When I heard the news last week about the law that passed in Texas, I said to myself “That’s wrong and I wish that law didn’t pass.” I then went on with the rest of my day without giving it much more thought. In other words, it really didn’t affect my day because it doesn’t affect me. But I slowly became more bothered that a group of mostly white men made a decision that will affect an enormous number of women in Texas, and you can bet that other states are keeping a very close eye and will most likely do the same.
I recently realized something so unbelievable obvious – women don’t get women pregnant. Men do. And we are let off the hook and then we tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies. This does not make sense to me. I know this issue is layered and highly charged, but men are tuning out a problem that they play a big role in creating.
After getting more time to understand this bill and its ramifications, I know I need to speak out. As a man with a wife and three daughters, it is a human rights issue – with a blatant disregard for who it actually harms while pushing away research that may actually make a difference.
I speak up about this issue with some apprehension because I know my opinion will align with some men, yet others may be opposed to what I say, which is their right. I’m not here to call men out, rather I will steal a line from Tony Porter, one of my favorite teachers from A Call To Men . It’s time to call men in. I want to call men into discussing what’s happening in Texas, and other issues on gender equity that we have been less willing to discuss.
When George Floyd was murdered in May 2020, our organization quickly shifted our offerings and programming (both virtual and in-person) to invite conversations on racial equity. This Texas law is an invitation for men to come together and lean into a discussion that is impacting an entire state of women. Right now, clinics have ceased providing abortions for women if they are past six weeks pregnant, well before most women know they are pregnant. This six-week rule still applies if the pregnancy was a result of incest or rape. When the Governor of Texas was asked today why he would place this limitation on victims of rape, he said he plans to “eliminate all rapists from the streets”, demonstrating a deep lack of understanding about rape, the criminal justice system, and just reality overall. On the very same day, Mexico’s Supreme Court decided to decriminalize abortion, meaning that Texas now has more restrictive laws than the 2nd most Catholic country in the world.
So, I am challenging myself to:
- Learn more about the impact of this law
- Engage in conversations with the women in my life and see the world from their perspective
- Have conversations with other men about gender equality
- Follow other male thought leaders such as Jackson Katz and Tony Porter who believe in a healthy masculinity that aligns with my values.
As Executive Director, I invite other men to do the same. I will continue to share what I know and believe and leave space in the conversation for those who think differently. I am committed to being both vocal and curious.
Over the last seven years, most of MenLiving’s programming has been focused on personal growth work, including creating the space for authentic and vulnerable connection so men could be the best fathers/husbands/partners/sons they could be. We will continue to do this, and I also hope we continue to evolve our organization and fulfill our vision of living in a more harmonious world by deepening connections amongst men. That world includes women, all genders, and all racial groups. As men we start by understanding ourselves so we can better understand others, and that is the path to what we hope to create – a harmonious path for all.
Nice. Exactly. Thank you for being an ally. We need men to challenge men. That’s supportive. Women are tired of being the only ones speaking out against this type of control and corruption.
I completely disagree with you on all these issues. I feel this group should not be endorsing a one sided political, religious, or moral view point on abortion and women’s rights in a men’s group.
Secondly, the end of your blog you state all women, all genders, and racial groups. There are only two genders. Male and female. You cannot change the chromosomal make up of an individual.
Giving a complete far left political, religious and moral view point on any topic is completely offensive and unbecoming of a group who would call themselves professional or trying to help people. If you want neutrality, this surely isn’t a written, nor zoom meeting view of it.
If you don’t like Texas legislation, please, by all means- STAY IN YOUR OWN LITTLE STATE and vote for your candidate of choice! We are a RED state, very much a conservative political, conservative Biblical religious, and certainly with that take morals seriously.
I think as a men’s group, we should stay on MENS topics to improve Ourselves. We cannot change other people.
Thank you for your response, and I do hear your perspective that this group should not be endorsing one side of an issue. Our hope was that each man would be able to convey their viewpoint in the breakout rooms. We are grateful that the points raised in the breakout rooms have remained cordial and respectful, so it makes it easier to continue these type of debates/discussions.
I do see reproductive rights as a men’s topic, because men are obviously involved in creating this challenge. Not only are men involved, men seem to be making all the decisions around this issue and women’s lives are the ones being impacted in every way imaginable. I agree that we cannot change other people, but we can share our stories. The more we hear and understand others, the more educated we become about life differences/challenges that are different than ours. Staying open to these experiences is how we grow and change, it’s how we continue to evolve and become the best father/husband/partner/son brother that we can be.
MenLiving has been meeting for over seven years, and for the most part, we have focused on personal growth and have stayed away from anything that may be controversial. I think staying away might be keeping us stuck in our corners rather than actually talking through these issues with as much humility and openness as we can. This feels more like a path forward – a way for us to disagree, but also find more similarities than differences. At least that’s what I hope to find. I hope to use my influence to create programming that challenges men to get curious and have difficult conversations, especially around issues like social justice. We will also continue with our “regularly scheduled programming” of personal growth as well. I am so glad that you are a part of this group, and I would love to keep this discussion, and future discussions, open. I hear that you feel that we didn’t do well including your perspective this time – next time I hope we do better. Thanks again for being willing to show up and speak up, and I do hope we can continue to get to know each other – I bet we are more similar than different.
Thank you for your leadership in getting us to have challenging conversations about topics that move people to strong emotions. I often wonder if the reason we get so emotional about topics like abortion is because we really care about life and choices, or because we have a need to be “right” or control others thinking. I fear this type of behavior is leading us towards dark times… But im optimistic that your group can be a light in those dark times. Be well brother.
Thanks Andre 🙂
It is apparent that there are those in here that do not believe in absolute truth, or if they do, it is a very liberal view point of it.
Because my emotions are not about trying to have control, I’m not the leader, moderator, nor founder of this group.
As I stated, this topic has several aspects to it. One is my religious view point that is completely pro-life. ????%
If anyone wants to scrutinize my beliefs, my political stance- which includes my state, and my morals come on. I’m ????% ready to tell you exactly where I stand.
But I still wholeheartedly feel this is not a men’s group topic.
If you want to discuss not getting girls pregnant so they don’t consider an abortion- that’s a men’s group discussion.
With that, this is my LAST post on this topic. I’m not attending Wednesday night. I understand it’s more of the same. No sense in getting ticked off
Todd, I simply don’t see how commenting on a topic like this in Texas is going to improve communications between men or foster harmonious connections for men. I’m a father of daughters as well and agree neither on the position that you’re taking nor on the relevance of abortion law in Texas for a small Midwest-based men’s group.
We’re living in a world of contradictions, and in a nation where the acuteness of these contradictions for many has started to increase exponentially. We elected a President who on the campaign trail didn’t support vaccination mandates, and who now is a strong proponent. For many years, pro-choice Americans have supported an argument of “my body, my choice,” and now suddenly that argument doesn’t seem to have relevance on the topic of mandated vaccinations. We have a mainstream media that brings us appalling stories of forced organ harvesting among other human rights atrocities in China, but then is completely silent about widespread American university research being done with organs of aborted American fetuses.
Many Texans recently see their values, personal safety and very way of life recently under attack by the federal government. For many it’s perceived as an assault on the Red by the Blue because Texas values are not perfectly aligned with the latest values of the broader country. They see the federal government as trying to “cancel” them. Borders are suddenly being thrown open, and constitutional rights are perceived to be under attack by a federal government that is short on “patience.” Recent legislation to ban abortions in Texas should at this time be viewed more as a push back against against federal intervention by an individual state than as a national assault on women. Abortion laws in Texas will be challenged legally in the courts before all is said and done, and we should save judgments for that time.
If I’ve misinterpreted your intention, I’d like to understand how your post should have brought us more together or improved harmony between men. Are we in Men Living aiming to become a large national or global organization like Mankind Project or are discussions and focus better served on topics of regional interest?
I feel that when I stop listening to a viewpoint that’s different than mine, the figurative distance between me and that other person grows. Having a respectful, considerate, curious-centric discussion around any topic allows me to see the humanity in a person far more easily than any alternative. I don’t believe it’s a regional thing, or a national thing, it’s a global thing to me. Here’s how I feel and here’s why. Here’s how my experiences and influences inform that position. How do you feel about it? Why? What experiences have you had that influence yours?
Differing viewpoints doesn’t preclude me from interacting with, being friends with, and learning from other men in this group. The more I surround myself with people who only share my viewpoint is when I begin to narrow my world to one where I don’t have to see your humanity, I can immediately reject you, your viewpoints, and anything and everything else about you because YOU aren’t aligned with ME. That doesn’t feel right to me.
I’m going to choose to try and understand someone’s viewpoint that’s different than mine. Is their viewpoint/opinion/stance wrong? Nope. It’s different than mine and I may not agree, but it’s not wrong. Is this practice always easy for me? Not at all, I am human. But I can keep showing up and keep trying to see each man in this group (and beyond) first as men with whom I’m sharing a world that isn’t always easy to figure out and second as a man whose position and views are as equal and valid as mine. Hopefully my practice allows me to exist in a slightly more harmonious way than the alternative..
When I first read Mr. Adam’s essay, I was offended, but wasn’t sure why. I’m more pro choice than not. I live in Texas but am not a Texan, and I don’t really want to be a stereotypical Texan. I think my concerns fell in three areas:
1) It was so overwhelmingly one sided that it read like a news article in a left-leaning paper, and left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It also said to me that any man that didn’t rush to the support of the women in Texas was not a man. A claim I seriously disagree with.
2) The factual errors pointed out the flaws in most US conversations. Many times we hear things from people on “our side” and take them as facts when we make our opinions. I’ve been guilty of the same. Unfortunately, we even double down with purple terms like “blatant disregard,” that flatly reject the other sides’ right to have a differing opinion. An example from this discussion where the news (I believe purposely) gets it wrong, is the Texas state legislature in not, in fact, “mostly white males.” True it has more white males by percentage than the demographics of the state, but there is not a majority of white males in the legislature. Even the demographics stated by the press tend to greatly underrepresent the White demographic to “prove” how underrepresented the remainder are in the legislature (a recent article in the Texas Tribune stated that ‘white Texans’ made up 41% of the population, while the 2020 census calculated 78.7%).
3) While I only have my experiential and anecdotal evidence, the majority of the people I know who are Pro-life living around me are women. Women in Texas are split right down the middle. About half are conservative and half are liberal. Why are we trying to dismiss the opinions of half the women in Texas?
All that said, I’d like to thank Todd for writing the essay, and give him my respect for doing so. You made me think about and clarify what I believe, while helping me better understand your beliefs. I am just starting to look at this organization, but I’m going to join the Men Living today and hope to have many more open and honest discussions.
I appreciate your comments. It helps me look at how I show up and the impact of what I put out there. First of all- guilty as charged, I am a left-leaning on most issues and in the past I have chosen not to use my voice because I was worried of upsetting people. I find myself in the position of speaking my own truth and my intention is to do it with respect and create space for people who see things differently. Am I perfect at this? Absolutely not and my words you mentioned such as “blatant disregard” may not have been the best choice, but I was giving my passionate opinion on this very complicated issue.
One of my hopes of writing this article was invite men to think about an issue that I judge most (including me) don’t think about enough. I led a meeting last week of ten men and brought up this issue about Texas and asked how many of them had a conversation with a woman about this issue or one that might be related and two of the men raised their hands. I also have experienced men who don’t even know where they stand on these issues and haven’t given it much thought. I encourage us all to give these issues more thought regardless of position.
At MenLiving we are hoping to encourage multiple perspectives in many different issues and hope to be able to disagree without “othering” someone else. I certainly don’t do it perfectly, but will continue to do my best to work on myself in this regard. Thanks again for chiming in and getting your voice heard.