Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Man in the clinic!"

Abortioneering is a fairly female-dominated field, and when I hear the classic "But what about the menz?!" whining about consent from the "father" or when I see a male partner trying to force a woman into or out of an abortion, I'm completely OK with not involving that sex in the Abortioneering process. But in the real world, I do work with a couple of men who are 100% feminists, champions of women, in favor of abortion access on demand, and who give no credence to the idea that men should have any say in what a woman does with her own body. It seems to come naturally to them and I've never heard any complaints from them, but I have to wonder about what elements of the job get to them because they aren't immune. And they're still a part of the world where patriarchy rules and men don't talk about feelings, especially about feelings of working in an abortion clinic where there are vaginas. And that's got to be difficult. I love my Abortioneer brethren like I do my sistren, and I want them to feel supported and appreciated.

So, I'm curious, Abortioneers: Are any of you of the male persuasion? Do you work with a token male or two? What have your experiences been?


  1. Very interesting. I'm a sterilization tech at a clinic in a medium-sized city. The only other male is the doctor. I've worked in all-female (and all-male) environments before. The clinic is actually among the very best places I've been as far as being positive and supportive (and COOL) basically to everyone. My personal life involves some "radical" feminism, so it is not a strange thing to me at all to work with these awesome radical women at my clinic. (PS Down with patriarchy!) The impression/vibe/feeling I get from most of the patients is curiosity because they generally have no idea why I'm there. (I once overheard a woman in the waiting room ask, "who's that fool?" and it made me chuckle to myself.) I also get the impression that most patients are stressed out (understandably). I show the fetal tissue to the patients who elect to view it and the majority exhibit (often complex) expressions of curiosity and relief. I feel protective over that environment and would defend the ability of science to provide medical control of reproduction for all women. I'm a pretty resilient guy, so there isn't really much that gets to me, even the wacko anti- creeps who sometimes shuffle around outside the building.

    As far as the male partners of patients who may influence them one way or another, it is hard for me to tell which ones are doing that. (Male privilege? -I don't know.) I know SOME are being supportive, of course, but there is certainly a residual cultural implication of male "ownership" of fetal tissue (at least in the media). My view is that a hetero male must implicitly support female hegemony over her body if he is allowed sexual access. Pretty simple, right?

    Also: don't fall for that whole "why can't a man give consent or be informed of his partner's abortion?" bullshit. It's a red-herring argument. The answer is that he has no 9-month-plus physical/bodily investment in creating life...duh. Or: "Why must a married wife provide consent to a male sterilization procedure?" It's because legally married partners have a right to know about a spouse's potential to reproduce while women must be protected from being used for sex when they WANT to reproduce! ...duh

    I figure I'm preaching to the choir here, but maybe you can use my angle for Good?

  2. I've never worked with male staff, only male doctors. Some of them have been great, some not so much. I used to think patients would feel most comfortable with female staff and female doctors - perhaps due to the male owner/medical director of the clinic I used to work at, who is not exactly a feminist to put it lightly - but the male doctor I now work with primarily is fantastic. Easily the best doctor I've ever worked with in terms of how he puts patients at ease and makes the experience as comfortable as possible for them. I guess I still feel like patients are more likely to feel comfortable with women, but - like most things - that's something that's far more individual than you can ever generalize.


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