Now, I know what you’re thinking: I don’t shave my legs, I’ve never worn a bra, and I am obsessed with cats. So, really, I’m just a stereotypical feminist. But because I’m a guy, it’s seen as somehow weird or unmasculine to self-identify as a feminist, and weirder still to self-identify as a pro-life feminist.
Yes, men can be feminists, too! And they can be pro-life. At the same time.
For over two centuries, feminists from Mary Wollstonecraft, to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to Alice Paul, and yes, to Susan B. Anthony, have argued the proposition that both women and their children deserve every opportunity at life. And these principles are complementary, not contradictory.
When I say I am a pro-life feminist, I do not mean that I support some vague concept of women’s rights. I do not mean that I am latching onto a label because it’s trendy. You don’t need a BuzzFeed video full of wannabe lumberjack-hipsters boasting about their Feminist Pride™ to inspire you
to be a feminist. I would even wager that most people are feminists but just aren’t comfortable with… the F-word.
But words mean things. A feminist is, by definition, someone who stands for equality of the sexes. What fair-minded person is against that? If I were to say, “My job is to drive around in a truck with a loud siren extinguishing fires and
occasionally rescuing cats from trees (I told you I’m obsessed with cats), but I am not a firefighter,” you would say, “Of course, you’re a firefighter. You just don’t like that F-word!”
The same is true with being a feminist. And if you walk like a feminist, and if you talk like a feminist, then I hate to break it to you, but you’re a feminist!
But why? Why the hostility to “the F-word”? Well, have you seen how some so-called “feminists” treat people, particularly pro-life people? The philosophy of feminism is one of nonviolent solutions, and that includes mutual collaboration. But too often, we see our friends on the other side of the debate seeking to be exclusive, rather than inclusive.
We are told that no true feminist can be pro-life, that abortion “access” is a central tenet of feminism. That would certainly be a shock to our feminist foremothers (and forefathers)!
Our position is nothing new. In fact, it is the position most consistent with the first feminists, who fought for women’s right to vote, to own property, and to receive a quality education. The women and men who advocated until their last breath for these rights all, without known exception, opposed abortion and saw it not as the liberation of women or men, but rather, as a betrayal of the gift of motherhood.
But just as some of those who are pro-choice are uncomfortable with the idea of pro-life people calling themselves feminists, so too are some pro-life people uncomfortable with the label “feminist.” And although we as Feminists for Life are obviously all too happy to embrace that word, we get the reluctance on behalf of some good-hearted people to do so. Especially guys.
I wish to ask my feminist brothers reading this article: How often have you been told that your opinion on abortion doesn’t matter because you’re a man? To my feminist sisters: same question, but different reasoning. Have you been told that you are the wrong race, or sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status even to question abortion? That you have some sort of “privilege” you didn’t even know was a thing, and therefore everything you say is worthless?
Truth is not any less true just because you don’t like the person saying it. And the truth is: Abortion hurts women! And kills children! It is a sign that we have failed to meet women’s basic needs and in so doing, we have pitted mothers against their children in a zero-sum game, and everyone is the loser—except, of course, for the abortion provider who, in the words of novelist and suffragist Eleanor Kirk, “pocket[s] a big fee and a little bundle of flesh at the same time.”
True feminism is not a good ol’ girls club with a “No Boys Allowed” sign. Nobody has the right to invalidate you because of who you are. What’s right is what’s right, no matter who is saying it. And I’d like to remind you: It was seven men—and no women—who made abortion legal nationwide.
It was right when Parker Pillsbury, co-editor of The Revolution alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton, forbade the use of advertising space in their newspaper for abortifacients, the most lucrative form of income for a periodical at the time. Rather than sell their souls to “child murder,” as they called it, the newspaper that Stanton and Susan B. Anthony cofounded went bankrupt after just four years. Pillsbury was an abolitionist, a suffragist, and a pro-life feminist.
As heirs of the abolitionist movement, the suffragists knew that there was no room for racism or sexism in their own movement. That is why, as Feminists for Life, we do not consider ourselves third or even fourth wave feminists but rather, the renaissance of first wave feminism. Ours is a holistic movement: We champion all of a woman’s needs, not just some. And we champion all people who wish to advocate for equality, no matter their sex, their race, their age, their sexual orientation, or the circumstances of their conception.
The exclusion of men from the abortion debate is as arbitrary as it is unjust. Men who stand for life do so not in spite of our sex, but because of our shared humanity.
Abortion affects the entire human family. The women in my life have shaped me into who I am today. Every man is his mother’s son, and I am no different. I have also been fortunate to be the brother to a sister and the uncle to a niece. I do not want to live in a world in which we tell our daughters—and sons—they can be anything they want to be when that is still not so.
I refuse to abstain from this debate because of who I am. For any of us to sit out the greatest civil rights movement of our generation is to concede the future to violence.
I refuse to surrender to death. I choose to win the victory for life.
Damian J. Geminder serves as Editor and Media Coordinator of WomenDeserveBetter.com. He holds a bachelor’s in communications from Adelphi University and a master’s in journalism from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book Damian to speak at your upcoming pro-life, pro-woman event.
What else is in Beyond the Schism?
- Introduction- Serrin M. Foster
- The Unseen Vote That Changed the World- Serrin M. Foster, with Sue Ellen Browder
- Where Were You When Roe Was Handed Down?- Tatiana Federoff
- Feminism’s Impact on the Workplace- Meagan Devlin
- Men in the Wake of the Second Wave- Eric Hollenbeck
- Why Men Can (and Should) Be Pro-Life Feminists- Damian J. Geminder
- The Making of a Pro-Life Feminist- Joyce McCauley-Benner
- What’s the Most Ridiculous Question You’ve Been Asked about Being Feminist?- Havens Clark
- What’s the Most Ridiculous Question You’ve Been Asked about Being Pro-Life?- Kathryn Baker
- Walking Our Talk- Emma Hackett
- Bad Medicine- Madeline Davin