Menopausal Woman Nostalgic for Choice

| April 18, 2017

Earlier this month, conservative speaker, Ben Shapiro, spoke at the University of Florida. Students and visitors—including myself– lined up hours in advance for tickets to the highly anticipated event.

Tickets ran out very quickly and a few hours later hundreds returned to the venue to wait in hopeful anticipation for a few extra tickets or empty seats. The excitement among conservative students was visible and several expressed their surprise and excitement when the University of Florida, known for its liberal leanings, invited a speaker like Ben Shapiro.

Standing in line, I was struck by the varying issues and perspectives among the students. Some admired Shapiro simply for his bold way of articulating his beliefs, others for specific policies he supported, others for his pro-life stance, and then others were simply happy to attend an event where someone outside of the liberal perspective spoke. The line of people with tickets wrapped around the building and the line of hopefuls nearly reached the same length. It was certainly encouraging to see hundreds and hundreds of students in attendance.

Of course, speakers like Ben Shapiro are certain to draw protesters as well as supporters. Protesters came a few hours before the event, but their numbers could not compete with the numbers of the event supporters. There were over 700 students attending and maybe 50 protesters. Except for a few students who refused to listen to university employees when asked to stop their use of megaphones, I felt the majority of protestors behaved reasonably and with appropriate tactics of holding signs and wearing t-shirts. Their unity was lacking, and there was a plethora of topics they protested, but nothing very specific to Ben Shapiro. Their topics included rape culture, racism, President Trump, capitalism, Israel, and so on. As expected, there were several pro-choice advocates.

Then there were the unapologetic pro-death signs. The most striking sign–carried by an old woman–read “Menopausal Woman Nostalgic for Choice.” She wandered along the peripheries of the protesters staring at the students in line. It took me a few moments to process what the words meant. Other students questioned her sign and several of us explained the message. The woman lamented her old age and inability to become pregnant for the specific reason of being able to make a choice that for thousands of women is the most damaging and heartbreaking decision they make. I couldn’t believe such a sickening message was proudly written in bold letters. Several students in line expressed their dismay, labeling the message as dark.

After hours of waiting, those of us without tickets were unable to attend the event. However, simply standing in line was an education itself.

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