While I certainly don’t recommend reading online comment forums relating to abortion as a relaxing pre-bed ritual, there are some interesting, predictable patterns that emerge time and again in these places that are worth examining.
In these largely anonymous places, few people seem to remember that they are (presumably) critically thinking human beings communicating with other (presumably) critically thinking human beings. If some of these people actually spoke this way in person to virtually anyone, they would be about as likely as a bruised cantaloupe to have friends or admirers.
One specific area of vengeance that is sure to come up is that of some women toward men. Men who, whether out of courage or naïveté, think they can join the abortion conversation in a reasonable way soon find out otherwise as virtually all female commenters zero in on this poor easy target.
The retaliation is swift and certain as it is predictable: who are men to tell women what to do with their bodies?! Men can’t have babies, men abandon women all.the.time, men live lives free of consequence and responsibility, men are controlling, overbearing, anti-feminist, likely even downright abusive and dangerous. In short, who are men to have an opinion on whether a baby lives or dies?
Let’s take a moment to release some of that anger in a big ol’ breath. Because ladies, we actually really like men. If it weren’t for men and our dealings with them, we wouldn’t be talking about abortion at all, would we? Maybe we hate that they can walk away without taking responsibility for their child, and maybe we hate that we have to carry a baby for 9 months before its ready to come out (and preferably abstain from alcohol, sushi, unpasteurized cheese and other fun things during that time), and maybe we hate to be held to the same standard of beauty we were before having babies while our bodies have undergone so many changes we no longer recognize parts of them. But does all of this mean we hate men? Even more, does it mean we hate men willing to take a principled stand on a major issue? I think we should be grabbing those men and marrying them and having their babies on purpose.
Men who are willing to enter the abortion debate should theoretically be the same men who would not leave a pregnant girlfriend without financial support, the same men who would not leave a wife for a newer model and never send a child support check, the same men who would have principled ideas on the value of women and on how a woman should be treated.
The men willing to join the abortion debate are men with principles. These principles, in the men I know, extend far beyond an online debate about abortion. These are men who are willing to care deeply, and willing to stand behind decisions and responsibilities even when the going gets tough.
To attack a man for having an opinion on abortion is to say we can only have opinions on things that directly relate to our own life experiences. I have never been homeless, so who am I to have an opinion on homelessness? I have never murdered someone, so who am I to give an opinion on whether murder is right or wrong? I will never have prostate cancer, so how dare I have an opinion on whether treatment for it should be publicly funded?
Personally, I think more men should have an opinion on abortion. Too many women who find themselves pregnant also find themselves with a man who tells her it’s “her decision” when that’s the last thing she wants to hear. That, really, is the ultimate excuse for a man: “It’s your decision” says “I don’t care – about you, your health, our baby, or my role in this.” She actually wants support, someone to talk to, and likely the assurance that she and her child will both be supported, loved and wanted regardless of the circumstances.
If men want to support choice, they need to support women. If men want to support women, they need to have principles. Principled people take a stand regardless of how popular that makes them (hint: usually not very.) Ladies, stop attacking men just because they don’t get pregnant. Instead, engage them on what their opinion really means. Find out if they’re men of principle who genuinely oppose the killing of pre-born children, whether their own or someone else’s, or really the authoritarian, paternalistic control freaks you fear.
LifeNewsNote: Anna Nienhius is the Research and Policy coordinator for WeNeedaLAW.ca