hawk eyed feminism: up yours, freedom of speech
Earlier this year, I wrote a short piece on my blog about protesters and the argument of freedom of speech. I think it’s worth a re-cap:
‘Every day on my way to work I walk past a women’s medical centre. Not really a notable observation except that this usually includes dodging a group of religious protesters. Occasionally my netball skills fail me and I am stopped and asked if I would like some rosary beads. Admittedly this has been tempting as I love jewellery *insert cheeky grin* but I always decline with a polite hand up as an aid to deflection and a firm “I am pro-choice” statement.
One guy brings photographs and a scaled replica doll of a baby fetus (more than distasteful) and many of the protesters say prayers and recite passages from The Bible. I feel deeply uncomfortable and offended as my right to control my own body is under attack. For women entering the clinic, this must be an extremely distressing experience on top of an already emotional situation.’
Clearly in the above situation, the protesters physical presence is likely to have a direct impact on the well-being of women entering the clinic. My question is whether the impact of the same messaging through a non-physical presence can have the same impact? Logic tells me that yes it can.
In the last few months we’ve heard ridiculous comments from all kinds of supposedly ‘important’ people about what women apparently can and cannot do with their bodies. Not only do these comments cause distress to many women, they have the added unfortunate power to influence individuals and decision makers.
It’s true that freedom of speech is a complex issue but as far as I’m concerned you can’t just whip it out like a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card.
I’m done listening to people argue that they have the automatic right to say what they like just because they were born with the ability to communicate. Women DO however have the automatic right to make decisions about their bodies and have their sexual and reproductive health rights upheld.
At the time of writing the above blog post I asked – ‘are these protesters simply exercising their right to freedom of speech?’ Well I’ve made my decision and like many women, I am over trying to express myself in a rational and constructive manner. As far as I’m concerned, in this case, the freedom of speech argument can simply go f*** itself.