Half the Problem

Talivangelicals in a nutshell.

Since it’s been a while, I’m going to do a little takedown. I found this piece via Love Joy Feminism on Patheos. It was written by Thomas Wheatley and entitled Want to end abortion? Hold men — fathers of those unplanned children — accountable.

As you can see, this is going to be good. So away we go!

Also, if this isn’t your thing, don’t go past the jump. But if you’re interested, let’s go!

Almost every day, I help facilitate the termination of anywhere between two and five marriages. As an attorney who practices family law, ending marriages makes up the bulk of my work.

Notice that he’s not using the term “divorce”. Instead he’s saying he’s “ending” marriages or “terminating” them. Why all the euphemisms? Divorce is a perfectly acceptable term; why try to soften it?

The other part of my job mostly concerns matters stemming from failed, failing and sometimes entirely nonexistent marriages. Separation agreements; child custody disputes; child support enforcement; restraining orders; parental rights termination; visitation schedule modification — each the latest turn in an often long and painful story, and each requiring my guidance.

There’s no judgment on my part. Not only is there no time for making judgments, doing so would be unprofessional and could compromise my ability to be an effective legal counselor. Moreover, my clients know their lives far better than I do, and although it’s likely some who come through my door are in marriages not yet doomed to failure, many others are stuck in matrimonial torment, well beyond the point of reconciliation. Some are even in life-threatening situations.

No judgement, huh? So why not staying out of a woman’s decisions? The fact that she may need/want an abortion literally doesn’t affect you. This is between the woman and her doctor, no one else. It’s not that difficult a concept to grasp. And yes, there are times when a woman’s life is in danger due to pregnancy; not every abortion is “wanted”. Some are medically necessary.

That said, just like some pregnancies, there are some marriages that certainly need to end. If either person is being threatened, or feels as though they may be harmed, then the marriage needs to be dissolved. If there is abuse, then the marriage is done. Toxic relationships don’t need to be saved.

Still, the more cases I take on, the more I notice patterns emerging. Chief among these, many of the people I assist are mothers trying to fix the damage wrought by an absent, neglectful or abusive man. In each case, my job requires me to ask about the father’s role — or more often, whether he has one at all.

Some men don’t need a role in the lives of their children. End of discussion. Again, if there is abuse, then the relationship is over. It’s not hard to grasp.

Abolishing abortion, restoring fatherhood

Eventually, the answers start to run together. Sure, he pays his support, but his children never see him. Or he’s an addict. Or he’s in jail. Or he’s with his new girlfriend. Or maybe they don’t know where he is.

Or again, maybe the kids are better off without him. Ask my mother. Hell, just ask Prime.

When viewed against this backdrop, it is little wonder some people use words like “trapped” and “forced” to describe the consequences of banning abortion. Taken alone, laws like Georgia’s and Alabama’s, for example, put women in the precarious position of bringing a child into the world without any reliable support system.

Yeah, about that: a good number of “pro-lifers” are absolutely against any real support systems. They are perfectly fine with the pregnant woman having the baby, but they’ll be damned if their tax money is going to support it! You know, “can’t feed ’em, don’t breed ’em”.

So much for “pro-life”.

To be clear, as a person who is strongly pro-life, I welcome nearly all efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade and eradicate abortion from our country. These legislative initiatives are long overdue, and I remain confident that abortion, much like slavery, will one day be regarded as a terrible blight on our nation’s character.

Yet a comprehensive life-affirming culture demands more than simply abolishing abortion. We must also restore the original support system that made it safe for women to choose life in the first place. In this respect, I’m greatly disappointed by the pro-life movement’s languid approach to emphasizing the other, equally crucial part of the pro-life equation: fatherhood.

Here we go. If these women would just get married, all this stuff would sort itself out!

It doesn’t work that way. Let’s be honest: if a teenage boy has sex with his girlfriend and she gets pregnant, him dropping out of school and marrying her is a terrible idea. Both are far too young to be married, let alone parenting a child! They’ll be stuck in low wage jobs. They won’t have a lot of chances for advancement. They won’t have the necessary skills to adapt to their new life.

In other words, it’ll be an unmitigated disaster.

That’s not even getting into the fact that some adults have difficulty with marriage. Matrimony is not for everyone.

The arguments against banning abortion often reflect fear, frustration and desperation — not support for abortion as a positive good. Most notably, pro-choice advocates lament the lack of support for expectant mothers. They deride the absence of free health care, free child care and compulsory paid maternal leave. They even go so far as to call pro-life advocates hypocrites, saying that if people like myself really cared about sparing the unborn, we’d make it our priority to support women making the journey to motherhood alone.

When you take away healthcare for sick babies, you are a hypocrite.

When you oppose social programs for single mothers, you are a hypocrite.

When you oppose abortion exemptions for rape and incest, you are a hypocrite.

You can’t claim to be pro-life if you don’t support governmental programs for poor and working mothers. Otherwise, you’re pro-forced birth and little else.

Also, being married is not a good financial plan. It’s not a good safety net. At best, it’s better than nothing. At worst, it can trap a woman in an abusive relationship. Again, ask my mother about that.

Their argument is fundamentally correct (although their solutions are gravely harmful). Unwanted pregnancy is not a disease, nor is it remedied by the moral hazard wrought by additional government assistance programs. Restoring fatherhood — nature’s built-in complement to motherhood — is what is needed. And it starts by expecting more, legally and socially, from our men.

Because marriage solves everything. Newsflash: it doesn’t.

However, you know what can prevent unwanted pregnancies? A little thing called contraception. But I’d be willing to bet that Wheatley would oppose such a thing.

Men must face consequences, too

At the outset, we should recognize that it takes two to create life and that both parents share in the responsibility to provide for their children. We often hear, for example, of schemes to make abortion a crime for which the mother or doctor should be punished. But when was the last time someone proposed the same for men who father unplanned children?

We have. No one has ever taken it seriously. Because childcare falls to the mother, not the father. Feminism can help change that but I digress.

Much of this is because many people have diminished fatherhood (indeed, manhood generally) into a near farcical idea. Our television sitcom dads — from Peter Griffin in “Family Guy” to Doug Heffernan in “The King of Queens” — are fat, bumbling idiots. Our Father’s Day cards are rife with lazy, dumb dad jokes. Our movies depict consequence-free sexual largesse as a rite of passage for young men.

When young men are incessantly told that the pinnacle of manhood is eating, sleeping and ejaculating, is it really so surprising when they shy away from defined gender roles of a higher calling?

It’s called “privilege”; look it up.

Seriously, the reason why society treats men like overgrown children is because they act this way. How often do you hear about the husband begging his sick wife to make him dinner or do the laundry? Compare that to the responsibilities of a sick husband, which are none.

And remember: when Gillette said that guys could do better, the company got slammed by MRAs saying, “The fuck we can! How dare you?!”

We must demand more. Changing social norms is a start.

Sounds great! So, when do we start teaching guys that they actually have to help with the housework, learn how to cook, and to do laundry?

No, I’m not kidding.

My ex is going on fourty-six and he still lives at home. He has no job. He has no real source of income, other than a part time job that keeps him out of the public eye. The main reason behind this is due to a diagnosis of autism, but even before then, my ex had it easy. He lived with his parents rent-free. He paid zero bills. His mother took care of his car insurance.

Meanwhile, I was living at home and worrying about my college tuition and paying for the cable.

“It would be great if society could rally around the six or seven key bridges on the path to fatherhood,” wrote David Brooks. “For example, find someone you love before you have intercourse. Or, make sure you want to spend years with this partner before you get off the pill. Or, create a couple’s budget to make sure you can afford this.” (We could even mark the occasion by wearing little gold rings, making public vows and having a big, formal party. Just a thought.)

First off, my wedding ring is silver because slag gold and my wedding was very low-key and private.

Now, the idea that you should save sex for someone you love sounds great in theory. But the idea of saving sex only for marriage is terrible. Remember, Wheatley has to deal with divorce and a lot of those divorces are probably between Christian couples. The track record for them staying together isn’t great and if they both came from purity culture, then it’s even worse.

A good number of those raised in the purity culture get married and expect to have mind blowing sex. The reality is that they don’t. And if one person has a lower libido than the other, it’s going to be hell.

Another thing: Wheatley is only thinking about heterosexual marriage. How much do you want to bet that he’d never consider a same sex marriage as valid? Because something something Jesus something something sincerely held beliefs. 🙄

Yet perhaps a change in the law is also warranted — one which strongly deters men from irresponsible sex. Criminalizing adultery is a good place to start, as is punishing men who shirk their fatherly duties.

Actually, it’s a felony in Wisconsin to commit adultery. That hasn’t stopped anyone. Adultery still happens.

We also have laws on the books that punish men for not paying child support. Men still skip it. Unless you give those laws teeth, they won’t deter anyone.

Popular parenting blogger Gabrielle Blair had some interesting ideas in a Twitter thread that went viral, including castrating men who cause unwanted pregnancies. “For those of you who consider abortion to be murder,” she tweeted, “wouldn’t you be on board with having a handful of men castrated, if it prevented 500,000 murders each year?

She meant it as hyperbole (I think), but her point is well-taken. If we are indeed facing a crisis of mass murder in our country, isn’t it about time we ensured everyone is pulling their weight to stop it? If we ban abortion under penalty of law and expect women to embrace the extraordinary responsibilities of pregnancy and motherhood, can we not demand the same of our men?

Yes, she was being facetious. But not for the reason the author might think.

No one would dare question a man’s autonomy; he can do whatever he pleases with his body. However, when it comes to pregnancy, all of the responsibility falls on the woman and she barely has a say in the matter. If she wants birth control, she’s a slut and Wheatley would be the first one to shriek that his tax money shouldn’t cover her contraception. If she needs an abortion for whatever reason, she’s a murderer. If she’s low income and decides to keep the child, then it’s her problem. But there’s another massive problem with Wheatley’s logic.

Wheatley seems to believe that if a woman is married, she’ll never need an abortion. That’s not true. There are married women who have had abortions; one woman needed a late term abortion due to severe birth defects. In my case, I might need one, as I’m on tamoxifen and it can cause fetal damage, if not outright fetal death, while ramping up my fertility! I can’t use hormonal contraception, so I’m stuck with spermicide.

No, it’s not a pretty situation. But I refuse to bring a child into this world only to have it suffer. And the fact that I’m married won’t change that. It’s too bad that Wheatley can’t understand that and that’s only half of the problem.

About Silverwynde

I'm a Transformers fan, Pokémon player, Brewers fan and all-out general nerd. I rescue abandoned Golett, collect as many Bumblebee decoys and figures as I can find and I've attended every BotCon--official and non--since 1999. I'm also happily married to a fellow Transfan named Prime and we were both owned by a very intelligent half-Siamese cat, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on June 16, 2018. We still miss him. But we're now the acting staff of a Maine Coon kitty named Lulu, who pretty much rules the house. Not that we're complaining about that.
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