Women are more than capable of handling the issue on their own, says Drew Bowling.
Abortion seems to be the evergreen of American politics: It never goes out of season. That’s unfortunate, because in most of the news I consume, it’s always there and it’s almost always bad news. I can no longer keep up with which senator has introduced some hideous bill that would restrict a woman’s access to abortion services. And I don’t even read the stories about what dumbfounding comment a random politician made about abortion.
What I can’t help but pay attention to, however, are the type of people who are constantly trying to create laws that will affect abortion. It seems to me that most of the opinions being espoused as law against abortion are always coming from men.
There’s something innately creepy about how eager some men are to barge into the debate on whether access to abortion should be legal, which is the first red flag we should heed. What makes men think they’re any more qualified than women when it comes to deciding what’s best for women’s reproductive livelihood?
Before I go on, let me be clear: This post is not about the debate on whether or not women should have safe, legal access to abortion, but rather about who should or shouldn’t be involved in deciding whether women should have safe, legal access to abortion.
I’m going to talk generally about men here, so whenever you read this, know that I am fully aware that there are men who are not douchebags, who don’t treat women’s bodies as the latest Mt. Everest challenge. But even those guys should butt out.
It’s fine to have an opinion about everything, and even be unafraid to share it with other people. But my god, men need to catch up fast to the idea that their opinion is not the be-all-and-end-all of everything. That men would be surprised or even defensive that their opinion is not appreciated or necessary reveals how wildly childish men can be.
There are some out there who will say that a man does, in fact, have a legitimate claim in the abortion debate because the embryo was fertilized with the man’s sperm, so what’s his is his. If that’s the case, and every sperm is all of a sudden so sacred, then why wouldn’t a man be more protective with keeping his sperm to himself? Instead of acting so careless with his reproductive material, he should either keep his dick in his pants, or more realistically, use a condom so that the sperm doesn’t go anywhere except to the dimpled end of a latex sock.
But if that sperm of yours somehow finds its way into a uterus, men, then wake up: You just surrendered all sovereignty to that sperm like a repoed minivan.
Once it’s no longer inside of your man parts, you don’t get a say in what happens to that sperm, regardless of whether it fertilizes an egg, whether it continues to mingle with that egg and eventually become a human fetus, or if it gets expelled from a woman’s body (however that may happen). If you want to have control over your sperm’s fate, keep it to yourself.
Men, of course, will inevitably argue that the debate is not about enforcing dominion over a woman’s body, but rather out of a sense of heroism to “save” an “unborn child.” These types of men will justify their willingness to inject themselves into the personal events of women’s lives with a lot of bottomless explanations, but it essentially will boil down to that’s just how he feels. A personal belief is not reason enough to interfere with someone else’s life, period, regardless of how desperately you believe what you believe. And since a belief often exempts itself from reason, you therefore cannot reason with the unreasonable.
In other words, these types of men just need to mind their own fucking business.
I will point out one gross inconsistency with beliefs, though. For centuries—forever—men, without any consideration as to whether it was the right thing to do or not, have thoughtlessly left the responsibility of raising children to women. With zero qualifications on her resume, a woman was just always assumed to be the natural caregiver in the family. Many men still believe this (some women do, too, but that’s beside the point). Lots of the same men who believe this also believe that women shouldn’t be allowed to have the right to an abortion. So at once, men feel more than confident with women raising their children, but somehow don’t believe that women should have the right to decide whether or not to have children in the first place. What sense does that make?
None. And that’s because men have been making it up as they go along.
It’s been 41 years since Roe v. Wade, and with each year, men increasingly force themselves to the front of the abortion debate. Men’s participation in abortion legislation should not only have decreased since 1973, but they should have recused themselves from the argument altogether.
This will take some getting used to for some men because many of us don’t like boundaries and feel we should be able to go wherever and do whatever we want.
In the meantime, men need to spend more time getting accustomed to the notion that their experience is not the experience of everyone, and that they don’t need to play a part in everything. Argue about it all you like, but it’s uniquely simple: Men just cannot comprehend what it is like for a woman to be pregnant. There is no analogous experience for men that will suffice for that experience only women have. No amount of reading and learning will ever be tantamount to the experience of being pregnant, let alone being pregnant and considering an abortion.
There will surely be some people who will argue that you don’t have to be a member of a group—be it an ethnicity, a race, culture, gender, etc.—to advocate for that group. That’s very much true, you don’t. But that also doesn’t give someone license to advocate for such a group when the group in question is more than able to do it for themselves.
For years, women have been demanding that others—especially men—stop interfering with a woman’s access to abortion services. Men shouldn’t be able to obstruct a woman’s choice, for sure, but it’s not enough that men simply stop interfering and allow women to contribute to the debate equally. Women, in the case of abortion, are more than capable of taking care of themselves and ruling for themselves. The best way that men can support women is to trust in that edict, remove themselves altogether from the debate, and respectfully let women decide what’s best for women.
Drew Bowling writes about language, gender, and mental health, although other topics have been known to enter his orbit. When he’s not writing, he spends his time pretending to be a photographer. Follow his messy thought-trail on Twitter.