An Open Letter To All Men Folk
Across this country, women’s reproductive rights are under assault. If you wished anyone a Happy Mother’s Day and you are not actively supporting a woman’s right to make decisions about her own sexual health, you’re a hypocrite. It is impossible to celebrate motherhood while systematically divesting women of authority over their own bodies.
We cannot honor mothers past, present and future, while removing their autonomy and denying their agency.
If you identify as male and want to move beyond lip service in your support of women, here are suggestions from women on how you can advocate in behalf of women everywhere. Leverage your male privilege (and your platforms) to boost the signal, but don’t get it twisted: this isn’t about you. Women have been saying these things for eons.
Male ignorance around the female reproductive system is both astounding and inexcusable.
Neither the empirical experience of women or established scientific medical data requires male belief. Male feelings are secondary (or entirely irrelevant) to women’s lives. Learn and teach facts; then make fact-based decisions.
The silence of “good” men kills women. When women are not present, speak up in their behalf. Talk to other men. Talk to boys. Talk to your legislators. And when women are present, really listen.
Acknowledge that whenever women suffer, marginalized women suffer disproportionately.
DONATE TO NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND LOCAL GRASSROOTS MOVEMENTS.
Take that extra thirty cents (on average) you make on the dollar and give generously to organizations that provide reproductive health care, birth control, and access to safe abortions for women. This includes national institutions like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, NARAL, and smaller local organizations (link in the comments). And while you have your wallet out…
Research their voting records on reproductive rights, then donate to and vote for women who are running for elected office. Give women legislative power; then get (and stay) the hell out of their way as they exercise it.
DECENTER MALE PLEASURE.
There’s a suggestion circulating right now (based on the Greek play Lysistrata) advocating women go on a “sex strike.” This line of reasoning reduces women down to their basest utility in relation to men. Women should not need to leverage their bodies to have a say over their reproductive rights.
The other problem with this message is it centers on male pleasure. Aside from queer erasure, women should not be denied pleasure just because men are assholes. There are plenty of things (heterosexual) men can do in the name of women’s pleasure that do not involve male ejaculation, which is the only thing that can cause pregnancy. Women deserve orgasms, and sex that is not centered in male pleasure or reproduction. Clip your fingernails guys; now is a good time for men to work on those hand and mouth skills.
Don’t just offer women a seat at the proverbial tables of power; move aside. Better yet, get up and give a woman your seat.
LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE.
The growing cluster-fuck of local anti-abortion laws are all attempts to overturn a woman’s constitutional right to safe abortions. Stop being reactive. Research voting records of candidates, then vote in local, state, and national elections. Third party votes, protest votes, and abdicating your right to vote, costs lives.
Guys, there is no middle ground here, no neutral position. There are no concessions to make. You are either actively anti-oppression, or you have passively taken the side of the oppressors.
A woman’s right to choose always has been and always will be intrinsically her own.
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