Choice for Men

You know how we were talking the other day about my belief that there should be a time set aside so that men, once they find out about their fatherhood or their impending fatherhood, can decide whether or not they want to be fathers?

Well, the subject comes up in Dan Savage’s column today.

Q. I’m a 24-year-old female, and I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost five years. We’re transitioning to a long-distance relationship in January when he moves a hojillion miles away to go to law school. He’s 28, an angel, and I want to have a baby. He doesn’t want to have a baby, at least not in the foreseeable future, and he’s made it clear that if I give him an ultimatum, he’ll dump my ass. I’m longing to spawn, so I’ve decided to get pregnant by him and not tell him. He has nothing to do with birth control, never has, so my plan will succeed. I’m going to do this: That’s not in question.

The question is, do I tell him? I’m not going to dun him for child support or anything, but I’d let him be as involved as he wants to be—pictures, visits, moving in together to raise the kid. I’m never going to tell him that I got knocked up on purpose. I could also theoretically pretend that the brat is someone else’s, but that would require some fudging of dates. So what, if anything, do I tell him, and when? Thanks, love your brain. —E.

A. Thanks for loving my brain, E., but I’m hating your ass. Not only is what you’re planning to do unfair to your boyfriend—who, just like a woman, has a right to decide when, whether, and with whom he would like to reproduce (and who, like most men, needs to be more proactive about birth control to protect his right to make that decision)—it’s hugely unfair to any “brat” unlucky enough to drop from your twat. But, hey, your mind is made up—you’re doing this thing. And I’m not running your letter to argue with you, E. I’m only running it in hopes that a certain 28-year-old who’s about to go to law school a hojillion miles away from his 24-year-old batshitcrazy girlfriend sees it, recognizes himself, and dumps the lying little sociopath. And yes, everybody, I realize this letter could be fake. But just in case it’s not, here it is.

It’s hard for me to remain on-task here because this letter just blows me away with its sheer lunacy.  Can we just side-track for a second into the lunacy, just so I can get it off my chest?  First, if you love someone, you do not force them to have a baby against their will.  Second, if you love someone, you do not pretend the “brat” is someone else’s.  Third, if this is not an obvious ploy to punish the boyfriend for going to law school, I don’t know what is.  Look how she’s all like “I’d let him be as involved as he wants to be–pictures, visits, moving in together to raise the kid.”  She’s going to let him be as involved as he wants to be?  Woman, dude’s going to law school to be a lawyer.  Don’t you expect he might discover multiple ways to be as involved as he wants to be in the kids life without your permission?  And, “moving in together to raise the kid”?  He’s going to law school, far away, unless you stop him with this whole kid thing, which, obviously is part of your plan.

When it comes to men not wanting kids, I know plenty of feminists who say “he shouldn’t have had sex.”  

Oh really?

Would you accept that from a man talking about why a woman shouldn’t be allowed to have an abortion?  No, you wouldn’t.

If a woman has a right to decide whether she wants to be a parent that is separate from her decision whether she wants to have sex, then a man should have the right to decide whether he wants to be a parent separate from his decision to have sex.

“Just don’t have sex.”

Okay, straight ladies, let’s try a little experiment.  Imagine your beloved sweetie comes to you this evening and you’re all smooching and touching and the breathing is getting a little heavy and just when you’re wiggling out of your panties, he says to you, “I’m not having sex with you.”


“Not tonight.  Not ever again.”


“I don’t want to have kids.”

“I’m on the pill.”

“And I use a condom.  So what?  I don’t want to have kids, therefore I will not have sex.”

“Right now?  Because I can wait twenty minutes.”

“No, I’m serious.  I don’t want to have kids, so I’m not having sex with you.”

“We’ve been married seven years.  We have two kids.”

“I don’t want any more.”

“Okay, fine.  I don’t want any more kids.”

“Then you understand why I’m not having sex with you.”

“Is this because I wouldn’t blow you last Friday?”

“No, this is about me taking control of my reproductive freedom.  I’m not having sex with you.”

“Ever again?”

“Or at least until I have a note from your doctor saying that you’re done with menopause.”

“Very funny.”

“I’m not kidding.”

“I’m supposed to go without sex until I’m through menopause?!”

“Well, without me putting my penis in your vagina, yeah.”

“But I like that.”

“So do I.  Tough shit.”

“Tough shit?”

“Yeah, sorry.  I don’t want kids; I’m not having sex.”

“Tough shit?  You just said ‘tough shit’ to me.  Motherfucker.  Try saying ‘tough shit’ to my divorce lawyer.  I didn’t sign up for no more sex.  You fuck me right now or it’s over.”

“I’ll miss you, that’s for sure.”

“I have kids with you, you dipshit.”

“Hey, you’re the one who told me I better get cool with feminism.  All the feminists I read are all ‘If men don’t want to have kids, they shouldn’t have sex.'”

“I will stab you.  I swear to god, I will stab you.”

Let’s just be honest.  This whole “If men blah blah blah, they should blah blah blah” stuff is about exchange.  It sucks greatly and so much to hear over and over again “If women blah blah blah, they should blah blah blah,” that the one time we have some real power–to control whether or not a man has a kid–it’s really, really hard not to do to him what’s been done to us.


But do we want exchange, leave everything as it is, we just get to be the assholes for a while; or do we want real change, where we dismantle things and try new ways?

There should be a way for men to opt out of fatherhood.  Maybe six months is too long, but there should be some set period of time they have to consider whether they want to be a father and, if they don’t, they should be able to sign all their parental rights away.

In instances similar to the poor dude in Dan Savage’s column, I would hope that the waiver of parental rights would also come with a restraining order he could file against the baby’s momma, because I have a feeling she’s not going away easily otherwise.

Girls of the Night

girls2.jpgTurns out that the Murfreesboro paper will run your photo if you’re picked up for prostitution. Ivy’s read the article, looked at the women, and has a question, “Dudes. What in the HELL are you thinking? That’s just nastay.”

Of course, there are lots of reasons men have sex with prostitutes, even ugly ones.

1. Men aren’t just basing their decisions to have sex on the attractiveness of their partners.

2. A prostitute is pretty much a sure thing.

3. You don’t have to pretend to like a

4. If you can agree on a price, a prostitute will do what you like in bed.

5. You don’t have to call her or see her again.

And that’s just what I came up with off the top of my head, sitting here pondering whether I’d be comfortable stacking my photo up next to these women’s and saying for certain that I’m sure I’m so much better looking, so much more eminently worth fucking than they are.

They just look to me like ordinary women who are tired and strung out. Rested and sober? They would look very ordinary, I think.

girls3.jpgYou could say that prostitution is where individual men’s private fantasies and the Patriarchy meet head-on, because here are the women men can do whatever they want with–degrade, rape, murder–or just pay for uncomplicated no-strings-attached sex, you know, the things most johns don’t do to the women who are their girlfriends, wives, mothers, etc. because that’s not how you treat good girls.

And we women go a long way towards trying to convince ourselves that we’re different than them, because as long as we behave like good girls, we deserve to be treated like good girls.

It doesn’t take a genius feminist-theorist to point out what bullshit this is. The line between us and tgirls2.jpghem, between good girl and prostitute, madonna and whore, has always been an illusion, at best.

These women are us. A few bad decisions, a bad drug habit. It doesn’t take much to be that desperate.

I don’t know. It just troubles me. I don’t want people putting my photo up on the internet and talking in wonder about the fact that anyone would want to fuck me.

I hope it’s clear that I’m not trying to knock Ivy or anything.  I have a feeling that, under other circumstances, I’d find her post hilarious and that’s what got me thinking about it.  If I would normally find this funny, but today am troubled by it, what’s at the heart of my being troubled?

Back in My Day, We Had To Walk Up Hill Both Ways to Use the Internet

Back when I was in undergrad, a million years ago, I took a class from my favorite professor probably called something like “Women & writing” where we read a lot of feminist theory and then wrote stories in Storyspace, which was this (oh, look, still is) medium for kind of doing what we do here on the internet, but before the internet was convenient to use.

So, for instance, we were in one of the most wired classrooms on campus–everyone had a computer at their desk–and it was a big deal that those computers were hooked up to each other.  They most certainly were not hooked up to the internet.  Only the computers at the library were hooked up to the internet and you could only be on those for 15 minutes at a time.

The idea in Storyspace is that you can write something, like this post, for instance, and put it in its own space, with a title, much like this post has.  And then you could make another space and write in it and give it a title.  And you could link from words in one space to words in another space and your reader could click through those words and read what you’d written in an order that was kind of a collaboration between your choosing (since you put the links in) and their choosing (since they chose which ones to follow).

Y’all, I even spent a great portion of my master’s thesis deciding if this was “non-linear” reading (no) or something else (somewhat yes).

At that point, though, we did have dial-up at the house.

Still, it’s funny to me to think that thirteen years ago or so, my favorite professor had to spend a whole day teaching us about linking, getting us to let go of the idea that what follows from something you’ve just read has to logically fit.  Or that you would only follow at the end.

And now, everyone’s linking everywhere to everything.

It’s just funny to me to think about me writing my master’s thesis on a computer hooked up to the internet.  I mean, come on!  There I was trying to postulate what a multi-linear world would look like when one was seeping right onto my lap.  I’d have probably gone on to get my PhD if I’d been smart enough to understand that then.