I recently opened dialogue with like-minded Dudes for Choice (DfC) with the hope of piecing together common threads that bring us together as a united political voice. This brief entry will serve to open that ongoing dialogue and encourage other DfC to jump in on this discussion.
This week’s topic: privilege. In discussing feminist politics with 15 DfC the idea of male privilege surfaced more frequently than any other. Indeed, one of the primary reasons that I am pro-choice has to do with my ability to challenge my male privilege.
A brief personal disclosure. I was raised Southern Baptist (to which I remain in a state of recovery) with a hybrid religiosity infused with Mormonism, Seventh-Day Adventist-ism, and a touch of Methodist ideology. That said, I was raised to believe abortion to be a matter closed for discussion. When I entered college I took a women’s studies course—Women and Their Bodies. After this class, I declared Women’s Studies my second major alongside Sociology. I learned of privilege. I learned of oppression. I learned of my white (passing) male privilege as well as my oppressed status as an out of the closet multiracial queer. I came to organize on and off campus and learned the importance of having allies by my side in all that I do politically. And it was there that I began to see the hardship of other classes challenging their own privilege in order to stand in solidarity with me and with other groups seeking their own liberation.
As a male, I have the ability (read privilege) to walk away from the abortion debate without question believing that this is simply “a woman’s issue.” Or, I can remain engaged with the debate. I choose to remain engaged. And this is but one way that I choose to constantly challenge my male privilege.
In discussing pro-choice politics with DfC four trends emerged that are connected to male privilege. Each of these points will be elaborated on in coming weeks but are worthy of mention here so that discussion may ensue.
1. Most of the work that goes into being DfC is both mental and emotional.
DfC are relegated to male dominated arenas where discussions tend to maintain a tinge of blatant sexism. To be a DfC in these arenas is to maintain a strong mental and emotional grounding where one is able to stay focused on the discussion at hand without giving way to emotional defenses. Most of the DfC that I talked to had at least one story in which they found themselves amidst a horde of sexist men on the offense. Most of the DfC I talked to felt that the overwhelming feeling was that the dominant men resented the fact that there are increasing numbers of men leaving the heteropatriarchal bandwagon and jumping on the side of women for women’s safety and rights.
2. DfC cannot be passive in their beliefs.
In a highly sexist world that relegates women to particular realms, DfC must be willing to let their voices be heard—within reason. Due to the overwhelming physical harm/threat given to those men who take on effeminate traits or who take the side of women, it is understood that there is a time and place for DfC to make a stand. However, to be a DfC does not mean passive tactics. It means challenging your male privilege and actively seeking out discussions with other men and women.
3. Queer DfC are faced with the doubly trying task of maintaining a strong political ground between hegemonic-heterosexual maleness and gay community maleness.
As a queer DfC, being pro-choice involves dealing with the aforementioned heterosexual male world as well as the excessively sexist gay male world. As noted by the vast majority of the DfC I have talked to thus far, many gay men turn their backs to women and their rights believing that they have no need for women in their lives as gay men. As such, queer DfC are forced to deal with sexism in both the hetero-male sphere and the gay-male sphere.
4. DfC must get/be/remain as educated as possible about the abortion debate.
Because men cannot have an abortion, get pregnant (open for discussion), nor menstruate (again, open for discussion) it is but one task of DfC to actively seek knowledge on these processes and politics. In order to fully understand the politics of the abortion/choice debate, DfC must do everything in their power to seek the current debates as well as to be aware of what is going on in the workings of the abortion debates.
I maintain that political action is a collective project in need of allies that can work together to open dialogue and to encourage social change. To be a DfC means that in challenging my male privilege I also seek to enact social change.
As a Dude for Choice, I am an ally to women, women’s rights and to the pro-choice debate.