All this talk of Spooky Season and #HalloWeek has really got me thinking about what scares me. I was thinking about writing a fun little ditty about couples costumes or a definitive ranking of candy or something like that, but then a group visiting campus reminded me what I’m really scared of: the Alt-Right.
A group stringing doctored photos of dead fetuses planted itself in the middle of the Quad, earlier this week. It was smack-dab in the middle of campus and so big that it was impossible to avoid. It was terrifying, actually, and the concrete-slab of anxiety resting around my hips that arrived around the time of Georgia’s Heartbeat Bill pulsed once more. It reminded me that something’s trying to invade my right to my own body — and damn, it’s uncomfortable. Organs are something personal, and here, graphic photography was guilting me, the eyes of dead children from the Holocaust pleading with me in some kind of ugly narrative that’s supposed to get me to release my rights willingly.
Yeah, a loss of my bodily autonomy and my right to choose scare me.
I then decided to protest, something that also scares me, because, despite all of my words of bravado, I’m honestly a chicken. I’m incredibly paranoid. Having a debate across a classroom under teacher supervision is one thing, but it’s another thing when there’s a massive abortion exhibition looming in front of you and police standing in the shadow of a tree, staring, waiting for something to happen, asking a protestor if that’s her bag sitting thirty feet away (what was unsaid: because if it isn’t…).
Regardless of the fear, I protested. I drew a glittery uterus with my limited creative skills and was taken aback when some guys didn’t bat an eye at the images of atrocity that the exhibit provided, but cringed at our protest. How does that work? That scared me too, that next to these awful, racist comparisons to lynching, my fighting for my right to control myself and my body was more villainous to some people.
Then, the anti-choice group brought out the photos, and that’s when my stomach dropped. See, my friends and I have this inside joke about being ‘doxxed’. It’s not a real threat, just a verb we use in teasing, but here I was, after all the late night giggling and light-hearted warnings, looking the idea of being doxxed myself right in the face. To dox is “to search for and publish private or identifying information about a particular individual on the Internet, particularly with malicious intent,” according to Google Dictionary. This usually involves identification through photos of the face, targeting the social media of someone and then finding their address, members of their family, their workplace, etc. It’s a common tool used by the ultra-right against counter protestors, and when the members of the group took out their phones and began to raise them, I understood true fear. I turned around or raised my poster over my face, and maybe, on their websites, we’d be labelled as cowards, not proud enough of our cause to show our faces, but I can’t mess with my life, mental health and future like that. The concept of being doxxed went from an easy joke to something that was a genuine danger.
That’s fear, during this Halloween season. I know this is a downer amongst all the seasonal posts, but it needs to be said. Enjoy all the jump scares and the ghost stories, but remember that the Alt-Right is the most frightening and most pressing ghoul of them all.