Why Young Men Who Support Reproductive Justice Need to Get Out and Vote

Will men defy the polls and pundits, and vote as an act of solidarity with the women they love, respect and support?

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Supporters of abortion rights rally at the Minnesota Capitol building in St. Paul, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, on June 25, 2022. (Michael Siluk / UCG / Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

This is for the men—of all ethnic, racial and religious identities—who say they support women’s rights and reproductive justice, and nod in agreement when women say “my body, my choice.”

This is not for the men who—based on whatever reasons of religious or secular morality—believe the state should use its coercive power to force women and girls to give birth against their will.

This is for the men who say it’s not right that politicians insert themselves into the most intimate decisions that should be left to a woman, her loved ones and her doctor.

This is for the men who were raised by mothers who faced the fear of having an unintended pregnancy before Roe v. Wade, and who vowed that their children and grandchildren would never be subjected to that dangerous and traumatic experience.

This is for the fathers who vowed that that they would fight for the right of their daughters to be treated with full dignity and respect.

This is for the men who had sex with their girlfriend, wife or partner and knew that if they were unlucky, or careless, or if contraception failed, termination of the pregnancy was at least available as a safe, legal option. 

This is for the men whom the feminist Liz Plank, author of For the Love of Men, calls “pro-choice softboys.” These are men who “collect the social currency and sexual access” that presenting as progressive gives them with women, but do nothing to earn it. Worse, “they’re actually enjoying the reproductive rights that the women they sleep with have risked fighting for.”

This is for the men who have worried, along with their partner, about a late menstrual period and dreaded learning the results of the home pregnancy test.

This is for the men who have accompanied their significant other to a health clinic for an abortion procedure.

This is for the men who write checks to Planned Parenthood.

There are many elements of societal progress at stake in the upcoming election: crucial issues such as the climate crisis, healthcare, Social Security, racial justice and voting rights, not to mention the very stability and survival of democracy itself.

But this is also the first election since the U.S. Supreme Court in its infamous Dobbs decision stripped away constitutional protection for women and others with the capacity to become pregnant to make the deeply personal choice to terminate a pregnancy.

This is for the men who are deciding whether or not they’re going to vote in this midterm election, when turnout—especially among young people—is usually low.

Will you go out and vote as an act of solidarity with the women you love and have always claimed to respect and support?

Will you defy the polls and pundits which say that men—especially young men—don’t consider abortion rights a major motivating factor in their choice of who to vote for, or even whether or not to vote?

Will you validate the perception among many young women that they can’t count on you when the pressure is on and their fundamental rights are on the line?

Or will you rise to the occasion?

As women from Tehran to Texas continue to fight fearlessly for basic respect and human rights, men have a choice to make: Do you stand with those women? Or do you sit this one out?

A new poll of 18- to 29-year-olds by the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School found a significant gender gap in the most important issue driving their midterm vote. For young men, inflation was the main issue; for young women, it was abortion rights.

And a recent Ms. magazine poll of nine battleground states showed that among 18-29-year-old likely voters, 55 percent of women ranked abortion/women’s rights their top priority, compared to only 18 percent of men. 

The stakes in this election are high. But if enough people come out to defend abortion rights and many other basic features of a 21st century democratic society, we can continue on a path forward—however slow and plodding—toward a more perfect union.

Which side of history do you want to be on? The one that seeks to advance gender justice and expand democracy, or the one that seeks to restore the oppressive, tired old order? At some point, there will be a reckoning.

This is for the men who want to get this right and get to the polls.

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U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.

About

Jackson Katz, Ph.D., is internationally renowned for his pioneering scholarship and activism on issues of gender, race and violence. Katz has long been a major figure and thought leader in the growing global movement of men working to promote gender equality and prevent gender violence. He is co-founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP), one of the longest-running and most widely influential gender violence prevention programs in North America and beyond. He is the author of two acclaimed books and creator of the award-winning Tough Guise educational documentary series. He is also the creator of The Man Card: White Male Identity Politics from Nixon to Trump (2020). His TEDx talk, "Violence Against Women Is a Men's Issue," has over 5 million total views.