When my son was a toddler, he spent an entire summer walking around with a caterpillar in each hand. Just about everything else he encountered was bigger and stronger than he, but caterpillars were small, soft, and helpless -- and, to his mind, desperately in need of his care. And so, with all the negligible strength of his two-year-old heart, mind, and strength, he took care of those caterpillars.
He's a teenager now, and he's taller than I am. His shoulders are broad, and he spends as much time as any teenage boy in figuring out just how strong he is -- how much weight he can carry, how far he can throw things, how easy it is for him to knock things over.
But he also spends a lot of time holding his baby sister, who is small, soft, and helpless. He gets teased, occasionally, about how much he loves babies, but my husband and I make it very clear that this, too, is a masculine trait, just as much as the urge to punch, heft, and brawl. In great men, two things go together: strength and control. Power, and the knowledge of how to use that power, and when, and why.
There's no merit in producing testosterone; but there is great merit, for the whole world, when men learn how to use it, and when they learn how to be in control of it, rather than letting it control them. Great men know when to hold their strength in check, and how to use it for the right things. Great men use their strength to protect.
This light went on for Ruben Navarrette, writing for The Daily Beast. In "I Don't Know If I'm Pro-Choice Anymore," He says that in the past, he chose to ally himself with the pro-choicers because pro-lifers seemed so violent and intolerant -- and also because he knew that, as a man, he'd never be in the position of deciding whether or not to get an abortion.
But, he says,
As I’ve only realized lately, to be a man, and to declare yourself pro-choice, is to proclaim your neutrality. And, as I’ve only recently been willing to admit, even to myself, that’s another name for “wimping out.”
Yes. Refusing to act, and refusing to take sides, is putting your natural strengths to waste. Navarrette says that his pro-life wife has been castigating him for wanting to remain neutral, especially in light of the videos from the Center for Medical Progress, which clearly show abortion cartel leaders using women and their unborn babies as commodities, to be manipulated into maximizing profit.
Navarette says his wife calls him "cowardly" for wanting to remain neutral in the fight over abortion.
“You can’t stand on the sidelines, especially now that you’ve seen these videos,” she told me recently. “That’s b******t! These are babies that are being killed. Millions of them. And you need to use your voice to protect them. That’s what a man does. He protects children—his own children, and other children. That’s what it means to be a man.”
I'm sure that the comment box is full of pro-choicers raging at him for wanting to control women's bodies -- and there's probably also a contingent of men who call themselves pro-life, who do nothing to aid women but to rage at them for killing their babies. This kind of pro-lifer is not the majority, but they do exist.
Navarrette was right to reject the kind of pro-lifers who set fires and throw bombs. Let me be very clear: there is nothing masculine about standing by while women abort, and there is also nothing masculine about attacking women who abort. Pro-abortion men and violent pro-lifers are both examples of failures of manhood. Abortion would not exist without both kinds of failure.
Abortion is your issue, men, because you are men. As I said in 2012,
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 . . .
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.
The first choices a man and woman can make come long, long before women faces the choice of whether to abort or not. For a man, it begins when you meet a woman, when you grow close to her, when you become so intimate that the two of you produce a third soul. The failure that is abortion begins long before the visit to the clinic. Abortion becomes common when men refuse to acknowledge that, in fathering children, they have already made a choice. They are already not neutral parties.
As this abortion nurse says in her Harper's essay "We Do Abortions Here"
Each abortion is a measure of our failure to protect, to nourish our own. Each basin I empty is a promise—but a promise broken a long time ago.
Great men are powerful -- and they show their strength when they show they are in control of that power. A great man holds the life-giving power of his body in check until the time is right -- and a great man uses his strength to protect the vulnerable, including pregnant women, post-abortive women, and all children, born and unborn. In great men, two things go together: strength and control. Power, and the knowledge of how to use that power, when, and why.
Women make the choice about abortion, but men make the world that women and children live in. Abortion is a men's issue.