Friday, January 06, 2006

A Man's Right to Choose

Katherine Coble has an interesting post today, which I feel like I should disagree with in some way, but I'm tired and one of my eyes is filled with gunk, and so I can't figure out what bugs me about it. You're off the hook this time, Missy (or Mrs.y or Ms.y, whichever)! But she mentions something in passing that I actually think a great deal about, having, as I do, a brother who, at this rate, is probably the father of at least one of the kids you are raising*. Coble:
If you contribute half the DNA for the makeup of a human being, you are responsible for that human being's welfare until they turn 18. Period. End of story. You can deal with this responsibility by being there, paying others to be there or electing to relinquish your rights through adoption. If you don't then you're pond scum.
I think I almost agree with this. But here's what bothers me. I firmly believe that a woman has a right to say what goes on in her own body. If she discovers that she's pregnant and doesn't want to be, tough shit for anyone who has other ideas about what she should do. And, as you know, since we've fought about it before, I think this includes the father of the child. A man doesn't automatically get some say over what a woman does with her body just because he ejaculated in her**. That being said, I think there's a true level of fucked-up-ed-ness to the fact that the reverse often doesn't hold true. Often women get a lot of say over what men do with their bodies just because those men ejaculated in them. In a perfect world, ever child would be wanted and well-cared for by a large group of adults who were ready to support it. But I keep coming back to the idea that children are not the proper punishment for sex and that it's fucked up for us as a society to continue to insist that they are. If a woman and a man have sex and the man doesn't want to have children, why should he be punished with having to support one? I don't see how some kind of "opt in" to parenthood will ever work in a way that doesn't oppress women. A man cannot choose to be a parent to a child a woman is unwilling to carry to term; there's just no way that such a strategy doesn't work to the detriment of the woman. But there ought to be an easy way for either or both parties to "opt out" of parenthood. If I honestly believe that a woman has a right to choose not to be a parent, then I have to believe that a man has that same right. A man who wants to be a father to his offspring should have to help with the expenses of raising said offspring as well as being there for the emotional well-being of said offspring. But if he doesn't want to be a father, he shouldn't be forced to be. *I hope you're lucky enough to actually know which ones are his, but if not, oops, sorry you had to find out this way. **Yes, I know many of you disagree with me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still maintain that any woman who does it without consulting the man is just the lowest of the low. She gets to make the final choice, but he should have knowledge of the whole thing and she should at least listen to what he thinks. At the very least, she gives him the right to have an opinion when she decides to let him ejaculate inside her.

I'll put my small soapbox away now.


1/06/2006 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

"I don't see how some kind of "opt in" to parenthood will ever work in a way that doesn't oppress women"

Your problem here isn't with society, it is with Mother Nature and/or God. They're the ones who gave you the uterus.

If the father wants the child, but the woman doesn't, you say the mother gets final say.

If the father doesn't want the child, but the mother does, you still say the mother gets final say.

Let's play hypothetical. You're the one with the penis. Your girlfriend just got pregnant, and aborted the child even though you desperately wanted to keep the kid. You had no say in the matter what so ever.

How would that make you feel? Probably the same as the men out there in the real world who have actually had that happen to.

1/06/2006 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

By the way, heck of a post.

1/06/2006 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Lee, I would feel like hell. Of course. And I'd be pissed off and hurt and my grief would render me inconsolable, I imagine.

But that's what happens when you interact with other autonomous human beings--occassionally they do things you wouldn't, if you could control them, let them do.

And W., I don't disagree with you. I think that an important part of being in a relationship with someone is that you're in it together. You make decisions that you would otherwise make alone together.

I'm saying that, in the end, it's the woman's right to decide if she's going to carry a pregnancy to term, regardless of what anyone else thinks. I never said, and I wouldn't say, that I think it's okay for her to make that decision on her own without taking into consideration her obligations to the people in her life.

If I were in a relationship and I got pregnant and I decided to have an abortion and my partner opposed my decision, I'd have to be an enormous dumbass to think that, if I went ahead and had one, I could still have a relationship with my partner.

My belief in freedom of choice doesn't mean that I believe women can have abortions without there being any consequences to that decision.

But there's an enormous gulf between whether or not it's okay to do something and whether or not we need to legislate it.

Which brings me back to my original point, which is, if women can decide whether or not they want to be parents, we need to provide some clear mechanism for men to make that same decision.

Since I'm opposed to men being able to force women to either have abortions or not have abortions, then I think that mechanism must be put in place in some other way.

1/06/2006 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous brittney said...

Opting out of parenthood for men would be much easier than for women, since there is no abortion to be had for them.

Deciding to have, and carrying out, an abortion is a life-changing, excrutiating decision for most women. I'd venture to say very few women take it lightly. There is sacrifice involved.

What would be the sacrifice for men? Does there need to be one?

1/06/2006 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

>What would be the sacrifice for men? Does there need to be one?

Perhaps the lack of sacrifice in opting out is the natural balance to the inability to opt-in?

1/06/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

I'd say there are men who'd say, "Get that abortion, woman."

Those men are pigs, but they do exist.

It just upsets me that when a child is born someone will say, "Oh look, she has her father's eyes," but four months prior the man that gave her those eyes has no say on whether she will even be carried to term.

1/06/2006 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come now, Brittney, is it really so hard to believe that a partner's decision to terminate a pregnancy will have an effect on the man? While it may not be physical that does not make it any less real. Believe it or not, there are people (in fact, a surprising number of them) who believe, passionately and deeply, that life begins at conception. To those people, as the refrain is often hear, abortion is murder. If the partner of a man who holds such a belief were to have an abortion, how is his loss any different than the murder of a natural born child?


1/06/2006 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

I love it when you call me "Coble" like I'm somebody other than just Kat. ;=p

It makes me feel like one of those talking heads on a PBS documentary....

1/06/2006 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

A man doesn't automatically get some say over what a woman does with her body just because he ejaculated in her**.

No he doesn't. But you're arguing a different point entirely I think. I'm in the "fast-foward nine months" place where all of the who-says-what about abortion is over and there is an actual ex-utero baby in the mix.

Obviously once the kid is out kicking and screaming the argument about whether or not s/he should have been born is moot. The problem is who pays for him/her now that s/he is here. Frankly, unless you sign your parental rights away I think you are obliged to be a parent. Funny how that works.

The bare minimum of that obligation should be to help feed and clothe the wee bastige.

1/06/2006 05:46:00 PM  
Anonymous brittney said...

Is it really so hard to believe that a partner's decision to terminate a pregnancy will have an effect on the man?

No. Men are definitely emotionally affected. I am not denying that.

But there is something very different about HAVING an abortion and having a wife or girlfriend who has an abortion. If men were able to opt out or in they could do so without having to a) have an abortion or b) give birth. Both are painful and much harder on the person who experiences them.

1/06/2006 08:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you contribute half the DNA for the makeup of a human being, you are responsible for that human being's welfare until they turn 18. Period. End of story."

What? That's insane. What about the taxi driver that drove him to the pary where everyone got drunk and had sex. Can't he be dragged in to? If he was late, it wouldn't have happened.

The point is that the DNA is just a bit of code, some protein, part of ejaculate as Aunt B would say. To suggest it implies something is to give it magical meaning. When we say this gives the ejaculator the rights over the subsequent abortion, we reveal the triviality of the connection. Concede that point and we end up saying an ejaculator can prevent an adoption, or should continue to pay after an adoption.

All that building a body in a womb. That is parenting. Then bonding and love and all that follows. That makes a parent.

I am trying to think of an argument as to why the connection doesn't hold. But I don't have to - the asserters of the case have to show why. The confusion that develops when we concede it are just versions of a reduction-ad-absurdem argument which serves to emphasise the instability of the original proposition.

- Barista

1/08/2006 06:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

Gotta love these enlightened types who view the concept of a father as "the guy, er, the ejaculator, who fucked your mom."

All that "building a body in the womb" nonsense is just so darn beautiful until the nurturing mother shats out the kid and leaves him in a dumpster. Yessiree, that makes a parent.

Stick to making coffee.

1/09/2006 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Christ Jesus, Sarcastro.

I'm regularly surprised and dumbfounded by your strong moral strain. But because it seems to come out of nowhere, I'm not sure how to respond to it.

No one is saying that men don't love their children as much as women do or that women are automatically better parents than men.

1/09/2006 09:14:00 AM  

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