COURTESY OF LORIE SHAULL/CC-BY SA 2.0
The organization Planned Parenthood provides women with health care.
For years now, I have proudly identified myself as an intersectional feminist. I’m minoring in Women, Gender and Sexuality (WGS) Studies and am currently working on an Honors Thesis project related to the history of fairy-tales and the implicit, gendered messages that they often contain.
As was the case for many women, watching Donald Trump be sworn in as President of the U.S. (words that I still struggle to believe I’m typing) felt like a living nightmare. His dangerous rhetoric, as well as that of Vice President Pence and, recently, Brett Kavanaugh, left me feeling especially inspired to channel my passion for women’s rights into concrete action.
With this in mind, I reached out to Planned Parenthood of Maryland regarding volunteering at their Baltimore location.
After getting to know the team there and going through the requisite training, this past January I began working as a volunteer at their Mount Vernon location. While there is definitely value in discussing theories and searching for solutions to social and political issues inside the classroom, none of the work I’ve done in my WGS classes have proved capable of imparting on me the sense of urgency that going out into the community, getting involved and seeing one’s allies and adversaries.
Last Friday, I was surprised to see a bevy of aggressive protestors outside when I arrived. Previously, I had seen a couple of stray individuals here and there trying to hand out flyers with misinformation to patients and passerby alike, but I had never felt truly threatened or intimidated.
However, this time, the crowd was so large that I was grateful for the help of the allied individuals that had stationed themselves outside so as to shield those entering from the indignant crowd, as well as for the presence of the kind security guard once I was inside in the building.
While I was already grateful for the work they do, the experience of being surrounded by such outraged individuals served as a reminder of the respect that those working day in and day out to provide such services deserve. Each day that they show up to work, their safety is potentially jeopardized, yet they continue to do so because they care deeply about the lives of the patients that they serve.
When I left later that day, initially I admittedly felt slightly disturbed and disheartened. I had to wonder how the individuals outside could possibly reconcile their purportedly Christian beliefs with their actions.
How could such people possibly believe that by cruelly shaming the women and men entering Planned Parenthood they were doing God’s work?
It was certainly a rude awakening to witness firsthand the opposition that pro-choice individuals like myself are up against, yet it ultimately left me feeling more determined than ever to stand up for my beliefs and work as an activist.