Bro-Choice is Feminism for Bros Too Cool for Feminism

It really seems like putting “bro” in front of everything is the new, cool thing to do, doesn’t it? And by new and cool, I of course mean “totally obnoxious.” Now imagine someone taking the term “pro-choice,” adding a Keystone Light and a backwards baseball cap, and you have Bro-Choice.

Bro-Choice is a campaign by Choice USA, an otherwise levelheaded advocacy group focusing on reproductive rights. They’ve come up with the wonderful idea of adding plaid shorts and buffalo wings to the fight for abortion care, birth control access, and other reproductive health issues to make it more dood-friendly. They’re actually doing this by hosting the Bro-Choice Week of Visibility, because men (and bros in particular) are such a marginalized and invisible group in society. I mean, even if they wanted to, there really isn’t a way for them to stand up for reproductive rights without being called bitches and whores and sluts and being threatened with rape, right? I fully expect the Week of Visibility to end with the participating bros being rewarded with plates full of cookies and lots of sex from hot chicks.

In all seriousness, the Bro-Choice Week of Visibility is problematic. The desire to mobilize men, who would be a valuable voice in the fight for reproductive rights if more of them would actually speak up and stand out without wanting the aforementioned cookies and sex, is a valid one. The feminist movement could certainly use male voices in this fight. Feminists have long said that men who educate other men about feminist issues are invaluable to feminist goals, and there truly is no better way to be an ally. But that’s not what Bro-Choice is about. Bro-Choice is about masculinizing a little ladygirl movement like reproductive rights and making it more palatable to manly men, and that is problematic.

What Bro-Choice week does is creates a division. It pits male against female, and we all know who’s historically won that race. Bro-Choice says that men can’t join women – they must instead be apart. Bros have to have their own world, their own little club where they get to rule. Is that the issue here? Is it that women traditionally rule feminist spaces?

Bro-Choice has the potential to set up a hierarchy and prioritize men over women. It has the potential to put what men say women need ahead of what women say women need, just like medical professionals have been doing for centuries when it comes to women’s bodies.

It’s all the more puzzling when we consider that Choice USA, a pro-choice advocacy group, is behind the entire campaign. The board of Choice USA is made up entirely of women. The campaign has good intentions, but good intentions aren’t enough sometimes.

We own this movement. These are our bodies, our lives. This is our struggle. We welcome others to it to fight along with us, but not in front of us. We welcome them to stand next to us and battle theocratic anti-choice legislation and champion women’s rights, but we want them standing next to us, not on the platform above us. We own our bodies like we own our movements, and changes will be on our terms.


By Elfity

Elfity, so named for her tendency to be a bit uppity and her elf-like appearance, is a graduate student and professional Scary Feminist of Rage. She has a propensity for social justice, cheese, and Doctor Who. Favorite activities include making strange noises, napping with puppies and/or kitties, and engaging in political and philosophical debates.

2 replies on “Bro-Choice is Feminism for Bros Too Cool for Feminism”

I’m on two sides about this. I think it’s good that men are gathering for this, although I’m side-eyeing the pro-choice back up. It’s probably way easier to join up with follow men than be the only dude between dudettes.

On the other hand ..this is a dudette subject. If you want to support, be around the people you’re supporting. If I as a white woman would say “Oh I’m here for the ASIANS” while never getting any contact with them, people would laugh and point. But when it’s gender it’s suddenly so magnificent.

I disagree that a pro-choice activism aimed at men is in and of itself a bad thing. We do need men to be involved; reproductive rights affects them too (in admittedly smaller ways, like the almost-total lack of choice in contraception) and it sure as hell affects the women in their lives. This is even more apparent when you look at rape culture,which is a topic that’s front-and-centre on the website and blog.

You assert that ‘bro-choice week “creates a division” and “creates their own little club”: you haven’t demonstrated that with any evidence from the campaign or quotes from the people involved. Their blog is full of post by and links to articles by and for women; we are not invisible there:

This is a marketing tactic. #1 rule of marketing is if your audience is everyone, your audience is no-one.

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