Dear men, a PSA

 

This is a Public Service Announcement to the guys out there. Not all guys mind you. This isn’t addressed to the conservative fuckwits out there. They aren’t open to listening to what I have to say (I mean come on, I’m a black, gay, progressive atheist who advocates for inclusivity, diversity, and feminism…not exactly the kind of person those nincomfucks perk their ears up for). This is addressed to the other men. The moderates, the liberals, the progressives. You know who you are. You’re the guys who are not down with the GOPs racism and its candidates who talk about deporting massive numbers of undocumented immigrants. You’re the ones who have several gay friends whom you’ll go out to gay bars with. And you definitely-DEFINITELY-consider yourself a supporter of women’s rights. Why, when you first heard of the Hollywood wage gap, your exasperation went through the roof! You thought that Hollywood actresses should receive the same compensation for their hard work as their male counterparts. So of course you were pleased as punch when Bradley Cooper decided to help his female co-stars by lending his voice in their fight for equal pay. And I just bet you feel bad for all those times when you were younger and hooted and hollered at women as they walked by you on the street. You feel bad bc you watched the Hollaback video and it opened your eyes to the horrible treatment women and girls endure for simply existing in public. Further, I bet you’re probably one of those guys who believe the allegations of the 55+ women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, rape, and sexual harassment over the course of the last four decades. And you wish that scumbag were in jail where he belongs. All of that is a good thing. You should be supportive of women’s rights, bc you should give a shit about the people around you. But there is one area of women’s rights you have difficulty supporting: abortion rights.

That’s right-abortion. The termination of a pregnancy. You, Mr. Supports The Fight Against The Gender Wage Gap…Mr. Believes Women Who Say They’ve Been Raped…Mr. Street Harassment Needs To End-for all that you support women’s rights. For all that you call yourself a liberal. For all that you’re a registered Democrat. You don’t support abortion rights. You are pro-life (and have never considered the implications of what it would actually mean to be pro-life), and believe a fetus is sacred. Or you believe that fetuses have rights and they shouldn’t be killed. Or any of a number of other anti-abortion positions.

But here’s the thing about all those anti-abortion positions: if enshrined into law, they would severely curtail the basic rights of women and AFAB people (assigned female at birth). Because fetuses are not aware and have no consciousness, granting them rights and enforcing those rights means that the government would have to take control over the bodies of pregnant people for the duration of their pregnancy. That loss of bodily autonomy would effectively enslave women and AFAB people to the state. That’s what you support as an abortion opponent. And that’s some fucked up shit for someone who claims to support women’s rights. But there’s still hope. You don’t have to retain these archaic, despicable views. You can become a better person and you can embrace women’s rights more fully. All you have to do is listen to women, believe them when they discuss their problems, and trust that they are in the best position to make decisions about their reproductive anatomy.  Don’t know how to do that? Too foreign a concept for you? Need some guidance? Read the story of how one abortion opponent changed his mind:

A six term congressman and lifelong opponent of abortion rights has finally changed his mind, and all it took was for him to start talking with and listening to women.

Tim Ryan is a bluedog Democrat and lifetime Catholic who represents Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives. Since first stepping into the Capitol Building, he has supported many pieces of anti-abortion legislation written by Republicans. But unlike his Republican colleagues who are slaves to their conservative base, Ryan actually not only talked with women, he listened to them. In the process, he experienced a change of heart and officially announced on Tuesday that he now supports a woman’s right to choose.

 

I have to say, when I first read this article, it took several minutes before my jaw would fully close. A man who was a staunch abortion opponent changing his mind?  What could those women have told him that could sway his opinions?

I have sat with women from Ohio and across the nation and heard them talk about their varying experiences: abusive relationships, financial hardship, health scares, rape and incest. There are endless stories about women in troubling situations — the woman who became pregnant and has a violent spouse; the woman who lost her job and is unable to afford another child; or the underage girl worried she’ll be thrown out of her house if she reveals her pregnancy.

These are just a few of the many stories I have heard. Each of these women lived through difficult and personal situations with few options and no clear path to take. This is why there is no easy answer.

These women gave me a better understanding of how complex and difficult certain situations can become. And while there are people of good conscience on both sides of this argument, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: the heavy hand of government must not make this decision for women and families.

One of the major lessons he learned is that abortion is not about the fetus. It is about the pregnant person. It is what that person wants for themselves. Whether its bc they are financially incapable of caring for another child or bc their birth control failed or bc they’ll be kicked out of their home by heartless parents, abortion is a choice that many pregnant people make for themselves and/or their families. The fact that he was open to listening to these women-really listening-means he gave a shit. He cared enough to acknowledge them, their lives, and their experiences. He cared enough to find out what they were going through and why they felt an abortion was the best choice for them. That’s something a great many abortion opponents won’t do. Because they don’t give two shits about women or AFAB people.

I do have a minor quibble with something Ryan said. As a result of a conversation with U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, he now believes that “nobody celebrates abortion”. She was wrong and so is he. I know several women who did indeed celebrate their abortion. From what they have said, it was not a difficult choice for them and they were happy when it was done and they were no longer pregnant. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating an abortion. I suspect that while some people are pro-choice advocates, they still think that fetuses are special or that life should be preserved-they just think that it should be up to the woman to decide to continue or terminate a pregnancy. But fetuses as special beings is not universally recognized. Not everyone feels that way. And for those that don’t, the termination of a pregnancy is not terribly unfortunate. But while Ryan may feel abortions are unfortunate-a feeling he shares with many anti-choice advocates-he actually supports the government taking steps to reduce unintended pregnancies. He supports better sex education and the passage of laws that help women access contraception:

Where government does have the ability to play a significant role is in giving women and families the tools they need to prevent unintended pregnancies by expanding education and access to contraception. We must get past the ignorance, fear and — yes — discrimination against women that lead to restrictions on contraception and age-appropriate sex education.

Only then can we hope to continue to make significant advances in what should be our true, shared objective: reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, which make up the vast majority of abortions. Isn’t that a simple approach on which we all could agree? This is not a partisan issue, but instead a personal one.

Needless to say, Congressman Ryan differs from anti-choice advocates with his support for contraception access. He wants to see abortions reduced, and he’s approaching it from the reasonable position of working to reduce unwanted pregnancies. The way to do that is prevent pregnancies from occurring in the first place (using contraception) and ensuring that people are fully educated on matters relating to sex so they can make responsible choices in their sex lives. In addition to all of that, he advocates the creation of common-sense and comprehensive legislation that ensures new mothers have access to healthcare, housing, and healthy food. And he wants people of all political persuasions to join together in crafting such legislation.

So you see Mr. Supports The Fight Against The Gender Wage Gap…Mr. Believes Women Who Say They’ve Been Raped…Mr. Street Harassment Needs To End–that failing that you have? The one where you don’t support abortion rights? That’s a problem that can (and should) be fixed. And thanks to Congressman Ryan, you have a blueprint on how to do that.

But ah, just one more piece of advice. This right here? Guys, don’t do that.

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Dear men, a PSA
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4 thoughts on “Dear men, a PSA

  1. YOB
    1

    Good for Congressman Ryan. There is hope. Not much, mind. But some.

    As for the counter protester… At the beginning of the article, I was all “yeah! Good deal.” I have often thought about doing that myself. But…then I kept reading. I’m not getting very honest vibes off that guy. He seems to be trolling for the LOLz not actually trying to help. I’ve been learning how not to tell others the best way to activism* but if the very people you’re “supporting” aren’t comfortable with you, yer doin’ it wrong.

    *brain slightly muddled. Can’t think of the correct word here.

  2. 2

    The protester is a douchebag. He makes his protest all about him and his desires, rather than centering his opposition of anti-abortionists on the women being harmed by their actions.

  3. YOB
    3

    its one of those stories that I hate because I go into it thinking it’s going to be all positive and amusing but then coming out of it I haz a sad.

    He’s a garden variety troll. Meatspace or not, a troll’s a troll.

    Also, Tony, to get away from the douchebag, I want to thank you for posting about Ryan and the way you wrote your article. Funny and informative.

  4. 4

    YOB:
    Thanks. I wanted to switch up my style a bit and do something a little less…’dry’ isn’t quite the word for it, as I usually am passionate. But I wanted a change of pace.

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