Today, I hugged a feminist. This, in some ways, is a slightly unusual occurrence. I’m not one for hugging strangers much. I also don’t agree with everything the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance does on my campus. Today, however, I was firmly on their side.
It has been one year since I first wrote about the so-called “Genocide Awareness Project” that comes to my campus each spring. Their methods are crude, heavy handed, and cruel. For two days they have haunted my campus, spreading sadness and sensationalism.
One of my co-workers is a proud mother. As she wrote on the comments board by the exhibit, however, she is a proud mother BY CHOICE. She was tired of the assumption that anyone who has a child out of wedlock must have done so due to being pro-life. We both were tired of the exhibit on campus each year. GAP has come every year for a decade. That is too many. FMLA has been petitioning the last few years to get the GAP forced out. This year, they went so far as setting up a booth just a few feet from the GAP boards.
My coworker and I were out on our lunch break and decided to hug us some feminists. So out we tottered. We walked past the gory pictures, thousands of times larger than life, of dead babies and children starving in Rwanda. We ignored the GAP representative’s attempts to engage us in conversation and distribute brochures. We walked up to the FMLA booth. The women (for they were all women) smiled and greeted us. They were more than happy to give hugs. We signed petitions, took stickers, and went on our way. I was glad to see many other students were doing the same. Ignoring (or trying to ignore) the over dramatized drivel towering above them and walking up to this group of women to show support and care. Not tearing women down and belittling them. But lifting them up. It felt good to see all the support.
I wore that sticker the rest of the day. It read, quite simply “It’s your choice… not theirs”. No statement on whether abortion is right or wrong or moral or immoral. Simply, you get to choose. Not them.
Strangely enough, after returning to work, I got the first pro-choice paper I’ve ever encountered. I have worked at the Writing Center for a year now, and this is the first one I’ve seen. I still had my sticker on. She said, simply, “I guess I don’t need to ask your view on it all”. To her credit, she was remarkably unbiased in her paper. She avoided logical fallacies, and used our differing viewpoints to strengthen her argument and identify its weaknesses, rather than becoming defensive.
I felt like today was an exercise in the different ways people deal with views differing from their own. Some evangelize and try and convert to their cause. Others protest. Still others hold their views fairly silently most of the time, confident in their reasoning, with a willingness to have an open and conducive dialogue when the time calls for it.
(Note: this post was written last night, so these events occurred yesterday)