Bro-Choice

The problem with the Bro-Choice campaign

Bro-Choice

Choice USA has announced its first Bro-Choice Week of Visibility, a campaign to engage men in the fight against rape culture and for reproductive justice. The organization writes:

One year ago we hosted our first Bro-Choice panel to talk about ways young men can become authentically involved in reproductive justice. With the response to that panel, we knew this was only the beginning of the conversation.

The Bro-Choice campaign continues to be a place to lift up the work that young men are already doing for reproductive justice, but over the past year this campaign has evolved to include much needed conversations on rape culture and sexual assault prevention.

So we are excited to launch the first-ever Bro-Choice Week of Visibility as a part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month! We’ll be spending the next week engaging in a dialogue about rape culture, masculinity, and how men can be more vocal as stakeholders in the fight against sexual assault.

Choice USA offers some concrete ways men can learn more about sexual violence, including a blog series and a webinar scheduled for next Tuesday. I’m enthusiastic about working with allied men to stop assault, and so I want to be 100% behind this campaign.

I have to admit, though, that something about this doesn’t sit right with me. I understand Choice USA’s motives, but attempting to “masculinize” a feminist effort so dudes can feel comfortable condescends to the targeted men (who I’d imagine will join up because of their convictions, rather than a transparent gimmick and a “p” switched out for a “b”) while simultaneously prioritizing them. The clear message is that guys can’t be part of a generally woman-led movement, and we need to cater to their need to feel manly. And, as we know from working with fantastic activists of all genders, that just isn’t true. 

This well-meaning strategy assumes a clear gender binary–in which male- and female-identified activists need separate little cubbies to feel adequately differentiated–that reinforces the same essentialism that underpins rape culture and reproductive injustice. As Maya said of Choice USA’s targeted audience, “Why can’t they just be pro-choice?”

In addition to these larger problems, I’m also just skeptical that this framing will resonate with young men. What do you all think?

New Haven, CT

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX, a national legal education campaign against campus gender-based violence. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NPR. Through Know Your IX, she has organized with students across the country to build campuses free from discrimination and violence, developed federal policy on Title IX enforcement, and has testified at the Senate. At Yale Law, Alexandra focuses on antidiscrimination law and is a member of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Alexandra is committed to developing and strengthening responses to gender-based violence outside the criminal justice system through writing, organizing, and the law. Keep an eye out for The Feminist Utopia Project, co-edited by Alexandra and forthcoming from the Feminist Press (2015).

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

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