“You think I’m a baby killer, I think you’re a misogynist” isn’t exactly a strong foundation for a relationship.
In our Dealbreakers series, exes report on the habit, belief, or boxer brief that ended the affair.
“I’m pretty attracted to you,” I told my friend Jack not long ago.
“And I think you’re pretty cute, too,” he replied.
Jack is smart, funny, good looking, talented, thoughtful, and well traveled. He’s into social justice. He takes great photographs, speaks several languages and plays the hell out of a guitar. I had definitely considered sleeping with him.
Unfortunately, my mind had also explored less thrilling scenarios: A torn condom, a missed period, a cluster of cells, a stuffy waiting room—and a one-night stand who was suddenly pressuring me to incubate a human for nine months and then shoot it out of my vaginal canal.
Jack may have reported on human rights in India, but he was raised a Christian in Texas. Over friendly drinks, we had discussed our respective views on abortion—I write and report on feminist issues, so these things come up in conversation when someone asks me about my day—and I knew that he was firmly against the procedure. We hashed out the issue at length that night, and though the discussion was perfectly civil, neither of us had budged an inch by the end. And for me, that meant the conversation would not be transitioning to the bedroom.
In theory, a guy like Jack would never go for a girl like me. “You think I’m a baby killer, I think you’re a misogynist” isn’t exactly a strong foundation for a relationship. But hot anti-choice guys exist, and they have hit on me. And somehow, while discovering that a man is against abortion rights totally kills any mental attraction I might have to him, the physical attraction doesn’t always die.
That means that whenever I meet a new candidate, I’ve got to sneak in some pregnancy talk when I still have the willpower to wave the guy off to the friend zone. I want to avoid any situation where he’s hot, I’m naked, and he’s under the impression that he’s got any say over what I do with any unwanted products of this sexual encounter. That gets tricky, because even when I’ve zeroed in on a guy who supports abortion rights, a discussion of fetal viability isn’t the most obvious tactic for getting a guy to want to sleep with me. There have definitely been moments when I’ve considered screwing my principles and just screwing the guy. At times like those, I remember the one anti-choice guy who did make it beneath my sheets.
After sleeping together several times, this guy told me that he was opposed to late-term abortions because he believed that women “should have made up their minds” by the second or third trimester. I’ll probably never be forced to seek a late-term abortion, but I couldn’t shake the sense that he was looking down on women who are. I’m pretty sure we didn’t have sex that night.
But we did spend many more nights together after he made his views known. By that point, the relationship was too real for me to cut him loose over a theoretical. To make up for the rule breach, I flipped into feminist mode, explaining to him that late-term abortion is usually a life-saving procedure, one that you have when your choice is to end the pregnancy or die, not because you didn’t get around to calling Planned Parenthood in the first 12 weeks. He admitted that he hadn’t thought about the fact that abortion is costly, and that saving up for it can take so long that the first trimester elapses before the funds are raised. So when I was able to get him thinking about it—and when he eventually changed his mind—it was deeply satisfying. Almost sexy.
But by the time we split up, he continued to maintain that “some” women have “too many” abortions and use “abortion as birth control.” I had planned on explaining to him that a woman who uses abortion “as birth control” probably does so because a host of socioeconomic, political and interpersonal factors have combined to mean that she does not have access to the education, contraception, and personal autonomy to use actual birth control. And another thing: why should he get to decide how many abortions are “too many”? But we were too busy breaking up. It was entirely unrelated to abortion.
The importance of abortion rights to my personal relationships only came into focus when I started dating someone new. This guy was pro-choice when we met, and the revelation wasn’t even awkward. He offered the intel when I told him about my work as a feminist blogger. I still got the thrill of influencing his opinion: A few months into the relationship, he called me up to deliver a 30-minute monologue detailing his revelation that abortion access is about controlling women. It was glorious to witness. And this time, it was also a huge turn-on, for my brain and my body.
After that call, I decided I could never go back to having sex with a man who wasn’t full-throatedly pro-choice. I’m still looking for him.