Monday, February 23, 2009

Men and Abortion

Via Jill at Feministe, this piece on AlterNet (well, originally, Nerve) is really good. The author does a good job of being really honest about how she felt about her decision to have an abortion. The reactions from men ranged from the style of "OMG you're so brave" to downright judgmental:
The conversation from there went smoothly enough, despite all the speech-slurring, until I said I'd felt no attachment or angst going into the clinic. He pounced: "How could you not have felt anything? I don't believe you! It's only natural to feel something."
The piece is really about the fact that liberals haven't really figured out a good way to talk about choice. The right has it down pat. To them, it's a tragedy or it's murder. All the left has come up with is "choice." While that's an important part of the discussion, it doesn't address the idea that some women who have abortions might feel relief, sadness, authority, or any mix of emotions.

The notion that people can't talk about abortion in a real way is particular to men, even liberal right-to-choose, million-woman-marching men isn't totally out of left field. Although it's not just straight men that can't always articulate this subject well (even if they're totally comfortable disclosing the details of their testicular cancer), it's a problem of how we deal with this issue.

Abortion is a topic that women talk about. In fact, it neatly falls into the category of "women's issues." The implication is not just that men can't and shouldn't talk about it. I think all too often we're unwilling to let men enter into the abortion debate because they cannot be put in that situation, so their feelings are irrelevant. But if men are asked to think, to really think, about this issue, then perhaps we can take abortion out of the pro-choice, pro-life dichotomy and begin to talk about how this is an issue that affects people's lives. It is part of reality. By making it so private you can't share women can't even share it with the next person she dates, abortion is a reality that men never have to deal with. And I think that's probably a bad thing.

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