What's the story with the pro-choice Graffiti around Belfast?


Have you been noticing pro-choice graffiti around Belfast recently?  There has been a massive increase in the amount of political propaganda around Belfast the past few weeks, which has most likely been inspired by the recent criminalisation of a young woman for having an illegal abortion here; something that many women are forced to do.

Our reporter talked to some of the people involved.  
"It’s important to strike every blow we can against things as they stand, no matter how small the blow provided the outcome is bigger than the input.

We are constantly subjected to sexist advertising on billboards and outside shops and religious propaganda on buses, it is only right that we take back the city to display our demands, and our messages.

Space is political (in a lot of ways). It is taken for granted that the city and town (or any other surface or space) are show houses for ruling class ideas and causes. They are tightly controlled environments, and they are not for us to express ourselves, and especially for not for us to express dissenting or seditious ideas. The state strictly regulates what parts of our environment can be used to spread what messages.

It is legal to rent out a billboard to companies for a hefty fee (immediately excluding the voices of anyone who can't afford this, i.e. basically everyone), where they might badger and peer pressure us into buying a load of overpriced shite. It is illegal to spray paint 'I am a person, not a consumer' on a boring dirty grey wall.

This is another way freedom of speech is made into a cute phrase on a piece of paper rather than a lived reality. Barriers of capital and arrest are erected to bogart expression of information and ideas for the elite.

More to the point it is illegal even to modify and subvert toxic messages. The standard defence is that if this were not the case, voices could be silenced and free speech would suffer. The reality is that it means 'in public' (in what way is it really public), a conversation is not allowed, only a one-way diatribe from those with money and status quo ideology to hound us with their nonsense.

It is legal for an anti-choice organisation to display misinformation and oppressive guilt-tripping propaganda, but illegal for a person who could bear a child to write over it 'I am not a vessel'.

It's important for us not to let these wealthy, conservative, voices shout us down, day-in, day-out. It's one way to let ourselves be heard and re-take the streets.

Think even when you see exchanges in a bathroom cubicle (take this with a pinch of salt). There is a sense of ownership of the space. There's no need to be silent and let expression happen through the designated channels.

This kind of street talk is a staple of any revolution, uprising, or revolt. The May '68 uprising in France was famous for the ubiquity of incisive and inspirational sloganeering painted on the urban canvas. It transforms the environment from 'their environment' - with their incessant barrage of consumerist, sexist, patronising, hassling crap - into 'our environment'. 'Wow, look! A message from a real human speaking from the heart!'

Imagine walking through the streets and seeing 'Never work' and 'Be realistic - demand the impossible!' leap off the walls at you in the morning. Suddenly the ruling class is being shouted down and drowned out. 'Fuck gender roles', 'Another world is possible', '#trustwomen'."


Here is a quote from world famous street artist Banksy on this subject:

'People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.
You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.
Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.
You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.'