When I arrived at the rally for abortion rights on Saturday I noticed a lot of things. I noticed that it was small, I noticed that it was covered in the posters and banners of socialist parties and the sex party and I noticed that what these parties had brought to the table was a whole heap of men. Men holding signs demanding that Julian Assange be brought home, holding megaphones and leading chants.
Now I’m all for a broad church of a feminist movement, and when it comes to equality for women and reproductive rights we need as many allies as we can get, but a woman’s right to bodily autonomy begins and ends with women. While we need supporters and there is a place for men within this issue men cannot be leading this issue. To arrive at a rally organised by the left and find that the speakers in particular are all men is a pretty big problem.
The man that was leading the protest decided to start a chant about women’s right to walk freely on the streets (why at a pro choice rally this was a thing I don’t know) and he said “we like to say, these streets are ours!”. No one chanted back (small victories). While I’m sure he had the best of intentions his actions pointed out all the reasons why progressive men sometimes really don’t get it.
Melbourne is still on edge after the tragic events that happened to Jill Meagher, women in particular are on edge, the chant about taking back the streets is a powerful one when spoken by women, a menacing one when chanted by men. A reminder when one isn’t needed.
Left wing men seem to think that they are above reproach in their actions of support. Their actions time and time again, most recently on Julian Assange, show that there are many who believe they have as much right to speak on women’s issues.
When men think they have more of a right to speak than women on our issues we our autonomy and they lose all of the context.
There were many men at this protest wearing the masks of ‘anon’ a mantle which is used every day to harass and abuse women on the internet. So many men covered their faces with scarves. This was meant to be a pro choice protest, not a soap box opportunity for the issues of men.
What struck me most about these men was that they had hijacked our protest, our issue, when we asked them to take down their Julian Assange posters, or let a woman go on the megaphone they ignored us. Proudly chanting ‘our body, our choice’. Our bodies theirs, our issues and our protest theirs. The left had taken over, but don’t call them sexist because they’re really progressive.
What do you think?