell you their stories. It is more exhausting and more satisfying for me. It is also a bit more exhilarating and terrifying. I guess it is just…a bit more. The difference between a simulation of something and the thing itself.
This is not an essay on social media and its benefits and ills. It is, however, an essay on the simple power inherent in physically occupying spaces and declaring your truth. At Forward we show everyone who walks by that the fight for Abortion Rights and Reproductive Health Care is not over and that we are not afraid or ashamed to be here, to be seen, to be heard, and to continue to fight. We offer support to people who need it. We offer de-stigmatization by saying over and over again, “Abortion is Healthcare,” “Abortion is Normal,” and “Abortion is Fine.” Here we act as a conduit for direct action: letting people know where and how they can help, which organizations they can donate to or volunteer with, or just letting them know that they will be here next week and they are welcome to join us.
That pretty much sums up what I feel like we are doing here. Occupying space for abortion rights, reproductive healthcare, trans rights, the right to dress how you are comfortable, and just exist.
My body, my life, my right to decide.