I like Sarah Silverman’s political videos as much as the next girl—the Great Schlep, in which she encouraged young Jews to turn out their Florida-retiree grandparents to vote for then-Sen. Barack Obama for president is inspired—but I actually think that, while the idea of enlisting men to support reproductive rights is a great impulse, this doesn’t quite hit the mark:
“Does your fight have to be yours to take it on?” she asks. But simple solidarity is actually aiming a little low in this case. Women may be the people who get pregnant, and who are subject to transvaginal ultrasounds, but men are affected by our access to contraception, too. Before Obamacare covered contraception fully, it was a household expense, and one that in some cases, could be a real strain. If neither half of a couple want to get pregnant, an unexpected pregnancy, it may be a woman who has to go through an abortion or pregnancy, but the decision-making process and resulting strain and expenses affect both parties, and it’s in both of their interests to avoid getting to that point.
There’s a balance, here, of course, between getting men invested in women’s reproductive rights and health issues, and making it clear that men and women are affected in profoundly different ways by access to medical contraceptives, prenatal care, abortion and adoption services, or by being subject to transvaginal ultrasounds or required viewings of ultrasounds. But being affected differently, and respecting women’s agency, isn’t the same thing as not being affected at all. That’s a difficult needle to thread, particularly in a political comedy video. But it’s a distinction that’s worth trying to make when we talk about men’s support for reproductive rights.