State Rep. Babette Joesephs says that female legislators who support pre-abortion ultrasound laws must be “men with breasts,” and not actually women. She said it twice during a rally organized to protest the bill: “I don’t understand it … I don’t believe they’re really women. … I believe they’re men with breasts.”
Pro-life news outlets are rightly responding with disgust, calling her remarks misogynistic; and so they are. The representative’s crass phrase, “men with breasts,” shows a level of contempt for women which is hard to countenance. In her view, woman are made of two things: breasts, and the freedom to kill.
But the thing that strikes me about her remarks is how anti-man they are—not just anti-pro-life-man, but anti-men-in-general. Calling your opponent “men with breasts” implies that all men are, by definition, the enemy. It’s like saying “the devil in disguise” or “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” It assumes that the worst thing you can say about a woman is that she’s like a man.
Every once in a while, I do come across an anti-abortion man who is a true oppressor—who thinks that women are silly, uppity creatures who must be controlled, shamed, reminded daily of her own constitutional weakness and treachery. It happens so infrequently, though, that my first response is always to laugh. Who are these guys? What the heck do they see when they look into the mirror? Very often, their personalities and beliefs are so repellent that they’re single anyway, so their theories on how to control women remain in the theoretical realm.
And how often have I met pro-life men who respect women, who care about their health, safety, and happiness, and listen to them, and are willing to be corrected if they’re mistaken when it comes to matters like pregnancy, childbirth, and female sexuality? Oh, eleven billion times. This number includes priests, married men, old men, traditionalists, up-and-comers, zealots, lukewarm nice guys, and so on. Pro-life is pro-woman.
Now, there have been many, many times when I have met with an impregnable wall of contempt and condescension from men—from pro-choice men. When men have fully swallowed the story that they have no right to an opinion about any “women’s issues,” they are invariably breathtakingly rude and condescending toward pro-life women. They actually do what feminists insist that pro-life men do: they tell us what we really want, they tell us what’s good for us, they tell us to shut up and let the big boys do the heavy lifting.
And I can imagine why they are so harsh and bitter: they’ve been told for their entire lives that they are the enemy, they are nothing, they have nothing to say, and that every move they make harms women. They are only applauded by the cognoscenti when they take over things that used to be women’s jobs, and never when they’re brave or strong, never when they sacrifice themselves.
So when they come face to face with a woman who does not see herself as a victim of biological injustice, who is smart, capable, fulfilled, and happy, it must sting like a sonofagun. After all those years of hearing that women want them to stop being men, it must hurt where it counts when they discover that that was a lie—that there is a whole population of women who still value men for who they are, and not just as breastless, inherently guilty, malleable pseudo-women.
I often think of one of the final scenes in The Mummy Returns, where the hero and the villain are both dangling over a molten pit of some kind of deadly, otherworldly, condemned-soul-lava. The wife of the hero sees her husband’s distress, and without hesitation darts out between falling boulders and burning stalactites as they hurtle down from the roof. She pulls him out and the two struggle away to safety.
The villain then calls to his beloved—the one who cost him his life and whom he’s worked for millennia to be reunited with. She looks at him, looks at the peril she faces, and cries, “No. . . no!” and dashes away, to save herself. It takes the villain only a moment to realize that he has lost her—that she never really loved him, even after he gave her everything she wanted. And with a look of hellish calm, he does the only thing left to him: he lets himself go, falling backwards into the abyss.
Listen, men. You don’t have to be “pro-choice” to be appealing to women. You may have been told that that’s what women want, but let me tell you: be a good man, be a real man, and there are real women who will run across that burning room to be with you. The feminists are right when they say that women don’t want to be told what to do. Women don’t want to be treated like children or idiots. Unless there’s something wrong with them, they don’t want to be lectured or shamed or pushed around. But they do want to know that there is someone on their side, someone who will fight for them, someone who will make it safe for them to give themselves away.
Supporting a woman’s right to choose is not the act of a real man. It’s the act of a castrato, a disemboweled mummy of a man who has nothing to live for but to serve the snakelike and the faithless. Women don’t want someone who’s so supportive, he’ll go halvsies on the abortion bill. They want someone who will make such a good life with you that choosing death is the last thing on anyone’s mind. They want someone who is worth yanking out of that pit—someone you’d never even consider running from.
You know what? Sometimes life is that burning room. Sometimes a sexual relationship is full of falling boulders and burning peril. If you’ve been the man you ought to be, then the woman you love will come across it after you. Love makes us strong enough to yank each other out of the pit. Be strong, men. That is what women want.