Today, August 25, one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country took effect in Texas. The ban, which follows the Supreme Court’s dismantling of abortion rights across the country, will undoubtedly have a massive impact on people who can get pregnant throughout the state, where they’ll now face consequences like forced pregnancy, imprisonment, and even death without legal access to safe abortion. And for some reason, in the midst of this horror, a bunch of Dallas chefs are planning to play cornhole and talk about vasectomies.
Next Monday, August 29, chef Joshua Farrell will host a “backyard barbecue” called Dad Bods and Vasectomies alongside restaurant nonprofit SIRVE, at which guests can enjoy food prepared by six different (male) chefs and listen to stand-up comedians, play cornhole, and generally talk about dude things. They’ll also have the opportunity to talk with a doctor from Urology Partners of North Texas about vasectomies, and at the end of the night, one lucky dude will win “financial assistance from SIRVE to explore and possibly obtain a procedure.”
Farrell has been beating the pro-vasectomy drum since at least June, shortly after the Supreme Court’s draft opinion in the case that overturned Roe v. Wade was leaked. In an interview with the Dallas Observer back in June, Farrell said that he thought it was “super important” to start “spreading awareness” about vasectomies. “The whole topic of reproductive rights is such a fiery one, and I see one direction right here with boys supporting women and being proactive in sharing the burden of contraceptives,” he told the paper. “I see a gap there that needs to be filled with awareness and education.”
Speaking with D Magazine about this event, though, Farrell insisted that this party “is not a political event,” and “not inspired by any news story or tied to any cause except to get men more invested in women’s healthcare.” If that’s the case, why aren’t organizations like Texas Equal Access Fund, which provides financial assistance to pregnant people seeking abortions, and Planned Parenthood involved? Perhaps more to the point: Why isn’t this event even attempting to raise money for organizations that have actually been working to improve healthcare for women and pregnant people for decades?
The intentions here are admittedly noble, but the execution falls completely flat. Sure, more men should take responsibility for their role in reproduction, and a vasectomy is a great way to do that. But cisgender men’s bodies aren’t the ones being criminalized at this very moment, and vasectomy access isn’t being threatened. It’s very unlikely that anyone who needs a vasectomy will ever face legal repercussions for choosing to have one. A pregnant person who wants to control their reproductive destiny by having an abortion, though? In Texas, they’re now forced to travel hundreds of miles outside of the state to obtain the healthcare they need.
Perhaps it’s the humorless feminist in me, but if Farrell and anyone else planning to attend this event really wanted to “invest” in women’s healthcare, he’d put his money where his mouth is. The proceeds from this event won’t help anyone get an abortion, and now seems like a really strange time to shift the focus onto the genitals of cisgender men who cannot get pregnant when those of us who can have been stripped of our bodily autonomy.