Abortion Counterprotest in Pittsburgh Needs to Listen to Women

This is what what my friend Jodi Hirsh calls ‘the ultimate mansplain.’  I am reposting my own comments from Facebook with regard to the intent of a group of self-identified Socialists to organize a counterprotest in support of abortion rights, but IN SPITE of the wishes and experiences of Planned Parenthood, clinic escorts, patients and pro-choice activists across the region.

This is not okay. A group of 3 men and 2 white women are organizing an event to defend choice in spite of the vehement opposition of Planned Parenthood, clinic escorts, patients and more.

This counter-protest threatens our safe access to PP clinics. It shows disregard for the leadership of women and the experiences of women. It flies in the face of logic.

But mostly it says that these men do not trust Planned Parenthood and do not trust women. They are taking action on our behalf much like all of the Republican men who sign anti-choice legislation do. Their opinions matter more than anything else.

Listen to women, socialists. Listen to women and demonstrate the capacity to model political resistance where men center women’s experiences instead of their own.

Please do not support this counterprotest. There are plenty of ways to work for women, with women on that very day.

Jodi left this comment on the Facebook event which is now removing criticism.

One after the other, patients, PP staff, clinic escorts–all women–are telling the event organizer that this is a well-intended but poorly executed way to show support for reproductive justice. I cannot spend any more time on it today, but I will say this: it is incredibly discouraging to watch one man’s–a purported progressive socialist, no less–repeated refusal to listen to the loud and knowledgeable voices of women. This obstinance is resulting in the occupation of so much time, space, and energy that could be used to fight those in power who seek to destroy us. This is really the ultimate mansplain, and it’s an enormous shame.

It is a shame. I suspect the event organizers will become more fixed in their determination to organize an event that they believe is the right course of action. And these deep fissures can’t be overcome by refusing to listen to one another. Women must continue to speak out, speak up and speak again when necessary. It is a great disgrace for the left to have leaders who reinforce the toxic masculinity that runs rampant on the right.

What’s more upsetting is that some of these men were involved in the Intersectional Feminist March a few weeks ago. Clearly, we have so much work to do to really wrestle with these matters.

If you are interested in supporting Planned Parenthood and all who rely on their healthcare services, I highly recommend this event. I can’t in good conscience recommend you scare vulnerable people seeking healthcare simply to make a point.


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