Gyno Diaries: In Praise Of Men Who Fight For Reproductive Justice
This column started out as an experiment of sorts, with a simple question: how much do we all care? I personally don’t doubt that we (most) all care a lot–not just about keeping our right to safe and legal abortion, but also to all of the other services that OBGYNs/Planned Parenthood provides, like birth control, cancer screenings, and–for some reason this last one eludes a lot of pro-lifers—pre-natal care and baby deliveries!
But it’s no mystery by now, in the Information Age, that information is power, and I wanted to see if women care enough to not just read, but to share information—by sending in their stories (anonymous or not).
Luckily, a lot of you have! As have many concerned teenage boyfriends, searching the internet for someone to give birth control recommendations to their girlfriends. But despite grossly misunderstanding what I’m here to do, said teenage boyfriends provided just another great example of why women and girls need Planned Parenthood. So thank you for sending your stories in, and PLEASE keep doing so. Be it some bullet points you don’t feel like fleshing out, or the whole scene perfectly set, you don’t have to be a writer or expert, and we would love to hear from you! (Email [email protected] to start the conversation!) But this week we’re here to pay homage to men who also care about preserving the basic rights of women.
Men get tossed around like croutons in a salad by the wild world of feminism. Most obviously, there’s the necessary bulldozing of MRAs, politicians and corporate leaders perpetuating inequality, and just your everyday dude drunk on the patriarchy. Then there could be multiple books dedicated to feminism’s complicated relationship with trans women.
Then there’s the new, eyebrow-raising group of “male feminists.” Sometimes they are men just exploiting feminism to get pussy, or (as one recent episode of “Younger” pointed out) despite having good intentions, they miss the point that in loudly brandishing the flag of feminism themselves, they’re yet again exemplifying the patriarchal norm of men trampling all over what women create. Lest we not forget the brilliant tweet by Rachel W. Miller that went viral last week, “Behind every woke man is an exhausted feminist you need to thank.”
But then there are the amazing men who by boldly, yet respectfully and on bended knee proclaiming themselves feminist, have made it seem more acceptable to do so. And then there are the men that take it one step further, and are unafraid to join the conversations about the reasons why we should all be feminist. For instance, last week, writer and performer Josh Healey appeared on an episode of NPR’s “Snap Judgement” and told the story of both his great-grandmother’s twelve pre-Roe V. Wade at home abortions, as well as his own encounter with the procedure when his now wife, then girlfriend, got pregnant early on in their relationship when they were 19, and they chose to abort.
Snaps first to Healey for doing what a lot of anti-abortion women can’t seem to do themselves, which is to see the thread from the dangerous past of illegal abortion, to today. I hate to say that I’m impressed with a man being able to not just recount his personal encounter about abortion (which is Bernie Sanders-level huge), but to also find the poignant generational narrative that moves the conversation from “baby killing” to saving women’s lives. The image of a woman before Roe V. Wade being so desperate to give herself, not one, but twelve “self-performed” abortions should chill every person with a shred of humanity to the bone. That image should also reinforce the equal importance of providing easy and affordable access to birth control. Healey also spoke to Women’s Health Magazine, about what it meant for him to tell that story, which you can read here.
Healey isn’t the only man coming forward to help women. A few weeks ago John Oliver made the central focus of his show “Last Week Tonight” about abortion rights, and how archaic it would be to take them away completely, not to mention how endangered they already have become through sneaky legislative restrictions.
Take for example the 13-year-old in Texas, a rape victim, who was prevented from having the procedure thanks to Texas’ reckless, yet somehow passed legislation restricting the procedure within an inch of the law (like many other states). Without proper access to a nurse anesthetist due to the restrictions, the nearest clinic to the girl (four hours away) had to turn her away because they had no one to put her to sleep for the procedure. Oliver shows footage of one of the medical professionals who’d wanted to help the girl recounting what happened through tears, because she knew the young teen would likely have to carry the pregnancy, brought on by rape, to term.
It’s important in this crucial fight to protect women in a land that in which every singly Republican candidate running for president has promised to overturn Roe V. Wade, that we celebrate the men who are actually helping us to hopefully win this fight. I’ll leave you with the wonderful words of one of my favorite “male feminists,” Aziz Ansari, “If you believe that men and women have equal rights, and then someone asks you if you’re a feminist, you have to say yes. Because that’s how words work. You can’t be like, ‘Yeah, I’m a doctor who primarily does diseases of the skin,’ ‘Oh, so you’re a dermatologist?’ ‘Oh, that’s way too aggressive of a word, not at all, not at all.’”