Monday, 30 April 2012

SPUC off


There were SPUC anti-choice demonstrations around the country on Saturday. One of them was in Bristol, and so there was a bit of a counter-demo by pro-choicers from various groups; Bristol Feminist Network was strongly represented, and I noticed several anarchist flags. And just individuals who disagreed with This Sort Of Thing, and wanted to stand up and be counted. I was among the latter.

Bimbling over to St Augustine's Parade with Mal at 10.45, all was quiet except for an elderly bearded chap with a big bag of placards. "Are you here for the demo?" Mal asked. 
"Yes," he said. "Are you?"
"Oh, yes," said Mal.
"Which side- pro, or anti?"
"Oh, definitely," she said. And we wandered around a bit more.
Presently more people appeared; some more chaps with beards displayed their identical anti-choice banners, and an ever-swelling group on the other side of the road with a variety of placards. We joined them.

Presently, some of the pro-choice people went and mingled with the opposition.

Some attempted to engage with them, though not always successfully

Mal got talking with J, whose birthday it was. He told her why he was there among the anti-choice group. Just after the war, his mother was coerced into an abortion by her husband, who thought that they couldn't afford another child. So she went into hospital and went through the procedure, and then the medics pickled the foetus in preserving fluid and presented it to her, presumably to say "look, this is your fault!"
This was the story that he told Mal, and it seems intrusive to write it here, but it also seems to be a very graphic example of the evils of coercion. I think J and Mal found more to agree than to disagree upon.

Just before we left, Angry Christian Poet came over. "I've seen you at Halo," he said.
He had a beard, too.
"Oh! Yes, hello."
"Is the leader of your lot here?"
"Um.. yes." It didn't seem worth pointing out that there weren't any leaders.
"Would you give that to him?"
He presented me with a copy of a poem he'd written. I don't have it with me or I might have added it here. So you'll have to take my word for it that it was really quite a bad poem, as poetry and as propaganda.
"Not him, her" I said.

 edit: here are some other responses to the demo; first from the anarchists; and then a criticism of their actions from Hayley. The discussion following the latter post is interesting.


  1. I think the "poet" 's attitude just about sums it up, mainly. Not entirely, but mainly

  2. Agreed! Idea around feminist groups having a leader and that leaders are always men. It was an amazing day, full of feminist solidarity. Took me a while to warm up though once home - was freezing!

  3. Never ceases to amaze me how little faith people of faith have in their god being trusted to sort us all out at judgement day. Surely they don't want folks like us in their heaven!

  4. Free speech means those we don't agree with should have their say too (but I have to admit it rankles when they are free to say our choice should be taken away).

    I am glad to never have been faced with such a dilemma but I am glad the option is there. Being an atheist does not make me a bad person and I do find it hard to understand when folk think I have to abide by their religion. Seeing what women did back in the day when faced with an unwanted pregnancy is surely argument enough.