Roe v. Wade why I want to hear from Men.
I have spent the last two days wrestling with my own fury at the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court. Some of my ‘wrestling’ has been in the context of being an Australian and, as many a social media warrior has asked, ‘what does this have to do with us anyway?’ (and therefore by default, how useful is my personal rage?). More deeply, however, I observe that I am particularly angry with the male silences I am noticing – in fact, these silences are so loud, for me – and several other women I have spoken to – they are deafening.
My husband tried to quell my rage by reassuring me of his own belief that it’s “my body, my choice” however, he walked into the trap of backing that up with, “… and therefore, as a man, I feel on very dangerous ground making any kind of comment about this.” I actually understand his point of view – he does not want to offend – however, his POV still did earn him a couple of hours of ‘loud silence’ from me while I composed a dignified response. This article is part of that response.
Today I read two specific posts from men: one by organisational psychologist, Adam Grant and the second by insubordination expert Prof. Todd Kashdan. Each of them offered constructive suggestions for ways to think through and discuss this issue with others. (For clarification, each of them is also against the overturning of Roe V. Wade). I was surprised by my own response: I felt so grateful reading what each of them wrote that I actually welled up. The key thought in my head was, “Yes, they GET it!”
I questioned why seeing their thoughts mattered so much to me and I was reminded of March 2021, during Australia’s #MeToo peak and the March4Justice. I made what felt like a cheeky request of my 76-year-old Dad, I asked him to march with his granddaughter and I. Without hesitation he said yes. My Dad is not a usually protester, in fact, this may even have been his first march, but my daughter and I have since frequently discussed how great it was to have Dad there. How strongly heard, supported, valued and cared for we felt through his joining us that day. When I discussed this feeling of comfort I got from having my Dad march with us, one friend joked that perhaps I was of a vintage that I was so inherently subordinated that it still takes a man’s voice on an issue to help me feel heard and soothed. I don’t think this is the case.
My truth is that I am now completely EXHAUSTED by decades of feeling alone, (albeit, ‘alone’ with many other highly intelligent, passionate, educated women), in understanding and explaining why gender and gender equality is not simply ‘a woman’s issue’ and is actually beneficial for everyone in society. Roe v. Wade being overturned is not about the law, religion, abortion – at its heart, it is about gendered power. It is very easy for most of us to look at a nation like Afghanistan and see the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls and see how that is about power and control – keeping women in ‘their place’ through how they are seen (or not) and how much education they have access to. The Taliban is not stupid – they know that educated women in positions of power leads to less corruption, more equity for and tolerance of all, and a keener focus on issues of humanity such as health, education, climate action. The Taliban could not even contemplate sharing power with women – it would be their undoing. The Roe v. Wade overturning is no different. It is a way for a small number of (mostly) white men, who hold outdated views, to assert their power and silence women and force them into submission and dangerous choices.
Roe v. Wade being overturned is not about the law, religion, abortion – at its heart, it is about gendered power. It is a way for a small number of (mostly) white men, who hold outdated views, to assert their power and silence women and force them into submission and dangerous choices.
Abortion happens whether it is legal or not – it is a sad tale of complicated reasons that is as old as time. Research shows that restricting access to abortion does not prevent people from seeking abortion, it simply makes it more dangerous, and even deadly.
A statement from Michelle Bachelet*, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, explains that “… access to safe, legal and effective abortion is firmly rooted in international human right law and is at the core of women and girls’ autonomy, and ability to make their own choices about their bodies and lives, free of discrimination, violence and coercion.”
The women most impacted by this decision in the US will be poor, young and marginalised women and/or non-binary folk with a uterus. While the US Supreme Court takes its country backwards, over the past 25 years, more than 50 countries with previously restrictive laws have changed their abortion legislation to be less so.
At the bottom of this article are links to some of the many articles written by academics in the last days and months that express – far more eloquently than I can – how abortion rights benefit men and why men’s voices on these issues are important. There are also articles about the politicisation of the court system in the US and the symbolism of decisions like this and how wide-reaching their impacts can be. You need only look at some of the language used by far right political parties in the recent Australian elections to see the influence of what happens abroad on our shores: calls for ‘Freedom’ or ‘Make Australia Great Again’ even ‘voter fraud’ was suggested by one special QLD-based candidate prompting the Australian Electoral Commission to explicitly refute these claims.**
What would make me – and I’m guessing quite a few other upset women right now – feel even slightly better about this ugly, backward decision would be to see just as many posts shared/commented on/made by some of our male allies. We know that a majority of Australian men and women (76%) support access to abortion for women in Australia (see below ***). Also, I really didn’t want to have to spell this out BUT: we do know what it takes for a pregnancy to occur in the first place (generally – although yes, I know not always – A PENIS). So let’s add some of that ‘big swinging dick energy’ to this important issue.
*https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/06/1121312 United Nations