The Purdue University Students for Life have set up their annual demonstration "Cemetery of the Innocents" in which hundreds of crosses are hammered into the ground of the Purdue Memorial Mall. The Mall is a central part of campus, where thousands of students pass each day. The Students for Life are following their public demonstration with a forum at 7pm Wednesday evening to discuss their views. The problem is that they are substantially inflating the statistical data that exists on documented abortions and making claims that a third of their generation has been murdered. In protest to this fanaticism and severely misinformed ideology, Dave and I along with two members of Purdue's Voices for Change (a pro-choice Planned Parenthood campus organization) printed off flyers and taped them all around the sidewalks of the Mall. Our presence was noticeably aggravating those in charge of guarding the display, but we were assured by some of the men involved in the demonstration that our signs would not be removed.
The most interesting thing to me about those who were setting up this demonstration was the wildly high percentage of men there. According to statistics collected by the Pro-Choice Public Education Project, 77% of anti-choice leaders are men. So there is something really peculiar going on in this arena of "religious" activism - one would think women would be more fired up over the issue than men. But clearly men are running the show. Tomorrow there will be plenty of opportunity to engage in debate with these students and probe their standpoints, and I hope that I will get the chance to ask quite bluntly the questions that are on my mind. I'm of the mind that religion has very little to do with the true motivations of groups like Students for Life (although their consistent use of crosses and no other religious signifiers for their "cemetery" is certainly suspect). That, rather, they are motivated by a perceived threat to social order - to the ability to keep women in the home bound to children they did not ask for. Religion is the guise behind which patriarchy hides as it moves to shut women's voices out, women's experiences out, and women's power out. Isn't it time to face the truth behind the mask?