Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Abortion Table

what is happening to women?

For the second week in a row, a few of us from our NOW chapter had a table at our farmer's market. In general, the experience has been extremely positive. Many women and men stop by for information about the organization, to give us 'thumbs up,' to thank us for starting this chapter, or to donate money. And yet, there are other responses, that are less than positive. There are three types of negative responses:

I. The curious market goer who takes a look at our table, glances at the NOW sign, and then quickly moves on with a rather indifferent or bored look. This reaction is common among men, usually in their late 40s-early 70s.

II. The market goer out with her friends, husband or family, who sees our table and gets a crinkled nose and angry eyes. She picks up her pace, grabs the hands of her daughters, and sort of sniffs.

III. The angry, female market goer, who circles the table, comes up a bit closer, looks over the literature, and shakes her head. A woman came by three times today doing that, so I finally asked her the logical question: "would you like some information about our organization?" She said, "No, not really," lingered a bit longer and left. Another woman was looking over our literature, we smiled at her and asked if she had any questions, and she said, "No, I am just looking at what you got here."

In general, the folks most angry with what we are doing are women. And, boy, their mean looks are difficult. But, they are never really confrontational. They don't yell obscenities or curse us out.

And, then today, a big man outfitted in Harley attire with a huge beard and cross that took up his whole chest finally created a new category: the hostile, anti-women's rights market goer. While we have a lot of literature on the table, dealing with a range of issue facing women, as well as some funny buttons and bumpersickers such as "well-behaved women rarely make history," he looked at our table and yelled "The ABORTION table," and then his wife whisked him away.

I was totally amused by this reaction, but I had expected to be afraid. What upsets me more, I am finding, is category II and III. But, so that I don't end this on a sad note, I have one inspiring story.

A woman, who was clearly in her late 70s, walked up to our table today. She started looking at the literature and smiled. She asked about our organization and then said:

I am completely for women's rights. You know, I always loved Gloria Steinem, do you know her?"

She then told me that she was one of 10 children: 6 girls and 4 boys. Her mother sent all of the children to college. And then she said:

"You educate a man, you educate an idividual. You educate a woman, and you educate the world."

She bought a pink bracelet that says "This is what a feminist looks like," shook my hand and thanked me for our work and walked off to buy some leeks.