Reproductive Justice - The Ultimate Other
Reproductive Justice – is the ultimate “other” – for: white, cis, hettish or het, upper-middle class men.
It is easier for me, because I am Jewish. It is easier for me because I am Autistic. Being “different” – can lead to greatly divergent paths. It can lead to Severe Trauma(s) that can isolate oneself. It can lead to extreme – superiority and/or inferiority complexes which can further isolate oneself.
Being different can also help one think “outside the box”. I saw a 35-40ish year old, nicely dressed, white woman sitting crying on the sidewalk at 7:45 a.m., near our condo in Chicago. I had an important meeting on zoom at 8:30 a.m.
I knew what was right for me.
I asked her if she was: “okay”. She said: “no”. I asked her how I could help her. We walked together to our parking space and got in our car.
I helped her try to find her car until I ran out of time. She told me that she had been out all night. I tried to support her. I never asked her name. I felt sad when she told me that she had asked others to help her, and none had offered her any assistance.
We – aren’t bad people!
We care about our children, partners, parents, siblings, and friends. Many of us care about racism, sexism, classism, homo/lesbian/trans phobias and similar.
We lack curiosity in so many areas. We don’t seek to learn – outside of our comfort zones. We are scared of making mistakes, and use that as an excuse not to try – far too frequently. We don’t want to feel guilt or shame. We frequently want to stifle our feelings, and pretend that they don’t exist.
We anesthetize ourselves in multiple ways! Besides the drinking, the drugs, and the food, we have spectator sports, movies, and their stars, music, television, meditation and (often) our religions and our religious practices. In moderation these things can (of course) be helpful for us.
Men are our buddies. We compliment each other. Men hang out with other men. Women can seem more threatening, unless they are listening to us and building us up.
Why are we living in a world – staying away from The Others? Many Women are different from us. Many Black and Brown Men are different from us. Many less affluent people are different from us.
Women often have other female friends. They share a lot with their friends.
Black Men often find comfort and support amongst other Black Men. White men often don’t understand them. Women often don’t understand what Black Men are going through related to gender and sometimes race.
It goes deeper than this. Homophobia can intervene, regardless of whether we are gay or het. Perhaps when we are non-binary, it may be significantly different, however we may not relate well – as the gender non-binary people live in such a different world.
As children we learn of The Patriarchy from an early age. Black children, particularly boys, commonly hear a horrible word from an early age. Caring parents teach them survival skills. A toy gun and even a cell phone can seem threatening to authority figure or those who make themselves into them.
School often divides us into successes and failures. Where we are successful, commonly we are shielded from failures. Where we participate in competitive sports, we frequently are divided into successes and failures.
When we fail, often we live in limbo. We may strive for success. We may drop out. We may develop poor self-esteem.
When we succeed, there often are successive levels of success, so that we must constantly strive to be better.
As we grow, we don’t learn relationship with others. We may strive for a primary partner. We may also strive for scoring with young women (or men).
We may develop a sort of community. It can be a family community. It can be a work community. Whatever community we have, often goes only deep enough to not be too intense, too threatening, or too … .
We tend to try to fix things. We find it much tougher to listen and really deeply hear others, as well as ourselves. We are in our heads. Getting out of our heads – is limited – to things like meditation.
I am still learning! On both the 50th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and the day before it – this year, I was at a counter-demonstration and then a demonstration. Among us were probably 90% women and trans-folks, and 10% men.
I wore one of my tee-shirts – that says: “Keep Abortion Safe and Legal” in English on the back, and Spanish on the front. Others – either compliment me on my shirt, or say nothing.
In my normal Men's World in California roughly 60% of the men are white, and perhaps 10% are Black. It is very strange (or not) that roughly 60% of men's comments are from Black Men, and perhaps 10% from white men.
During the two meaningful days in January, 2023, women saw my shirt and my sign. The sign mentioned Men for Equity and Reproductive Justice. Some women reacted (positively). They asked questions, caring questions. They thanked me for wearing my shirt.
I consciously engaged with nearly all the (mostly white) men I saw those two days. I didn’t bring up issues related to abortion/ reproductive justice. I probably talked with 100 men. None of them commented upon my t-shirt, my sign, nor anything relevant to our common support of these issues.
Reproductive justice is important to me; very important! Roughly 20-25% of teenage girls lack access to tampons, or other sanitary supplies (https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicebroster/2021/05/20/almost-a-quarter-of-students-struggle-to-access-period-products-new-study-finds/?sh=7cfd191c49de + https://www.npr.org/2021/12/02/1056830306/free-tampons-public-schools + https://girlsinc.org/5-things-to-know-about-menstrual-equity-and-period-poverty/ ) . I didn’t know anything about this, until very recently.
Girls – who can’t afford sanitary supplies, often miss school during their periods. They are ashamed to have blood visible on their clothes while they are at school.
Bodily autonomy goes well beyond abortion. Access to abortion is also very important!
Are adult men and teenage boys on the frontlines on this issue? Of course not!
I know that building up support among fellow white men is a matter of individual connections, and building allyship, that goes well beyond buddyship. It involves sharing our stories, developing trust. It involves educating ourselves. It also involves moving forward into deliberate actions in our lives. Such work is both – “sticking our necks out” and “standing behind” women, girls, and trans people – as “Outsider Allies”.
Please join me – however you can! I’m not alone, but there are too few of us! Also – please support – the true heroes, most significantly the Black and Brown and Native Queer Women!