First, a little back story. Last night, my husband and I were watching The Ed Show. Ed was interviewing a couple of women about the response to Richard Mourdock’s tone-deaf comment about the sanctity of life created by rape (I’m certain you’ve all been beaten to death with the quote, so I’m not going to repeat it here) and about how outraged women are about the ways in which their bodies and lives and choices are so callously talked about (and decided) by prominent (yet utterly clueless) members of the GOP.
It was right about there that my beloved nearly scared me out of my seat by YELLING at the t.v. (and this is pretty much a direct quote), “WHAT ABOUT THE MEN!? What about the men who are fucking outraged by this bullshit, HUH?!”
God, I love that guy.
Ever since the GOP stopped bothering to hide its misogynist agenda – in fact, they’ve gotten downright giddy about it – I’ve been wondering about the relative silence from (some) men about the things that women have been complaining about for a while now.
I’m fortunate in that I associate with some pretty wonderful men who understand, without anyone having to point it out to them, that there are a lot of really important women in their lives that they would like to keep safe and healthy and free from government interference. Mothers and sisters, wives, girlfriends, lovers, office mates, neighbors, aunts, cousins, in-laws, best friends; I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that literally every man can think of at least one woman he cares deeply about in one way or another.
Accepting this as true, it stands to reason that there should be more men speaking up about this (as my husband so eloquently put it) bullshit. I mean, really; ask any straight guy how he feels about the ease with which the woman/women in his life should have access to contraception, for example, and I bet you’ll find more than a few of them who are all for universal coverage. Talk to any man whose (insert relation here) has had a cancer scare (or, worse yet, an actual diagnosis) and ask them how they feel about mammograms and PAP smears and Planned Parenthood, and I’ll bet you’ll find more than a few of them who are all for them. I’m betting you’ll even find a few men who, even if they’re not crazy about the idea of abortion, understand that to force a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is tantamount to denying her personhood; Frederick Douglass is quoted as saying “I did not know what a slave was until I found out I couldn’t do the things I wanted.” To deny women choice is to enslave them to the State, plain and simple, and there are a lot of men (at least, in my circle) who actually understand that.
WAY back in March, a friend of mine wrote a short but powerfully persuasive piece about why he stands up, and about why more men should (it made me well up when I first read it, and it hasn’t lost any of its punch; “You want to go after our sluts and prostitutes? The women I love? You’re going to have to go through me first” gets me every time). I was excited to see Kevin Bacon in one protest ad against the GOP agenda and Jason Alexander in another. I’ve heard Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert speak – in some pretty explicit and uncompromising (and bitterly funny) ways – about why the GOP’s policies toward women are dead wrong. I’m pretty sure I remember Jay Smooth doing a video about it, too, but of course I can’t find it to link to that particular edition.
My point, though, is that these are the best examples I can come up with of men speaking out about the draconian, dehumanizing, and just wrong things that the GOP is doing and saying (out loud, in public, and with no shame). I want more men to get angry. I want more men to understand that these are NOT just women’s issues; if he loves a woman – ANY woman – these issues should matter to him, too. While I’m heartened that my husband is infuriated by all of this nonsense (though I do hope he’ll give me a little warning before his next enthusiastic expression of that outrage), I’m saddened that I’m not hearing it from more men.