By Jessica Ensley
People on both sides of the political spectrum complain that the other side lives in a “bubble.” Recently I broke my bubble by attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Attending the March for Life as someone who staunchly believes in reproductive justice was something I knew would be difficult. Walking amongst the crowd I noticed just how white it was. Not only did I see few people of color, I saw no one wearing head coverings suggesting non-Christian faiths. I don’t imagine people wearing them would receive a warm welcome from the countless Trump supporters in attendance. There were quite a few “All Lives Matter” signs and shirts, yet pro-life organizations have been silent in the president’s recent executive order instating a Muslim ban and have continued to remain silent on police violence against Black people.
The March for Life seemed to be yet another celebration of the new administration by and for the right wing. Vice President Mike Pence and Kellyanne Conway spoke and made history as the highest-ranking White House officials to speak at the March for Life. Conway encouraged people to “protect and to promote the most precious gift in the world: the gift of life.”
Conway and Pence received thunderous applause from the crowd. Many people started to leave the National Mall after hearing Pence speak, which is a testament to just how much the pro-life movement is operates as a front for Trumpism these days.
The NFL’s Ben Watson was a speaker, and got across the main driving point of the March for Life and for the pro-life movement in general: Men need to be in charge. According to LifeSite, a pro-life ‘news’ platform, Watson said men have to “rise up and lead the charge” and “it is past time that (men) be the leaders, caretakers and providers that we were meant to be.”
The hyper-masculinity of the event was apparent not only through Watson’s speech. I saw many young groups of women being led by men, whether they were fathers or religious leaders. The most graphic signs, including one stating women who have abortions should be arrested, were held by men.
It wasn’t until I joined the abortion rights supporters’ counter protest that I realized just how aggressive some of the pro-life people would be.
Men made up the majority of the people who walked up to our counter-protest group. One man went up to another man in our group and said “Can I ask you a question, man to man?” The pro-abortion counter-demonstrator said he could ask any number of the women around and the pro-lifer said no, this was a man’s issue.
When the pro-lifers started to use signs to box in our group, it was the men who got into our personal space. It was the white men who asked the racist questions to the woman of color counter-demonstrating. It was the men who shoved their pro-life signs into our faces. When asked to get out of our personal space or stop talking to us, they said no. When they talked to us, they demanded a response. They saw it as their right. They became angry and agitated toward us.
The message was clear: not only was this a pro-Trump rally, this movement should be led by men. Orange, mean, aggressive men.
Women were of course in attendance, and I saw a few signs that stated they were anti-Trump and pro-woman. However, when your cause is rooted in removing autonomy from people, it is not “pro-woman.” When your cause is supported by our misogynistic president who brags about sexual assault and routinely trades in derogatory stereotypes, you are on the wrong side of history.
By going to the March for Life, I stepped outside my bubble and into another where “all lives matter” until that life is born. Where children are the future unless their skin is not white or they are born into a religion other than Christianity.
If living in my bubble means being alongside those who stand with justice, including reproductive justice, then I will happily live in my bubble. Of course we need to be aware of what happens outside our bubbles, which is why I went. But we do not have to accept taking away basic human rights, including the right to abortion. Eliminating access to abortion is not a matter of differing opinions – it is injustice.