[TW for gun violence]
When I first read about the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, my stomach sank. It fucking terrifies and enrages me that women (and men) run the risk of having their lives ended by a "pro-life" gun, simply for working at, going to, or merely being in the vicinity of a Planned Parenthood clinic. It fucking enrages me that women have to fear for their lives because some people believe that, somehow, shooting and killing women is better than allowing women to have freedom of choice when it comes to their own reproductive organs.
As I read further, I became even more enraged. I read how the police asked people not to make assumptions about the shooter's motives, even though the only place he attacked was the Planned Parenthood clinic. I read how there was a five-hour standoff while three bodies lay lifeless somewhere in the vicinity of the AK-47 he used to take their lives. I read how the attack was labeled as a "shootout" and a "standoff," as if this were a spaghetti Western and not a real life-or-death situation.
What I didn't read was the word "terrorism" anywhere in the news coverage, even though this was clearly a situation in which someone was using deadly force and grievous bodily harm, and the threat of such, in order to scare people into not using their legal right to reproductive health care. What I didn't read was how the police shot the gunman on sight, even though he, as noted in this article, "previously had
been firing at police who entered the facility." What I didn't read was an instant condemnation of the inherent violence of white men, because the person who committed this act of terrorism (referred to in the media as a "shooting") was, indeed, a white man.
Part of the reason for this is because he committed an act of violence against women. The majority of patients of Planned Parenthood are women, and it's not a coincidence that Planned Parenthood clinics are the target of this much violence. The people who are arguing that Planned Parenthood should be defunded/shut down/what-have-you are arguing so not because they want to "save babies," but because they want to punish women for having sex that they deem unacceptable. The only proof you need of that is any argument featuring a "pro-lifer." Read far enough down the thread, and you'll find the truth--"save the babies" almost instantaneously becomes a self-righteous "if you don't want to get pregnant, keep your legs closed" the second they find themselves backed into a corner. They want to punish women for having sex of which they don't approve,
namely sex purely for the purposes of recreation rather than
procreation, and we're pretty much OK with that.
The other reason this act of terrorism will not be labeled as such is because the person who committed the act is a white man. If this person had been a black man, he would have been dead the moment he opened fire on the clinic (especially on the police) and the media would be condemning the inherent violence of black men before his body had even had the chance to go cold. If this person had been of Middle-Eastern descent, this act of terrorism would have been called such and then, of course, the conversation would go back to how we can't accept Syrian refugees in this country because LOOK AT ALL THE TERRORISTS. But because this person was a white man, we will instantly give him the benefit of the doubt. We will give him the benefit of a five-hour standoff, even though he's already killed three people and fired his gun at police. We will refuse to label this shooting as an act of terrorism, because terrorism is a word we reserve for acts of violence committed by those who "appear" Muslim, whether or not they actually are. We will blame the mental health system, we will call him a "lone wolf." We will do anything and everything BUT call him what he is--a motherfucking terrorist. And all because he is a white man who committed an act of violence against women.
White men are committing act after act of horrific mass violence, over and over and over and over and over and over and nobody seems to care enough to do anything about it, or even to call it what it is. For the "pro-life" man who pulled the trigger, I'm sure he felt that what he did was simply an act of
retaliation, a way to punish the women who didn't listen to him when he told them what to do with their bodies. And that's really what it boils down to--he, and every other man who's attacked Planned Parenthood clinics, is punishing women who dared exercise their right to
bodily autonomy, even though he expressly told them not to. When we women find ourselves staring down the barrel of a gun as punishment for exercising our right to freedom of reproductive choice, we have to ask ourselves--how is this not terrorism?