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