For the last couple of weeks the world has watched as Indian women (and their male supporters) have taken to the streets to protest the horrific gang rape and brutal murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey. The marchers are fighting against what they perceive to be a culture of violence against women in India.
The other day after a frightening mugging on the campus of York University in Toronto, a warning went out urging all members of the community to “be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.”
(I began this post before the U.S.
Now that John Wayne has finally ridden off into the sunset, are we white, straight men still relevant?
My name is Mike Otterman, one of the community managers of Men Advocating Real Change (MARC). I'd like to thank Michael Flood for inviting me to post on XY - an essential platform for discussing and fostering gender equality. An initiative of Catalyst, MARC is an online community for men committed to achieving equality in the workplace. Like XY Online, MARC is a space where men can learn about and increase their awareness of gender inequality—without judgment.
(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.
(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…
This blog entry is going to be a little bit different. I normally don’t comment much on issues that others have commented on well enough already. (And often they do a better job than I would have.)
But at the wise urging of some of the people who comment on this blog, I have decided to dedicate the next 2 posts to the US election. Why? Because it’s important.
Now, I can get pretty cynical when it comes to politicians. In general, I tend to see them as rather power-hungry egomaniacs who only care about your needs when they want your support to either gain or to remain in power. It seems to me that they are often far more focused on gaining power for themselves than they are in doing the right thing.
While that may be too uncharitable, I do think it’s fair to say that politicians are often fair weather friends when it comes to women’s rights.
(For example, if the Democrats are such strong supporters of women, where’s the Equal Rights Amendment now? Where are the female candidates for national office? And don’t even get me started on the Republican record on women’s rights...)
Obama: the clear choice. So I am always hesitant to endorse candidates. But this time the choice is so stark when it comes to women’s rights and to equality for all, that I am urging people to vote for Obama. The Republicans always claim to be about freedom. They always claim to be about morality. But this time, when it comes to civil rights and equality for all, a vote for Romney is a vote that is doubtless on the wrong side of history. And it is absolutely on the wrong side of morality.
(I have posted elsewhere on the extremely close links between support for women’s rights and support for LGBT rights. These issues are deeply interwoven, and the patriarchy hates both heterosexual women and LGBT individuals.)
And what I would like to do now is use the rest of this blog to re-post some brilliant pieces written by two gay men, who clearly show us how a vote for Romney is morally indefensible.
Doug Wright, who has won both Pulitzers and Tonys for his work, posted a powerful piece calling out people who choose their pocketbooks over basic human decency. He wrote:
"I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on gay rights. Fine.
Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say,
'My taxes and take-home pay mean more than your fundamental civil rights, the sanctity of your marriage, your right to visit an ailing spouse in the hospital, your dignity as a citizen of this country, your healthcare, your right to inherit, the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and your very personhood.'
It’s like voting for George Wallace during the Civil Rights movements, and apologizing for his racism. You’re still complicit. You’re still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don’t get to walk away clean, because you say you 'disagree' with your candidate on these issues.”
And actor Max Von Essen, who is currently appearing in Evita on Broadway, wrote a similarly-powerful post to a friend on Facebook:
Listen, I know you didn't mean any harm commenting on this post and I like you, we had some great times growing up. But Romney and Ryan believe that I am less than you. They believe I am a second class citizen and don't deserve the same rights that you had the privilege of being born into simply by being straight. They want to add a constitutional amendment that will ban gay marriage forever. It will set us back decades and ensure that I never legally have the opportunity to have a family or a partner in my lifetime.
They also believe that being at your partner's side when he/she is dying is a benefit, not a civil right. They could keep me from my partner dying in a hospital. Could you even imagine something like that in your own life? Being separated from your wife on her death bed? Could you imagine your marriage never being recognized and being told that your family is not a family and you do not deserve any federal rights that comes with marriage. Over 1100 rights. Did you know that? 1100.
Ryan doesn't believe in the hate crimes act fought unwaveringly for by Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, murdered for being gay in Wyoming. Murdered for being gay. Could you imagine if I was murdered for being gay? Could you really look my mom in the eye and say 'oh well, we can not prosecute this crime as a hate crime'?
I know there are important issues involved in this campaign. I know people are suffering and the economy has not improved at a rate we all wish it would. Yes, people are suffering but the gay and lesbian community has been suffering for hundreds of years and I am so tired of it. So tired of feeling that I am less than. So tired of knowing I have friends on here who will vote for someone who will keep me a second class citizen for my entire lifetime. I have already spent half a lifetime hiding, half a lifetime conforming. It is exhausting, demeaning and I am worn out. I want to love myself full out.
I want a president who can look me in the eye and say 'You are equal!' 'You are equal to everyone else in this country and I will fight for your rights. The time is now and it is long overdue.' Romney and Ryan could not look me in the eye and say that and I feel sorry for every gay and questioning child who might have to listen to a president who believes that he/she is not equal. Children will take their lives. It is the WORST form of trickle down bullying and it absolutely splits my heart in half.
When the president says you are less than, it gives permission to every authority figure, every politician, every teacher, every bully on the playground to push you around and bully you and treat you less than. It is dangerous and lives will be lost.
If this is not important to you, please remove me from your friends list. I need people in my life who love me and consider me 100% equal.
Doug and Max said it so much better than I can. But let me just add this:
How many more gay kids have to die before we find the courage and the integrity to build a society that tells them that we love them every bit as much as we love our straight kids?
How does Romney feel personally about people who are LGBT? Who the hell knows? (Who the hell knows anything about who the real Romney is, anyway?) But what we do know is that his policies toward Americans who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender are hateful. That they have no place in America in the 21st century.
On which side of history -- of morality -- are you willing to stand?
Profeminist blog fail! (When rape myths contaminate the thinking even of those of us who like to think that we “get it.”)