AOC Says Men Need to Step Up in the Fight for Abortion Rights

“For almost every woman that has gotten an abortion, there’s a man who has either been affected or liberated by that abortion too."

In a GQ cover story published Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke candidly on a number of topics, including the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. On Roe, AOC issued a clear challenge for men to more loudly join birthing people in the fight for reproductive rights.

“For almost every woman that has gotten an abortion, there’s a man who has either been affected or liberated by that abortion too. In this moment it’s really only going to be the vulnerability of men, and men talking to other men, that gives us the greatest hope of shifting things the fastest, soonest,” the 32-year-old politician said.

AOC said she understands the hesitation many men might feel about speaking up, but wishes they would take up more space in advocating regardless. “I think there’s plenty of well-meaning reasons why men may feel like it’s not appropriate for them to talk about it. I think sometimes the way white folks don’t like to talk about race and they say, ‘We just want to center the person who’s most impacted, so it’s not my role to do anything or take a space and speak up,’” she told GQ. “But we know that when white folks take up space and say the right thing in rooms of other white people, that is the most shifting activity that can happen, more sometimes than any protest or any person writing a letter to the editor or anything like that. And we need men to be speaking up in that way as well. But I think men, sometimes they think, I’m not a woman. This doesn’t affect me the most.”

However, the lawmaker pointed out, living under patriarchal societal norms can negatively affect men, as well.

“Men suffer from being under patriarchy,” AOC said. “They don’t go to the doctor. They suffer from much higher rates of completed suicides. Even though they report lower levels of depression, that doesn’t mean that they suffer from it less. Just a couple years ago the American Psychological Association released a very deep paper and a campaign about how these traditional cultural markers of masculinity—stoicism, competition, domination, dominance—are leading to mental health issues for men. There’s a stigma around men being vulnerable.”

But, she said, “the most powerful and persuasive things a person can say on any given issue is sharing their personal experience and personal story.”

During the long-form profile, AOC also opened up about the challenges she has faced as one of the youngest and most left-wing members of Congress. “This generational tension has existed among virtually every single social movement in American history, in labor, in suffrage, in civil rights, in marriage equality. And it is a tension between history and the present moment,” she said. “It’s a tension between inside and outside. It’s a tension between what we can learn and what we don’t know. Any sort of criticism of the Democratic Party is immediately cast as helping the right or ‘You’re disrespectful’ … My everyday lived experience here is as a person who is despised. Imagine working a job and your bosses don’t like you … And then the competing company is trying to kill you.”