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 ask 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 protestors. 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 protestors 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 protestors 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 protestors to intimidate or shame any of us into submission.
*All photos by Wolsey Bradley
Thanks so much for writing about this.
I can’t remember where I first read about the idea of making a donation to PP on behalf of protestors outside (possibly here in Skepchick), but I remembered it one day not long ago as I was driving along Mill Plain Boulevard in Vancouver, Washington. I live fairly close to the Planned Parenthood in Southeast Portland and never see protestors there, but a group of teenaged boys were standing outside the Mill Plain clinic with your typical signs with “pro-life” nonsense on them. The boys were wearing t-shirts from a local church.
I had time, so I pulled in and went into the clinic and handed over three twenties. Then I went out to the boys and told them I’d just donated on their behalf. They didn’t know how to respond, I think, so I just mentioned that my own daughter was very likely alive today because of the medical care her mother recieved at a Planned Parenthood clinic, and I didn’t appreciate a bunch of know-nothing fear mongers spreading lies and attacking an organization that helps millions of women. I added that if they really wanted to reduce abortion, they’d stop protesting Planned Parenthood and start promoting scientifically accurate sex education, including accurate contraception. Oh, and they should learn some themselves, because STDs and unplanned pregnancies were particularly high among abstinence only groups.
I have no idea if I got through to the boys, but it always feels good to support Planned Parenthood. Three cheers to Wolsey and everyone else who stands up to these zealots!
This post just made me go donate to PP. Thanks for reminding me.
Are there any legal restrictions to consider for publicly posting pictures of people who haven’t consented to such? I drive by them every day and would love to share some of my anger.
I believe that if you are in a place with no expectation of privacy, an amusement park say where they take your photo on the rides without asking first and then display them at the exit albeit temporarily, you are open to legally having your photograph taken. As long as there isn’t a profit being made from your visage or exploitation of some kind it is perfectly legal. I would think that openly protesting in a public place would preclude the expectation of privacy. The Westboro Baptist Church is photographed all the time without their permission for this reason.
The courts have the phrase, “no reasonable expectation of privacy”, and in the past have come down saying that getting public pictures is not a violation because of that. You can’t expect a reasonable expectation of privacy in public. That’s how paparazzi get away with being so over the top, if I recall. The same mechanism that allows them to be there, being a public sidewalk, is the same mechanism that lets me take photos. It’s also ironic that they want public attention, just not mine. When you engage in public activism, you don’t really get to pick and chose who notices, I suppose.
Of course, I’m not a lawyer at all. I just read Boing Boing, and they have a lot of photographer friendly stuff about public photography, so most of what I have picked up is there.
bOING bOING is awesome. smart people, there.
I have never seen protesters by the closest PP (Lakewood, CA) despite passing by hundreds, if not thousands of times. There is no direct street access since it is in a small shopping center and there is a parking lot between their doorway and sidewalk. Presumably the deluded could stand or parade on that sidewalk. Lakewood and adjacent Long Beach have dozens of churches; perhaps the anti-choice people are unorganized or disinterested. I have not been inside that PP and it may not offer abortion services; the crazies may know that and ignore for that reason.
When we talked to the volunteer escorts in my state, Washington, they said that not all the Planned Parenthoods in the state get this. There were three big sites. In my old hometown, which is smaller and super liberal, there was nothing but support for them. It wasn’t until I moved here that I accidentally stumbled upon this. Perhaps California is the same way. I’m sure your local Planned Parenthood folks would know which clinics are getting it, though.
Personally, I think it’s church related. Cities with churches that focus on this get more activity. A lot of these folks come from an area church, I believe.
Not directly related to this, but here’s an interesting political cartoon, on the abortion / reproductive rights issue
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