Generally, I avoid conflict and situations of adversity… though I enjoy a good conflict, and some adversity. Today I found that conflict, and sort-of adversity, only because I was having fun in the name of good, and action.
My side of the story goes:
While walking from one hall to another, reeling from what seemed an endless semester and non-stop course work, some engineering hall (I forget the exact name) to Appleby, I found myself accosted by two young men. They began to ask me questions of why I was doing what I was doing. So, I decided to indulge them: I was doing this because I am pro-choice, I believe in women’s rights, and I believe in abortion (I will not hide those opines). The two, clearly very young men, and clearly very naïve, were extremely intrigued as to why I was squirting water from my Gatorade bottle onto someone’s pro-life sentiments chicken-scratched in chalk on the ground. I mean, firstly, the act of squirting water is always fun, always; whether you are a child or an adult child, and secondly, no one needs to read this propagated narrow-minded shit… these ideas that women only have this option, or that, with their bodies as dictated by fucking laws…
Now, the act of squirting water may seem innocuous enough to the non-chalk artist pro-lifers out there, but let me tell you, you meet the wrong person, and it’s over. These kids started throwing words around like “asshole”, and “what the fuck”, and blah blah blah… My headphones were in, and I was laughing, so their remarks were somewhat hard to distinguish.
These two, one blond in blue, and one, I didn’t get a close enough description of, walked up to me, real close, and exclaimed something to the effect of: HEY, DURPA DURPA DURPA WHY ARE YOURE DOING THATA!?!?! I looked up from the chalky frozen ground and gave them my answer again: I am pro-choice. They went on talking as I started moving along the walkway.
I kept walking as not to be late for class, when I came across another message that looked thirsty for a spraying. I pulled my Gatorade bottle from my backpack mesh and the message was thoroughly hydrated. I thought about what I was doing as these visibly peeved individuals stalked me from behind… I thought about the message, and how much I cared about the message, or didn’t care. I thought about free speech and the idea of my free speech being in the form of erasing this free speech; I thought of the times someone had ripped down my fliers, or erased my chalk writings, and I kept spraying. It was fun, I must admit. It was the act of doing, standing by what I believed in, rather than just saying what I thought, or walking away and past; I did this art which was spraying water, the audience, these kids, reacted as any crowd reacts: loudly.
See, before this inquiry I didn’t really care, well I did—I didn’t like the message that the pro-life campaign scrawled on the ground. After the inquiry, I cared a little. I thought about how the message was too narrow-minded and needed reworking; that reworking involved a trashcan (full of other bullshit, I assume) and some fire. The slogans in question go something like this: a heart is beating (insert estimated time after conception here)… a baby can swallow (insert a point in time before birth here)… I mean, around campus, on the ground, in chalk for all to see—is this art, propaganda, necessary, comical, useful, important, progressive, liberal? I didn’t care, and I don’t, I think these groups need a better tagline—that being no tagline, plus, I had my Gatorade bottle which sprayed water very well, and it was itching to blast. I had to… really.
So, I blast the first one, I make sure to get the right words as to make the message completely ambiguous to the pedestrian reader; I take out the “baby” part, so now, in reality, anything could have a beating heart, or swallow. Personification is great. The aforementioned two become more aggressive as they moved closer to my person. They asked more hard hitting questions, why are you doing that??!!?!?! I say: why not? I am pro-choice. My headphones are in, I am walking to Appleby in the middle of Coffman Union Mall and they keep following me and talking, they call me an “asshole”, or whatever, still talking and walking, I don’t care, they keep talking and talking and talking and talking, telling me they are “pro-life”, telling me they are “pro-choice” too—they don’t “know” what they really are—I assume, they continue to tell me things I don’t really care about. I have no problem with these people; I just wonder what they think, and what they will do about what I just did. At that moment, I turn to them and say very slowly: What are you going to do about it? I look them straight in the face and ask them this question: What are you going to do about it?
It was as if their minds were blown. I thought they were going to push me or tell me some lofty religious soaked opinionated answer, but no, just silence. I looked them right in the eyes. And then the funniest thing happened: they both looked at me once more and walked away. It was odd. I felt as though I had inspired them to walk away, I had inspired them to do something. As they walked away, it had nothing to do with the discussion really, I said, “good discussion”. I mean, at least I did something, and they did something.
This event inspired me to be more baffled than anything, why did these people care so much to follow me, to label me an “asshole”, to question me, and then when questioned about their beliefs, only abandon their stance and walk away?
I don’t know if they wrote those watered-down lines or not; I didn’t like the prose, so I diluted it with water, innocent enough. I have no idea who they were or what they stand for, because they stood for nothing. I told them what I thought, and asked them to tell me what they thought, or show me, make change, and they walked away.
The moral of the story is this: I did what I wanted to do, to make change. I wrote with water what I thought. I changed the demeaning message on the ground. I did it and someone else (two young people) complained about it to my face. If they wanted change they could have told me what they were going to do to change it, or maybe do something right there to change it, or maybe be inspired to do something about it and make change in the future… the thing I find the most confusing, is when given the opportunity to make change, especially in regard to their own opinions and beliefs they walked away. They didn’t say anything other than that I was an “asshole”, they didn’t offer any solution or insightful discussion.
Their reaction was to label something and then walk away.
Now, Appleby Hall is apparently a counseling center for women, my friend tells me. Do we really need that kind of motivation written on the sidewalk coming up to a building with such an office, with such a resource? Perhaps not.
I think you can believe whatever you want to believe—do whatever to get others to follow that idea, but telling someone they can or can’t do something with their body is out of bounds. It might seem easy enough to some, and it might seem perplexing others, but who should control your body? Also, if you truly believe in something stand up for it, and do something—take that offered opportunity.
Spraying a water bottle may seem childish, ridiculous, or immature, but it changed the mind of two people who had to change their minds and walk away.
I love spraying with my Gatorade bottle, and I love good discussion.
I like the word: Schadenfreude