So, the Professor and I met for lunch to talk yet again about how bad you are in bed.
Ha, kidding! Kidding! You’re fine.
No, instead, we met to catch up and talk about whatever’s on our minds. This time, it was a scholarly article about what happens when “equality” means one gender suffers more than another, and was using as a jumping off point whether men should be able to be compelled to be parents.
My feeling on the matter is “no.”
Men should, upon finding out about a child or a pending child have a short amount of time–a month, let’s say–to decide whether they want to be a father. If they don’t, they then have no legal or financial responsibilities towards the kid; they are, in effect, a stranger to that kid. If they do, then the legal and financial responsibilities start at the time of parental acceptance. If, however, a man has declined legal parenthood but later decides it might be cool to see his kids, tough. You initiate contact with the child, at any point in that child’s life–he could be 50–and you’re on the hook for 18 years of child support. That way no one thinks they can just do an end run around the hard work and the large amounts of money raising a kid takes.
That seems to me to be equitable. We get to decide whether we want to be parents. The same should be true of men.
The Professor, interestingly enough, also recently saw a Dr. Phil about this very issue, in which the people arguing against what we might call affirmative parenthood–ostensible feminists–were making what sounded to her to be the anti-abortion argument, but towards these men: tough shit, they made a baby, now they have to deal with it; it’s a baby, it’s a life, it deserves to be protected and cared for. And then the argument morphed into “but a child deserves two parents.”
Well, you know, once you start hearing folks who claim to be on our side using the arguments against us against other people, it starts to make you wonder.
And the thing that it makes me wonder is whether we haven’t conflated “good for women” with “feminist.” Because, don’t get me wrong, it is very, very good for women if men pay child support for the children they have fathered. And it may indeed be the right thing, for where we are right now, as women, to continue to make it as easy as possible for women to get child support for their children.
But does that make it feminist? I don’t think so. I mean, I don’t know, actually, but I suspect not. What, exactly, is particularly feminist–or even about “equality”–in fighting for women to have control over when and how they’ll reproduce while we deny men that same right?