Monthly Archives: January 2009

Catholic University bars PLAGAL from Students for Life conference

Ever since Nellie Gray gave up having PLAGAL arrested at the March for Life, I’d hoped we were past this sort of thing:

On Saturday, January 24, 2009, hundreds of students will come to Catholic University in Washington DC to participate in a conference by Students for Life of America. Booths by sponsoring organization will be lined up to provide information to these students. But missing this year will be the booth staffed by the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL).

In the past PLAGAL has participated in the Students for Life conference at Catholic University with an overwhelmingly positive response from the students. It has been an opportunity to see and hear the pro-life message presented in a unique fashion and conference attendees have been eager to engage PLAGAL members in discussion about issues they may have never considered before.

This year, however, students will not have that opportunity. Officials at Catholic University are denying PLAGAL the opportunity to sponsor a booth. They maintain that they have a right to accept or deny sponsorship to any group coming onto their campus that is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Students for Life is considering finding a new venue for its conference in the future, for this and other reasons. I urge you to contact them to support that decision, and suggest alternatives if you know of any.

PLAGAL is trying to find out who to contact at Catholic University; I will post that information when they get it.

Mary Krane Derr on pro-life ecofeminism

I was very pleased to see that the National Catholic Reporter interviewed Mary Krane Derr about ecofeminism and abortion. Mary makes some good points about viewing abortion as part of a larger system of “interconnected forms of domination and destruction,” and also about treating others with compassion and empathy. It’s great to see this viewpoint get a wider audience.

Sanctity of (Some) Human Life Day

Via Feministing, I see that George Bush has declared January 18 Sanctity of Human Life Day, on which: “Our country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world.”

Our country recognizes no such thing, and never has, and the person who presided over the last eight years has a lot of nerve saying so.

The only appropriate response I can think of that doesn’t involve swearing is to renew my membership in Consistent Life.

Being an ally to women

Marysia asked what prompted my last post. It was no big deal, really — a relatively civilized abortion discussion on Atheist Nexus. Anyway, I’ve decided it doesn’t matter.

Yes, there are people out there who think that any opposition to abortion necessarily indicates misogyny. No, they’re not right. But the best way to rebut them isn’t to complain that they’re closed-minded (even when they are) or even to argue about it. The best way is to be the best ally to women that you can be. Every day, in all parts of your life.

I realize it sounds a bit crazy to talk about being allies to women when so many of us are women. Just to speak about my own position for a moment: I benefit from privilege by being white, middle-class, educated, and heterosexual. I am lucky in that I have a supportive family, my birth control has always worked, and if it didn’t, I have the resources I need to give my child a good life. There are women who don’t have all of that privilege and all of that luck, and I want to be the best ally I can be to them.

As Greta Christina wrote in her great post on how atheist groups can be better allies:

Learn about that group’s experience in the world. Learn what the common myths and misconceptions are about that group, and don’t perpetuate them. Learn what kind of language they prefer… and what kind of language insults them and pisses them off. Speak out against bigotry. Be inclusive — not fake, lip-service inclusive, but real inclusive. Don’t trivialize their anger, and don’t divide the group into “good” ones and “bad” ones based on who’s being angry and confrontational and who’s being polite and diplomatic. If you’re going to be critical, be very, very careful that you have both your facts and your context right. Find common ground. Be aware of your own privilege.

Pro-lifers, please think about that paragraph in terms of being an ally to women, including women who are pro-choice.

Being an ally means listening. It means not assuming that you know better than someone else what hurts them. It means not making everything about you. It means checking your privilege.

It doesn’t mean a knee-jerk agreement with everything any member of the less privileged group does. It doesn’t mean guilt, or self-flagellation. It does mean being open to the possibility that you don’t know everything. It means being humble enough to recognize, correct, and apologize for causing unnecessary hurt — even if it’s unintentional. Perhaps hardest of all, being an ally to women means being willing to take a hard look at yourself and consider whether any of your beliefs or actions may be rooted in internalized misconceptions of or disregard for women. Yes, that can happen to women too.

One more thing about being an ally? You don’t get to tell someone that you’re their ally, and that they have to believe you. It doesn’t work that way. You just have to do your best, and they get to decide whether they consider you their ally. Some people are never going to accept as an ally anyone who opposes abortion. And that may hurt, and you may think it’s unfair or misguided. You’re going to have to live with it.

this has particular resonance tonight

Whenever I get called “anti-woman” for opposing abortion, I feel the same way I feel when I’m called “anti-American” for opposing the Iraq War (or torture, or any of the other unjust acts our government has engaged in).

You needn’t bother telling me it’s not the same thing; I know it’s not. But consider the possibility that opposition to destructive acts can have other causes besides opposition to the interests of those in whose name the destruction is wrought.