A Black Eye For Feminism and Atheism: Watch This Nasty Mob Attack Catholics With Paint and Gobs of Spit

My mind is still reeling after I just watched the footage of a recent feminist protest outside a cathedral in San Juan, Argentina. In the NSFW video, shot on November 24, the pro-choice demonstrators are seen attacking a cordon of non-violent Catholic volunteers who said they were trying to protect the building from vandalism (apparently, the attendees of the annual women’s rights conference that spawned the demonstration had been on graffiti rampages before).

How can people do this and still look at themselves in the mirror the next morning?

The protesters, many of whom were topless, sprayed paint on the men, wrote on their faces with markers, and spat on them, in addition to other indignities. The men stood with linked arms and prayed during the assault. Inside the church the Archbishop Alfonso Delgado also led 700 people in prayer.

If I were merely reading about this, I admit I’d be inclined to bring some skepticism to these allegations. Did exaggerations or miscommunications color the reporting?

But the video — as far as I can tell — doesn’t lie. Even if some creative editing occurred, it’s a stunning record of nastiness and malignancy. And it seems to go only one way.

Again, the footage is not safe for work.

YouTube Preview Image

Like lots of people, I can appreciate a passionate, vigorous protest. A woman’s right to choose is worth fighting for. But not — never – like this. Spitting on your opponents? Waving your middle finger in their personal space and screeching at them like unleashed banshees? Shoving them, and draping your worn underwear over their necks and faces? Using black marker to draw upside-down crosses on their foreheads? Spray-painting their shirts, faces, and genital areas? Four of those five things qualify as battery, perhaps even assault.

And apart from the criminality of it, such acts are by definition a debasement of your arguments and intellect; a self-inflicted blow against your cause; and a classless, losing PR strategy if I ever saw one.

If any atheists or feminists are disinclined to find all this a big deal (I hope they’re few and far between), I invite them to reflect on how they’d feel if the roles were reversed. What if a mob of shrieking Catholics spray-painted feminists’ genitals and clothing, spat in peaceful atheists’ faces, et cetera?

Collectively, atheists hate it when Christians in the Western hemisphere depict themselves as martyrs whose love of Jesus brings out “hate” in others. In a country where Christians make up the majority of citizens, to hear of how victimized they are is tiresome and off-base. But in this case, the complainers are right for once.

I admire the men in the cordon for keeping their cool in the face of such extreme hostility, and I hope that the video will help in tracking down the culprits — and in letting the victims see their tormentors held accountable in court.


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About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder of Moral Compass, a now dormant site that poked fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He joined Friendly Atheist in 2013.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    —If we resort to violence, because one time . . . , or even a thousand
    times . . . ., we will only make it harder to improve laws.—

    If you walked into a public bathroom and saw someone molesting a child, would you shut the door and walk away and call the cops and maybe petition for some laws about not molesting a kid in a public bathroom?

    Or would you grab the molester by the throat and slam him into the wall, hand your cell phone to the kid, and say ‘call 911 and tell them this guy fell down the stairs a couple dozen times?’

    —The people protesting are unintentionally providing support for what they are protesting.

    Their behavior is promoting their oppression.—

    That’s a neat bit of hypocrisy there, isn’t it?

    The behavior of the men involved was promoting the oppression of the women, intentionally providing support for the behavior the women are protesting.

    Why aren’t you angry?

  • Hibernia86

    There are two problems with your comment. First of all, one does not have to experience something to morally judge it. For example, say that someone who failed out of medical school decided to go and murder someone. No one would say “Well I’ve never failed out of medical school so I can’t judge how he is feeling at this time. Maybe it is understandable that he would feel angry enough to kill and he shouldn’t be held responsible for that.” That would be a ridiculous claim to make. Just because you haven’t failed out of medical school yourself does not mean you can’t judge those who misbehave after doing so. You are capable of using your basic understanding of morality to judge that his action wasn’t right.

    Secondly, your claim that as a man you have all the privilege in situations of reproduction or violence simply isn’t true. If there is an accidental (or purposeful) pregnancy, in a pro-choice society she would get to decide whether she wanted children or not while you would be forced to have kids whether you wanted to or not. You have fewer reproductive choices than she does. If you are sexually assaulted by a woman, you are much less likely to be believed or get justice in court. If a woman slaps, hits, or otherwise attacks you, many people will assume that you deserved it, will laugh at you, or will consider you weak for not just handling it yourself. This isn’t to dismiss the many reproductive and domestic violence issues that women face, but the idea that men have all the privilege in these issues is simply false.

  • Hibernia86

    Men are described in negative gender specific ways all the time in protests. They are said to be “beating their chests” even if they weren’t literally. They are described as “thugs”, something women almost never get described as.

  • Hibernia86

    And yet Susan B Anthony is who everyone remembers so maybe she had a greater effect after all. Same goes for Martin Luther King and civil rights.

  • Hibernia86

    It is a political reality. If you react violently when there are other options available, you slow down reform. This is the same debate Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had. MLK (like Gandhi) is the one remembered fondly today. There is a reason for that.

  • Hibernia86

    “To me, baring breasts as protest seems less like sexual harassment,
    because the point tends to be that women’s breasts aren’t inherently
    more sexual than men’s.”

    Women’s breasts are considered a sexual part of their body even not used in reproduction. That isn’t true for men because their breasts are so undeveloped as to pretty much not be there at all. If you mooned someone, that would be considered to some degree sexual even though the butt isn’t used directly in reproduction. Having developed breasts is a sexual characteristic just like having balls is.

  • Hibernia86

    Except the men were there to protect the building against vandalism so it isn’t as if they went out of their way to follow the women to their protest site. The men were on their “home turf” so to speak.

  • Hibernia86

    I don’t have time to analyze each one of these links, but let me at least try one. In the second to last link, the author claims that a frat party called “pig tails and pedophiles” was supporting rape culture. This ignores the fact that the party was specifically to mock pedophiles. It was supposed to shock you the way a gruesome Halloween costume might shock you. Twisting that around to suggest that they were somehow supporting pedophilia is just dishonest of the author.

  • Hibernia86

    Funny, that is exactly the same justification that men who bomb abortion clinics use. They were protecting babies, according to them.

  • Hibernia86

    Because that is the exact same excuse that abortion bombers use. They were just protecting babies, according to them.

  • Hibernia86

    Except that this very blog often points out bad behavior of Christians and treats it as representative of Evangelical culture as a whole. We can’t criticize every example of bad behavior from the religious right and then claim that any bad behavior from our side just didn’t represent us. We should be able to call out people on our own side as well.

  • Hibernia86

    They were clearly advocating the pro-choice cause. With rather unique methods, but we shouldn’t pretend that we didn’t know that they were pro-choice.

  • Hibernia86

    “Someone else is doing something worse” is not an excuse for bad behavior.

  • Hibernia86

    This is pure victim blaming. If your property is being vandalized and you stand it front of it to stop it, and people in the mob say “you’ve got us mad now!” and attack you, then the mob and ONLY the mob is responsible for their actions. I do think that the police should have been called if they weren’t and anyone who spray painted a building or person arrested immediately.

  • Hibernia86

    “And I’m sorry, but the best I can say to the victims of this mob is that you reap what you sow.”

    What evidence do you have that any of the men had spat on anyone else or spray painted anyone else? How many clinic protesters spit or spray paint others?

  • Hibernia86

    Stealing this

  • Hibernia86

    I would hope that if people were spray painting Klansmen at a protest that people would not excuse that.

  • Hibernia86

    Yes and if a bunch of Catholics had spray painted a feminist gathering, the pro-life blogs would have been going on about how it was the feminists fault for killing all those babies. Each side is willing to excuse its member’s misbehavior.

  • Hibernia86

    Again this kind of thinking will just cause pro-lifers to vandalize abortion clinics because it would bring to everyone’s attention what they see as child killing.

  • Hibernia86

    Yeah but isn’t that true of a lot of stories that are on feminist blogs as well?

  • momtarkle

    It’s yours, with my sacred blessing.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    See all those piles and piles of links I posted? Note how many of them had to do with the Catholic church?

    Note what the target was of the mob?

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    Yes, we know they are lying sacks of shit who hate women, thank you for pointing that out for us again.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    Thank you for chiming in to support rape culture by deliberately choosing to blind yourself to the historical context of frat parties and their past behavior.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    She has had greater PR efforts on her behalf. And don’t get me wrong, she was a great woman in many ways. She deserves to be honored, remembered, and respected.

    But Alice Paul has been thrown under the bus of history because she was too radical, too “unfeminine”, too uncomfortable. I think it’s time we did remember her.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Sure. But they were still there as a counterprotest in a space they knew would be part of the women’s protest. I acknowledge and respect their desire to protect the building, as well as their dignity under assault. They still don’t have to be “protected” from two women performing sexual acts as a protest.

  • Grace

    The men knew it was likely that the protesters would come to vandalize the cathedral. They chose to try to protect their cathedral from being vandalized. They did not try to stop the women from exercising their right to protest in a lawful manner; they were simply trying to prevent possible vandalism. The men were acting defensively, not offensively. They weren’t trying to get in the women’s faces. I don’t see how that = they are the ones forcing themselves into the women’s space.

    I guess we have different ideas about sex and consent. I don’t just believe it’s wrong (and harassment) to touch someone in a sexual manner without that person’s consent. I also believe it’s wrong (and harassment) to do sexual acts in order for another person to see it without that person’s consent.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    We do disagree. I think it’s wrong in the sense that it is extremely rude to perform sex acts in public, but it’s not … wrong wrong if that makes sense. Especially not in the context of a protest in which it occurred. I mean, seriously, the men could just literally look away if they didn’t want to see it. It’s like people complaining about sexual exhibitionism at gay pride parades- don’t like it? Then don’t look. It’s really not hurting anyone.

  • Grace

    I guess I see it differently in a gay pride parade because in that setting, the sexual exhibitionists aren’t invading other people’s space. At least not that I know of.

    In this video, one woman was rubbing and squeezing her breasts right in front of a particular man, and if she had moved just a little closer they would have been touching him. She then touched him with her hand, which she had just used to touch her breasts. (She might have actually touched him with her breasts — it’s hard to be sure from the camera angle.) I can’t not see what she did as sexual harassment. I mean, if a man was masturbating right in front of me, I wouldn’t think that was not harassment just because I could close my eyes if I wanted to.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the consensual cunnilingus. Clearly touching someone against their will is assault, as is trying to make them uncomfortable by clearly sexual gestures, words, or touches. A man masturbating in a corner is very different from a man masturbating while staring at you, leering, and making rude gestures with his other hand. The former is satisfying himself; the latter is trying to hurt you. And therein lies the difference.

  • Grace

    Thanks for the thought-provoking discussion. So, you agree that when the woman touched the man just after touching her breasts, that was assault? And you also agree that it was harassment before she touched the man — when she rubbed her breasts directly in front of him, while so physically close to him? (It seems like you’ve answered both questions yes — I just want to make sure I’m understanding you correctly.)

    I agree with your comment about a man masturbating in the corner vs. a man masturbating to hurt you. As for the cunnilingus which was consensual for the two women who carried it out, it still disturbs me that they did it when seeing it was clearly non-consensual for the men right in front of them. To me, it seemed like the non-consent of the men was part of the reason why they did it — it seemed like they did it specifically to make the men uncomfortable.

  • Grace

    Hmm, maybe.

    But men who have more developed breasts aren’t told that their breasts are sexually inappropriate. They might be made to feel embarrassed about it — which is unfortunate — but they won’t be told that it’s obscene or indecent for them to not wear a shirt at the beach. For some people — assuming that you knew that they were cisgender — you might not be able to tell whether they were a man or a woman if you were only looking at a picture of their chest.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    The answer to both your first questions is indeed yes.

    I just disagree with the reasons for the public cunnilingus. I think that while it was known that it probably would make the men uncomfortable, that wasn’t the purpose. That’s a question of intent, though, and one we simply can’t really answer without asking the people involved.

  • Hibernia86

    But they aren’t lying. They honestly believe that a fertilized egg is a child. Being wrong is not the same thing as lying. It has nothing to do with hating women (the anti-abortion part specifically. You could make an argument that the patriarchal church structure is hating women, though even then they do it because they believe God wants it that way, not because they necessarily would want to set it up that way themselves). Anti-abortion people want to ban abortion because they honestly believe they are saving children’s lives. Normally that would be a very honorable thing to do, but in this case they cause great problems because they incorrectly deduce who is a child. I often compare pro-lifers to PETA (a comparison neither side would like) because both groups take things like flies and fertilized eggs and try to give them the same moral importance as adult humans.

  • Hibernia86

    Seriously? You are just going to throw out a bunch of buzz words without any sort of logical discussion? The “historical context of frat parties and their past behavior”? So you are suggesting that since there have been rapes at frat parties therefore all frat parties are bad? Yeah there have been rapes on buses before too, does that make buses suspect of being bad? I’m not a member of a frat, but the vast majority of frat parties do not involve rape and the vast majority of fraternity members think rape is abhorrent. You admit here that you aren’t being honest about the meaning of the party, but rather going on the “historical context of frat parties” as if this party is somehow worse because it was thrown by a frat rather than some other group. It seems that this position is based on your hatred of frats rather than any logical analysis of the party itself. I think it is important for Atheists to realize that skeptical thinking isn’t just for dealing with religion but should be used in all walks of life.

  • Hibernia86

    I think public sex at a protest should be treated the same as public sex elsewhere. What if two women (or a man and a woman) were having sex in a city park in the same manner? The way the law treats that should be the way the law treats the women who performed sexual acts at the protest. (I would guess that the sex acts in the public park would not be legal in most jurisdictions so the same should hold for the protest)

  • Hibernia86

    I agree that it isn’t entirely fair, but I think there is a reason why we developed these ideas. In ancient times men wanted women with breasts who could breast feed their children and keep them alive. Similarly women wanted men with muscles who could protect them against threats. That is why breasts are considered sexy for women and muscles are considered sexy for men but neither is when the gender is flipped. Yes the world is very different today and yes culture has an effect, but there is a reason why we think the way we do.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    If there are laws against public sex, then yes, they should probably be enforced. That doesn’t mean there is any moral or ethical wrong in the act of public cunnilingus, though. It just means it’s illegal.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    —But they aren’t lying.—

    Lying to yourself is still lying.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    I’m sorry, if you haven’t been paying attention, I don’t have the time or inclination to educate you.

    Try this for a starting point – http://lmgtfy.com/?q=fraternitities+and+rape+culture

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    Well, that was unintentionally hilarious.

    “Fraternitities.”

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    There are ways to get skeptical folks to take your position seriously.

    This isn’t one of them.

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    Being mistaken is not lying.

    Assigning moral categories to errors of fact is, however, extremely obnoxious.

  • Hibernia86

    No, lying to yourself is when you know the truth but ignore it or otherwise try to convince yourself otherwise. I’m saying that pro-life people aren’t trying to ignore what they know, rather they completely 100% believe that fertilized eggs are people.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    I’m not sure I agree with that. Oh, they do think so sometimes, but their other actions and policy choices make it perfectly clear that they don’t actually think that fertilized eggs are people. However, because cognitive dissonance is a thing people do, the cross-connections are never made. I think it’s fair to say that pro-life people both do and do not believe that fertilized eggs are people, depending on how you phrase the question and which answer hurts their head less at the moment.

  • Hibernia86

    I’m not saying that Frat parties are free of sexual assault issues, but I do think that it is wrong to think that Frat parties are automatically suspect of being abusive when in most cases that isn’t true. But that isn’t even the main issue. The main issue is that you suggested that it is more wrong for Frats to have “pigtails and pedophile” parties than other groups. First there is the fact that the rape cases in frats normally involve college students so the pedophile part has no relation to the issues you raised above. Second and far more importantly is that something is either offensive or it isn’t. Saying that something is offensive based on the person who says it means that you are twisting the meaning of their words based on the person saying it. That is your personal bias. If someone says something, we need to be honest about the meaning of their words and not try to warp what they say based on the group they happen to be a member of.

  • purr
  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    *snicker*

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    We are so juvenile sometimes! I had the same reaction you did :)

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    So even though the last 50 times the guy at the corner has asked for a dollar for gas so he could just get home, you are still going to give him the dollar because this time he showed you his car keys so you think he might actually spend it on gas?

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    —-I’m saying that pro-life people aren’t trying to ignore what they know,
    rather they completely 100% believe that fertilized eggs are people.—

    Yes, I know they are using ignorance to lie to themselves. Thank you for pointing that out again.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    Yes, I know they are using willful ignorance to lie to themselves. Thank you for pointing that out again.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    Thank you for acknowledging you can’t address the points raised.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    Gee, I’m sorry I didn’t put any effort into helping someone overcome their willful ignorance. My humble apologies.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    I agree with a lot (though most certainly not all) of what you’re saying, but 3lemenope is right. You’re not helping your cause with this sort of thing.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    Sorry, I’m not overly inclined to feed trolls or educate the willfully and deliberately ignorant. I posted dozens of links, and someone took one of them, completely ignored the historical context of the event (and clearly didn’t do more than skim the article), and tried to play the ‘hey, this one doesn’t count so all the others can be disregarded too!’ game.

  • purr

    It has to do with hating women, or more precisely, erasing women. In order to elevate the zygote above the woman they have to erase the woman as a person from the get-go. Fertilized eggs are people, women are incubators. They care that the zygote might become the next Einstein, but they don’t give two seconds thought to how having a baby could derail the woman from *her* contributions to society. Because she is *just* an incubator for the fetus.


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