My journey as an ally and inclusionary leader is an ongoing one. I find myself on the precipice of a landmark court case, Roe vs. Wade, being overturned and what that means to me as a man. Wait a minute!!! It’s not my body; it’s not my choice. However, I can make a choice to use my voice as a male leader with position, power and platform to speak to this issue in the context of healthy masculinity and allyship.
Ultimately, this issue is for women to decide and I encourage you to reach out to the women in your life and ask how this is impacting THEM. Our role is to be allies and to support others in the way THEY ask us to support them.
I recognize that many of you have religious beliefs that complicate your relationship to this issue. To that, I would first reiterate that it is not a men’s issue. Having been raised Catholic, I remain a Christian, but am certainly not aligned with the Catholic doctrine as it pertains to abortion rights, homosexuality, and other important topics that affect human beings. I am willing to sit in that tension. I am also married to a Catholic woman and I have a daughter and she, perhaps due to reasons like the aforementioned, does not identify with any church. Why do I share all of this with you? I do so because I am an advocate for pro-choice and yet, my background and spirituality might indicate otherwise. Why? Again, it is not my body, it is not my choice.
The Journey to Allyship is a journey of the heart and it requires each of us to understand the lived experiences of others so that we can support individuals from historically marginalized groups. As a white, cis-gendered male ‘Ally in Training,’ it is my intention to listen from the heart as opposed to listening from the head (binary listening). The topic of abortion can easily be categorized as a binary (right/wrong) issue. Depending on which side you find yourself on, the temptation to invalidate, make wrong, defend, justify, accuse, and more is very real. Allies listen from the heart, they seek to understand, they don’t attempt to make decisions on behalf of others and instead ask others how they can best be of service.
If you are a man reading this, consider for a moment an alternative scenario that would have your ability to procreate squarely in question. Imagine if it was REQUIRED that you had a vasectomy until you were deemed financially and emotionally fit to be a father, at which point the surgery could be reversed. Or, what if you asked for a vasectomy and were denied? I recognize that these are extreme examples that may not resonate with you, or might make you feel quite uncomfortable. Though if you are uncomfortable, remember that your body is not the one in question. Part of our responsibility as allies is to empathize with the experiences of others and to LISTEN to THEM as they guide us toward the best way we can help.
Written by Ray Arata, May 2022