#Occupied: the NSW Right to Life Conference

On Saturday, this Right to Life event took place. Except that it didn’t, because feminists occupied it. Or, if you like, #destroyedthejoint.

NSW Right to Life invited the lovely David Bereit (pronounced bee-rite) to speak at their conference dinner on Saturday night while he does a speaking ‘tour‘ of Australia.

If you’ve followed any of the links above, I don’t have to tell you that this man is proud to announce that he has closed 23 abortion centres. He was national director of Stop Planned Parenthood. He started 40 days for life. He is vile and he wants to take away women’s control of their bodies, and trans* folks bodies too.

*Some feminists* (no names) were motivated enough to want to interrupt this guy. We wanted to let him know that he is not welcome to fuck us over, to try to change the culture of reproductive rights in Australia. We wanted to take direct, non-violent action to make sure the people peddling this stuff know that they are not unopposed – in fact their opposition (that’s us) is strong, tough and amazing. We wanted to take our glittery, beautiful, feminist fight to those who want to take away our control of our bodies. So we did.

The sister of the offending ballet flat. I may frame her.

We went to North Ryde RSL and threw a glittery ballet flat at him, in homage to other inspiring activists who have used this symbol to make their voices heard. We yelled “this is for all the women who’ve died in backyard abortions.” The room went silent. They heard us.

Two feminists then occupied the floor in front of the lectern. Our comrades rushed in to join us at the front. One of us took over the lectern and spoke about women’s rights to control their bodies. We played Peaches (fuck the pain away). Some of us gave attendees at tables our ‘prayer for women everywhere,’ which you can see here (PDF): Prayer 1.

We stood proudly in a row in front of the audience. We ruined their meal.

We glitter bombed the audience. We used glitter and pink shoes and music to have fun and show that resistance against oppression is beautiful. We did it to contrast their conception of femininity as passive, a chalice for ‘new life,’ with our ideas of liberated femininity. Our femininity is empowered, and on Saturday night, it was about action, fierceness, non-violent resistance, solidarity and strength.

Mary Lee Sargent, a mother of feminist direct action, says of women (this web page is poorly formatted but worth reading!):

We have been socialized to fear physical danger, discouraged from taking risks and engaging in deeds of daring- do… Despite these obstacles, what leaps out at anyone who reads the newspapers is that women are resisting injustice. For those who look, it is also evident that women have always resisted injustice and will continue to resist it in the future.

We did it. More on this soon.

17 Responses to “#Occupied: the NSW Right to Life Conference”
  1. Tessa says:

    Sounds amazing! Wish I could have taken part. Great to know that feminists took a stand against this rubbish.

    • Amy says:

      Hitler’s Brown Shirts used to do the same to opposition meetings.

      • Whoa! Hitler’s brown shirts were into glitter bombing?

        Seriously, we left their AGM alone. That’s their business. But a conference dinner where they’re encouraging David Bereit peddling the idea that women’s bodies are public property to other members of the public? Fair game.

        Pretty sure Hitler’s brown shirts weren’t defending women’s rights, and therefore democracy and freedom. Oh that’s right, they were oppressive fascists who murdered Jews and anyone else they hated.

        We were explicitly non-violent.

        But thanks for the history lesson.

      • Maggie says:

        This, as Leo Strauss would point out, is an example of ‘argumentum ad Hitlerum’, i.e. the notion of guilt by association rather than any genuine, logical connection. Congratulations: you’ve stated an absurdity!

  2. The media keep trying to tell us young women are “not interested” in feminism. Maybe young women are just too busy BEING feminists?

    Well done, “some feminists”, very well done!

  3. Rachel C says:

    Phenomenal work!! Wish I could have been a part of it. Truly inspiring to see other women standing up for themselves. I am telling everyone I know about your upcoming events.

  4. Awesome, good on you all.

  5. whatliberalsactuallybelieve says:

    I’m so god damn proud of you women right now.

    • Thanks! We are super proud too, and all the support isn’t going astray either 🙂 In fact I just got a big smile on my face again re-reading your comment.

      Something I didn’t make clear in the post is that we were a gender diverse crew. We were one genderqueer, eight women, one butch &/or masculine of centre, and one bloke. I think I’ve got that right. Obvo love the ladies, just wanna make especially sure our queer peeps (and our wonderful man-comrade) get the kudos also.

      Thanks again!

  6. John in Melbourne says:

    Firstly, kudos where it’s due. You stood up and made your voices heard. But then I ask myself “Did you REALLY make your voices heard?” I mean, all the people who were at that dinner would have been there because they’re on the ‘anti’ side of the abortion line, so it’s not like you’re going to change anyone’s minds. There’s just no point to what you did, aside from steeling the resolve of every single person there to work harder against abortion rights, giving a few hundred dollars to right to life nsw for those that attended the dinner and made the david beriet thing worldwide news. In other words, what you did probably worked AGAINST what you’re setting out to acheive. Answering rhetoric, vitriol and tired old slogans with your own rhetoric, vitriol and slogans won’t actually win you any friends, let alone battles. Next time maybe think about how you can actually present something that might get people thinking: drop the cheesy, self-agrandizing sloganeering and actually present the science and logic that’s so clearly on our side. You won’t win over any right to lifers but then who really wants to? Present scientific and logical evidence, not ballet flats and glitter bombs. Otherwise you just look like school girls throwing a tantrum.
    Just sayin’

    • Thanks for ‘just sayin” and mansplainin‘. Go work on your own actions.
      Also for the infantilising ‘school girls’ – that was a nice touch!

      • John in Melbourne says:

        Eh, no skin off my nose if you don’t wanna listen. If it all blows up in your face and they outlaw abortion or somethin, I’m hardly gonna be crying in the street because I cant ‘excercise my reproductive rights’. But then I shouldve known you wouldnt listen, because i’ve got a penis, yeah?

      • Why yes, you’re right, it’s your penis and not your complete lack of constructive engagement with OUR agenda that is the cause of my sarcasm. You think we didn’t think about these things? We had our reasons. If you were genuine you might have learned something. Instead YOU’VE behaved like a spoiled child and a troll. Well done.

    • Hi John, thanks for commenting, I note you’re in Melbourne, next time you’re in Sydney it would be great to have you along to the F Collective. I say that becuase you’re obviously interested in strategies for fighting for women’s right to chose. I mean sure your critique is simplistic, ignorant and based on a host of assumptions. But bless you for trying. I suppose in your genius strategic vision it is better to just do nothing? Also speaking of pointless actions, what is the point of you seeking out people taking action and giving them patronizing criticism on actions they’ve already taken? It seems all it gets you is a whole bunch of “screw you asshole”.

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