I am a heterosexual man. I am also a male feminist. I am one of many heterosexual male feminists. Some of us like to view sexually explicit images. Others do not. I am one of the former, and will continue to be, but hopefully with eyes open.
I have recently turned 28, and Roe has recently turned 35. It’s a time of reassessment, and to ask “where next?”. More recently I ask this of the pro-choice heterosexual male community.
Whatever we do, where ever we volunteer, whomever for we campaign this year, where ever we donate money, lets travel forward with this understanding:
- If we get our lady pregnant, we must let the choice be hers, and hers alone. If we are in a serious relationship, naturally we will need to open our hearts. But we cannot place pressure on her decision. Whatever she decides, we must support her, emotionally and financially, even if the relationship itself ends. Don’t worry, we don’t have to marry her. Chances are she won’t want that either. Never marry just for the sake of the pregnancy. It’s hurtful to both of you.
- It is wrong and misogynistic to force a woman in either direction in her choices on abortion, whether or when to have sex, what to wear, which gender to love, whether or not to use birth control or EC, whether or when to have children, the length of her hair, the length of her leg hair, or what imagery is acceptable for her eyes. And force in either direction is equally wrong. And force can be subtle and unconscious, so we must be conscientious to restrain ourselves, even when we are a “progressive, non-sexist man”. It OK to share our heart and our fears – in a relationship, its necessary – but never in a pressuring way
- Criticism isn’t a threat to us. We always have the choice to follow or not follow advice, even if its harsh. So let a huge chunk of it reach your ears. If you need a rest, take one, and keep on reading it. If its really nasty, walk away, but set the bar high on what you consider “nasty”. Drawing and re-drawing that line is sometimes tough, but that is our life struggle.
- Learn about how we men are privileged. Here’s a start. But its only a start.
- We are responsible for our actions and inactions. Whether the action/inaction is intentional, unintentional, individual, or collective, we are responsible for it. We are also responsible for staying informed on the issues, but also for not pretending we know something when we don’t.
- Violence and harassment against women must be called out, whenever and whereever. Which means we tell our brothers to stop hooting on the street at women unless we know, she’s ok with it. Chances are we won’t know, so we’ll have to assume its wrong and tell the guys to stop. Even if she doesn’t protest, that doesn’t mean she’s ok with it.
- Reproductive justice requires...abortion access, sure, but also comprehensive sexuality education, pre-natal and post-natal care, an adoption system that works, access to condoms and contraception, cheap prices and health insurance covering contraception, public funding for abortion for those who can’t afford it, confidential reproductive and sexual health counseling for adolescents ,which means no more parental notification laws, rejection of the bogus concepts of “partial birth abortion” and “post-abortion syndrome”, funded research on microbicides that could help condoms prevent STDs, a national and global plan to fight AIDS, and the repeal of the global gag rule. And a puppy.
- We must understand how reproductive injustice hurts women through their diverse identities. Undocumented women, servicewomen, adolescent women, women with abusive parents, spouses, or romantic partners, women in rural areas, women who are sex workers, women in religious communities, transgender women, women of color, women who’ve been raped, poor women, lesbian or bisexual women.
- Fight for LGBT, racial, and economic equality and justice. Which includes the health needs of transgender men and women. They are frequently neglected by the health care system. One example is how transgender men have to attend to the health needs of the female physiology inside them. They are men who need female health care. Because of this they can face ridicule, even in the doctor’s office. This is cruel, wrong, and must be stopped. Everyone has a right to the health care they need.
- Fight against global warming and global warring.
- We are forever evolving. We will always have flaws, as will our fellow feminists who are female, gay, or transgender. There will be times ahead where we are insensitive or wrong or mean. All of us are human because of these flaws, but all of us our responsible for correcting, or at least managing, these flaws if they impede our work and relationships, and we are responsible for being conscious of how they can impede our work and relationships.
- We need time to flirt. Have fun with the girls, push the envelope, but always keep part of your brain on the lines you shouldn’t cross. Every so often, consider re-drawing those lines. Sometimes more restraint, sometimes less (hopefully the latter!)
- VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!! And the collective responsibility is to get your dead-ass friends to vote, which will include some females who aren’t necessarily better informed than dudes.
The above is a good start. For remember our understanding of the needs are forever evolving. We live, we learn, we work, we reassess, we decide "what next?", and we do accordingly, and we cycle again.
I wish for every heterosexual man to celebrate Roe with their sisters in the human family, and to never feel too guilty, unless you have to.
To my straight brothers, peace.