by Shaker BrianWS, who may or may not become a full-time contributor someday based on a swirling purple vortex of glittery keys only one of which fits into two crumbling locks, one of which opens a door to Shakesville, and the other of which opens a door to a rip in the time-space continuum beyond which is either a parallel universe or a Malkovichian hole into Rick Santorum's brainpan.
[Content Note: Anti-choice views on reproductive rights; disrespect for autonomy and consent.]
I will never need an abortion. It's a fact of my life as a cis gay man in a relationship with another cis gay man, but being fervently pro-choice is very important to me, and it's also very important to me that I found a partner who shares that belief.
I'm pro-choice not only for the women in my life who have had abortions or who one day may need to terminate a pregnancy, but because I've found that a person's view on abortion rights is a really great test to determine how someone feels about bodily autonomy as a whole—and, to that end, what kind of autonomy over my own body I can expect when dealing with that person.
When I was single last summer before meeting my current boyfriend, I had a profile on OkCupid, and one day received a message from a guy who quickly identified himself as a conservative supporter of Ron Paul.
I don't like Ron Paul one bit, so I was hesitant but curious. Knowing what I know now, I have no problem saying that if that happened to me today, there never would've been drinks or dinner or anything. But it didn't happen today.
We often hear, even from people presumed to be liberal allies, about how "both sides are just as bad," and we're trained by the media to think that every opinion is equally worth being heard, and even this progressive feminist was not immune to having internalized those messages.
"If I don't go out with him just because of his politics, then I'd be an asshole," I thought, and I decided to go out and meet him.
I figured that we could have a good time just hanging out and letting it be casual regardless of political affiliation. That worked for a few dates. We didn't much discuss politics, including abortion, although I knew his position, and I found myself actually enjoying his company.
"I'm the next James Carville!" I excitedly told myself, feeling a slight, and now embarrassing, sense of smugness for having been "big enough" to enjoy his company without agreeing with his political views. In doing so, however, I was hiding a huge part of who I am, and a huge part of what I believe to be true and important in this world, just to be able to say I managed to navigate that political divide.
We did that dance for about a month, sharing drinks, movies, dinners, and games about every other day, all while both trying our best to ignore the giant whirring abortion machine in the room.
That's when the wheels came flying off. We were invited to a Pride party at his ex's apartment overlooking the parade route, and we were excited to go to that together. There were plenty of drinks, plenty of amazing new friends to meet, and I was having a great day. We were both worried initially that his ex might be weird about me being there, but it turned out that his ex and I hit it off immediately.
He and I were, in fact, on the back deck, chatting, laughing, and generally having a great day, when another one of the party's hosts came up to me and said, "You might want to go talk to your date; he's really upset right now."
"Why?!" I asked. It was a great day with great company, and nothing seemed like it could go wrong. I went to look for him, to find that he had angrily stormed out of the party. I texted him to find out what was wrong, and it was then that his adherence to a strict conservative ideology became the problem that, deep inside, I always knew it was going to be someday, sooner than later.
He was angry that I was socializing with his ex, and told me that I had humiliated him by being friendly with his ex. Naturally, this made no sense to me—after all, we had accepted an invitation to a party at his ex's house, and learned that our earlier worries about it being uncomfortable were completely unfounded. So unfounded, in fact, that his ex and I were able to act like adults who had never met one another, treat each other with respect, and find out that we actually had a lot in common and enjoyed talking to one another.
The only one who found the situation uncomfortable was the guy I was seeing—the guy who had put us into this position in the first place. I felt a ton of pressure going over to his ex's house that day; it's not easy to be the "new guy" in a tight-knit group of friends when an ex is included. The fact that it wasn't the weirdest day my date and I had ever spent together should have been a huge victory.
Instead, it turned ugly.
He had wanted me to go to this party with him at a place that could have been very uncomfortable for me, and I had made the best of it. He didn't want me to make the best of it for me, though—he wanted me to make the best of it for him. And I had failed to behave as he had desired for me to behave.
As the night wore on, he continued to berate me via text messages and phone calls. He policed my behavior in exacting detail, slut-shamed me for being friendly with his ex, belligerently screamed at me, plainly and simply commanding me to be something more like what he wanted, rather than who I actually am, and to make the choices he wanted me to make, rather than the choices that were right for me.
So clueless, he then demanded that I spend the night at his apartment. I felt afraid, and I felt unsafe. I left and never saw him again.
In the end, it should have come as little surprise to me that he would show his hand like that at some point. But it wasn't until he actually tried to claim what he thought was his right to control my body and my actions that I actually let it all sink in.
And when it was done sinking in, I was left with this: Fuck. That.
Sure, this could have been the jerk behavior of anyone with any political ideology, but I am left with the thought that true belief in rigid conservative anti-choice ideology presents a fundamental problem for those desirous of an egalitarian relationship. The anti-choice position is rooted in a desire to control women's bodies, restrict their ability to act as individuals, and to police their behavior. If my date thinks that control over a woman's body is his right, what guarantee do I have that he would ever think any differently about MY body?
There's an undeniable connection between views on abortion rights and views on bodily autonomy as a whole, and that's why gay men need to care about abortion rights. The same people who will work tirelessly to restrict women's autonomy over their own bodies and choices won't hesitate for a moment to tear mine away, too.
The only body that an anti-choice conservative thinks shouldn't be controlled is his (or her) own.
Being pro-choice means respecting the autonomy of women and other people with uteri over their own bodies, full-stop. There is no halfway. There are no, "...but" qualifiers. You either do—or you don't.
It's not about babies, or whatever other bullshit anti-choicers say to try to pretend that it's about anything other than controlling and policing women's bodies—experience tells me that assholes with rigid anti-choice ideologies based around controlling other people's bodies aren't likely to ever consider exceptions to that rule for me and my body just because I don't have a uterus.