Editor’s Note: I am shocked that contraception has risen to the top of debatable topics in 2012. I am also shocked that contraception is considered a women’s issue in many circles. In this guest post, Misty McLaughlin asks men to join women as we stand up in outrage to the recent public discourse about reproductive health and our joint reproductive rights and responsibilities. Thanks to Role/Reboot for letting us re-publish Misty’s post.
In a beautiful twist on the gruesome women’s-health-as-political-theater we’ve all been subjected to lately, female legislators in two states have introduced bills to limit men’s access to birth control. Representative Yasmin Neal of Georgia has forwarded a bill to prevent men from access to vasectomies, while a collection of female legislators introduced a similar piece of legislation in Missouri.
Know your birth control!
Dear male readers out there, listen up.
- Demand decent male birth control. Start by advocating for decent birth control options for men, of which there are paltry few. Somehow, we have the technology to accomplish all sorts of amazing things, including baby-making outside the context of heterosexual sex. Just as there’s a strong market demand for more and better options to help people become parents, we have to establish that there’s a market for male birth control technologies beyond condoms and vasectomies. This requires insisting that men are capable of being central, reproductively responsible players in both reproduction and the prevention thereof.
- Know your birth control. Take the sugar pills. If you’re in a relationship with a woman who is doing all of the birth control work for you both, it’s time to step up. Get to know your birth control (because it’s yours too), and find a way to play an active part in it. One of my husband’s ex-girlfriends used to make him take the pink sugar pills on the 4th week of her cycles. As his wife, I love her forever for insisting that this was his responsibility, and I love him for stepping up to claim it.
- Don’t let the men on stage now speak for you. Because in the absence of other strong male voices in this debate, that all-male panel of anti-choice, anti-contraception religious officials and professors who testified? They’re the men on stage in this debate, and they are speaking for you.
- Follow the lead of the men from Texas. And I don’t mean Rick Perry, nor the particularly horrific cuts to Texas’ Women’s Health Programs recently doled out by the Texas state legislature. I’m talking about the fellows at Stand Up Men, who have charged the men of Texas to fight “the infection of silence,” as Glenn W. Smith and James Moore called it this week—a silence that results from treating this as a War on Women, instead of a war against us all. Talk to your legislators, talk to the women in your lives, and most importantly, talk to other men. Get on the stage, and bring other men with you.