Anti-choice bigot attacks pro-choice organiser in Belfast

Date:

This is a personal account from a member who was recently subjected to a sexist, homophobic attack. This post mentions male violence, anti-choice mentality, and the toxicity of masculinity.

Toxic masculinity has been a trending topic of discussion lately with the case of Brock Turner who raped an unconscious woman and received a meagre 3 months in jail for his atrocious crime, and the homophobic Orlando shooting committed by Omar Mateen a week ago which claimed the lives of 49 people and injured over 50.

While these conversations have been based in US cases, this is in fact a universal problem that we must deal with.

Last Friday, I was working in my local co-operative café and went out for a few pints after with some friends in a pub that is decorated in left wing memorabilia that has a clientele to match. Among my friends was someone who is organising the Rally for Choice with me and four others. She was enthusiastically telling those around us about the Rally and encouraging people to participate.

s the pub was closing and we were leaving she went to double check with a friend of hers if he was still able to make the Rally. He was stood with two men she didn’t know, she then invited the strangers to join us at the Rally. At that, the toxic masculinity that we have heard so much about recently and that we experience daily, reared its ugly head.

One of the men branded her a murder, and in true “pro-life” (read: anti-choice) fashion declared that any woman who has an abortion should be killed. Upset and shocked by this she left the conversation and asked me to sit down so that she could tell me what had just happened.

Little did we know the misogynist in question was listening around the corner. When my friend told me what he said I responded with “what a scumbag, are you serious?!”, at that the misogynist jumped in front of me and started aggressively shouting. I turned to my friend and asked if this was the guy, she confirmed it was him. While he continued to call me a murderer I got a word in and responded with “You ARE a scumbag, you think women who have abortions should be killed!”
At that he leaned in closer to me, I raised my hand in between our faces and asked him to back off telling him that I wasn’t comfortable with him being so close. Unable to understand why I was not accepting his entitled action to brand me a murderer he grabbed my wrist and started squeezing hard.
I started shaking my hand in an effort to get free when another friend grabbed him and pulled him off me. Before I knew it a group of people had dragged him outside.

Determined not to let a misogynist ruin my night out I insisted to my friends that I was ok and that we should continue on with our plans to move to a club. As we were leaving one friend informed me that he was stood to the left, we decided we would therefore turn right at the exit.

I walked out with my head down not wanting the misogynist to see me and trying to make as little trouble for me and my friends as possible. I heard the misogynist talking loudly about me, I did not react. Frustrated at my lack of response, he then started shouting, calling me a “fat, ugly, cunt”, followed by “dyke”.

As I turned to give him the finger I saw him running straight for me. Two of my friends who were walking behind me jumped in to block him from reaching me. In the midst of his attempt to attack me from behind I was knocked against the wall, very mildly injuring my face and head. He continued attempting to attack as four or five people held him back with him screaming insults at me and attempting to harm me.

A group of men took him across the road to calm him down. My friends and I were brought back inside the now empty pub. We then established he was shouting that he was adopted, and “if it was for you lot I would have been aborted”.

The Toxicity of the Attack:
This whole incident reeks of male entitlement; ‘if you won’t have a man’s baby you should be killed’, ‘if you disagree with me I will attack you’, ‘if you think women should have control over their bodies I will attack you’, ’if you don’t look or act the way I think a woman should I will attack you’.

His rationale as well, that if abortion had have been legal he would have been aborted is rubbish. Abortions take place regardless of whether or not they’re illegal; they have always happened and they always will. This further adds to this individualistic notion that something is only important if you can make it about you; never mind that women die from a lack of abortion rights, he was adopted so we shouldn’t take control over bodies, and if you try he will attack you.

It was only after the attack, when my friend and I pieced together the events - three pints combined with pumping adrenaline took its toll on my memory - that I remembered him shouting dyke at me, thanks to my friend informing me that he did so. Before this I was trying to figure out why I was attacked, it wasn’t me who engaged him in discussion, by the time he came into contact with me he was already extremely aggressive and confrontational. I suspected it was because of my sexuality as I am queer but I didn’t want to jump to that conclusion.

So why is it that all that happened to this man - who is somewhere in his 50s, who attacked a 22 year old queer woman - was he was calmed down. He faced absolutely no repercussions for his actions by the men who were in a position to do so. There is nothing to stop him from attacking the next woman who expresses a pro-choice opinion, and now that he has been let away with it there is every chance that he will be even more aggressive.

The message that has been sent to him is that it’s ok to go around attacking women. The message I have been sent is, you better not talk about choice unless you’ve been to a few self-defence classes.

If he was a neo-nazi would he have been handed the same impunity by the men who were calming him down? If he was a member of Pegida he would have been given the same treatment that they were handed in February in Dublin when they were chased and beaten off our streets.

So why is it that misogynists are calmed down and fascists are sent to the hospital? What occurred on Friday was fascism; a toxic mix of fascism and misogyny at that.

Less than a week after Orlando, a man shouts “dyke” and charges at me and still, he is only calmed down?

My friends protected me and I am extremely grateful for that, but it shouldn’t have been up to them; the doorman, whose job it is to protect the people in the pub should have dragged him from the premises and ensured my safety. Those who calmed him down should have dealt with misogyny and homophobia by making sure he woke up the next morning knowing what he did was wrong and that it will not be tolerated.

He should be the one who fears walking around that area; I shouldn’t have been the one feeling nervous and anxious when I got off my bus in the same area yesterday for fear that he could be there.

This is the kind of man who would be gunning down patients and workers in Planned Parenthood clinics if he was in the US. This is the kind of man who treats women like punch bags and incubators.

His extremism isn’t far off that of the anti-choice group Precious Life who recently called for a 22-year-old mother to be jailed for life for having an abortion when she was 19. One wants women locked up, the other wants them dead, both of them hate women.

Anti-choice views are misogynist views and misogyny attacks us; it kills us.

his type of behaviour cannot go unchallenged and the laws that form as a result of them must be destroyed.

Join us on the 2nd of July to participate in the very thing that drove him to a physical confrontation, the thing that sparked off his rage; the fear that we are getting organised, that we are close to achieving autonomy over our own bodies. To a misogynist, women gaining any rights in society is terrifying, the thought of women standing up for ourselves is unbearable, and the sight of us taking to the streets in anger that we continue to be treated in this manner is too much for them to take.

Rally for choice to take a stand against misogyny. Rally for choice in solidarity with this queer organiser, for my liberation is intertwined with the struggle for autonomy.

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