men, masculinities and gender politics

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Should we name the baby “Mitt”? (Thoughts on why men should care deeply about abortion rights.)

(It seems that most gay men already know whom it makes the most sense to vote for, so this post is aimed at us straight guys.)

So, listen up, straight guys!

Fully one-half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.

One-third of all American women will get an abortion by the time they are 45.

Mitt Romney and his running mate want to take reproductive choice away.

Yet they continually lead in the polls among straight male voters.

And that’s just nuts.

Here’s why…

(a.k.a. “Don’t be a ‘but’!”)

But I care more about the economy than I do about abortion rights! Oh yeah? Well consider this: even if you think that Romney’s plan has any substance to it (which it doesn’t really seem to), just remember that perhaps the most economically devastating thing that you can encounter in your life is to suddenly find yourself having to provide financially for an unplanned child. The money you’ve been trying to use to pay down your debt? For a down payment on a house? For retirement? For a nice little place on the coast? For a new car? Or for that trip through Europe or Africa or Asia? You will now spend it on diapers. On baby food. On baby sitters. On daycare.

Or on child support.

But the Republicans don’t really care about abortion anyway! You may be right. Some Republicans do, some Republicans don’t. I don’t think Mitt Romney really gives a hoot about it.

(After all, while campaigning for office in in Massachusetts, Romney used to give an impassioned pro-choice speech about his family’s grieving the death of Ann Keenan, his brother-in-law’s 21 year-old sister, who died in 1963 from an illegal abortion! We sure haven’t heard him give that speech lately…. So I guess he no longer gives a shit about her? Or maybe she was just another political pawn for him to use and then discard?)

But the very fact that Mitt Romney doesn’t seem to care all that much about abortion makes him possibly even more dangerous when it comes to threatening our reproductive freedom! Since he doesn’t actually care about abortion rights one way or the other, he will quietly give away Americans’ reproductive freedom without even a second thought. But because he won’t be doing it on principle – but rather solely out of political expediency – he won’t make a big deal about it. He will do it very subtly. On the sly.

And he will get away with it.

He will shore up his right-wing political base by putting anti-choice judges in place. And then when Roe v. Wade is overturned, he will do the “Mitt Romney Shuffle” and simply blame the Court. He will say: “I’m sorry that you are unhappy about losing your right to obtain an abortion. But there is nothing more that can be done about it. The Supreme Court has made its ruling.”

Maybe the Republican Party’s anti-choice stance really is just a sop to the religious right. Maybe most rich, white, male, Republican politicians don’t actually care all that much about abortion rights. (After all, the rich always have access to abortion. They have doctors in their back pockets.) But it really doesn’t matter what the Republican political leadership truly thinks in their heart of hearts. Because in order to consolidate their power they are going to screw you all the same. And you won’t be able to do a thing about it.

But abortion rights don’t affect me! (version #1): No woman I know has gotten an abortion! Oh really? You really think that you know absolutely none of the one-in-three women who have gotten an abortion? Well, you’re wrong. (But with an attitude like that, it’s no wonder that they haven’t told you about it.)

But abortion rights don’t affect me! (version #2): I’ve never gotten anyone pregnant! Oh really? And you know this exactly how? How can you be so sure that of all of the women whom you have ever been with sexually, not one of them has ever accidentally gotten pregnant as a result? That not one of them ever went ahead and took care of the situation on her own – without telling you? The one-in-three women who get an abortion during their lifetimes don’t get pregnant all by themselves, bucko. What makes you so sure that you haven’t played a role in creating those statistics?

But despite all you say, I still don’t think that abortion rights are my problem! Well okay then. Go ahead and vote for Romney and see what happens. And by the way, do you mind if I call you “Daddy”? Need any help setting up the nursery? Or maybe a loan to help with the child support payments?

Are you going to name the baby “Mitt”?

Look, I hate to be making the sort arguments that appeal only to men’s self interest. I would much prefer to spend my time and energy talking about higher human values. Like justice. Like equality. Like liberty. But the guys who say that they are going to vote for Romney because of economic reasons – and who choose to ignore his position on reproductive freedom – they don’t seem to care a whole lot about those higher values. In a (probably misguided) attempt to protect their pocket books, they are unapologetically choosing to vote in their own perceived financial self-interest.

So maybe it’s time that someone pointed out that supporting women’s reproductive freedom is in men’s financial self-interest as well…