Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 88: Positive and Productive Protests

I never wanted to change the world until I had kids. I don't know exactly what it is about becoming a parent that stirs up these desires, but it seems to be pretty common. Maybe it's that having a child is the only thing that can truly pull a person outside of themselves and their own interests so completely. Whatever the case, I suddenly cared deeply about things like nutrition, birth, breastfeeding, circumcision, feminism, human rights, medical ethics, freedom of choice, and all manners of equality. Things that weren't even a blip on the radar now consume my life.

If I could clone myself, I'd be at every capitol march and every public hearing, I'd be writing articles, letters, and emails and making phone calls daily. But of course I'm only one person, so I settle for doing all the things I can with the time and resources I have. And while posting a profile picture and passing on articles in support of World Breastfeeding Week or Genital Integrity Awareness Week is a small part of that, there's something else I see as much more valuable, much more productive: Community.

A few days ago, I happened to drive by our local Planned Parenthood to see a (very) small group of individuals pacing with "Respect Life" signs. I got unexpectedly angry. And if I hadn't had to get home, it would've been enough to motivate me to pull over and strike up a conversation.

How they think that providing a negative presence and directing that energy at people who are already in a negative place is supposed to produce a positive result is beyond me.

If they want to end abortion they should start by getting involved in the community instead of wasting their time circling on the sidewalk. If they truly cared about babies, they'd be actively supporting those babies' mothers, not silently carrying cardboard messages of disapproval. If they want to protect life, they should be actively loving women in our community so perfectly that those women embrace their innate value and strength to the point of feeling capable of motherhood.

I care about babies and life, I'd love to see the end of abortion, but self-righteous picketing and targeting legal rights don't make my list of ways to bring that to fruition. And that goes for all the other causes I'm passionate about. If we want to change the world, we have to start by promoting a positive change, not attacking what we see as negative.

So here are my positive and productive protests, and I hope you'll take a minute to think about yours (and share them!):

I protest the cultural and industry breastfeeding sabotage by offering support to every single mother who comes across my path and, through friends of friends, many I'll never meet, by actively participating in my local breastfeeding community and encouraging other women to do so, and by openly and confidently breastfeeding my children where ever I am, in whatever I'm wearing, no matter who's present, and no matter what age my child is.

I protest the unethical withholding of circumcision information by the medical community by being open about our choice to keep our sons intact and honest about its damaging and right-revoking nature when I'm met with an open and wondering ear, and by supporting mothers whose strength wavers in the face of cultural or family expectations.

I protest the dismal quality of our food system by making good nutritional choices for my family and not compromising that based on cultural expectations, by helping other mothers find their way to the best nutrition for their families, by supporting local food sources, and by spreading awareness about infringements upon our rights within the system.

I protest the stripping of a woman's birthing power by the routine labor and delivery system by openly sharing my birth experiences, by supporting every pregnant woman I have the privilege of meeting, and by cheering every woman on to empowerment, to seeing herself and her body as perfectly-designed, capable, and strong.

I protest the stripping of personal freedoms by standing up for the rights of those I don't agree with. By championing all causes that promote personal choice, regardless of how I feel about those choices.

I protest the mistreatment of children by supporting and validating mothers, by offering information to those who feel their options are limited, who want to find a peaceful way to coexist with their children but don't know how, by treating my own children with the respect and dignity they deserve, by offering a new way of looking at children and the parent-child relationship, and by encouraging mothers to follow their instincts.

I'm proud to say that my children will grow up in a community and witness my passionate involvement in that community; and they will be better for it. Caring for others will be second nature to them, and seeing through the issues to the people will come naturally. A genuine desire to promote positive change in their world will just be a part of who they are, and championing a cause will be so much more meaningful to them than waving a sign. Now if we could just get the rest of the world on board!


  1. This is very wonderful to read... Even if you and I don't see eye to eye on certain topics, I love that you are more than willing to give support (anyway you can) to everyone you can. Thanks! Xoxo...

  2. Great post. :) Way to give voice to a tricky issue and get to the heart of it... Megan

  3. I am not disagreeing with your ideas, but you might not be aware that the times I have been at Planned Parenthood, women that wanted alternatives to abortion, but didn't know where to go, came to the sign holders (because they were respectful and kind), asked, and received help to continue their pregnancies (the Planned Parenthood doesn't offer pre-natal care). The people who stand in front of abortion clinics aren't all there to voice disapproval, some are there to offer help and alternatives. As in any "cause", there are a variety of methods and motivators for those involved, and a broad brush can not be used to assume the intentions of the entire group.

    BTW, I came here from Authentic Parenting and enjoyed your article on Taming your Temper. I am a "veteran" mom, but was gratified for that information today. Thank you.

  4. @MPN: I really appreciate your comment! If you read The Real About Me, you know that my is to paint everything with broad strokes, so I'm so glad you brought it up. It's true that all causes have militant, hypocritical, and moderate subscribers and every variation in between. I know I'd not like to be lumped in with quite a few of those who happen to fall into certain "categories" with me ;) I'm surprised, but glad to hear that protesting leaves an open door for those looking for one. I don't think I'd personally approach someone with a sign for help, but if others do, then I'm glad they're there.

    And it's quite a compliment to hear a thank you from a veteran mom. So thank *you* :D