For a long time, the place where the double standards of feminism – and even, to some extent, those of mainstream society — were most clearly visible with regard to men has been on the subject of reproductive rights. The double standards are clearest here because, unlike other topics that require extensive research, this particular one is a built-in part of almost everyone’s everyday experience. Anyone who has ever had sex, been in a relationship, or contemplated having children will have experienced this double standard to some degree.
When a man has sex with a woman, he is under the absolute control of his partner. First of all, when a man consents to have sex with a woman, this is also taken to imply consent to father a child. Even if the man withdraws his “ongoing consent” and explicitly states that he does not want children, if the woman becomes pregnant and decides to keep the child, she is then entitled to receive nearly two decades of forced labor from him in compensation.
Courts have ruled that even if the woman obtained the man’s sperm from fellatio before impregnating herself using a spoon, or if the woman committed statutory rape by having sex with a fourteen-year-old boy, she is still entitled to forced labor.
On the other hand, what happens if he decides that he would like to keep the child, and she does not? Even if the man would be willing to take sole custody of the child and, as in the other case, devote at least two decades of forced labor to support it (not to mention everything else that goes into raising a child) alone, it is still her unilateral right to end that child’s life permanently.
Ironically, whereas consenting to have sex is considered to entail consent to support a child in the case of men – this is why we have child support laws that will throw the man in jail if he does not meet his obligations to labor months out of each year to support the child’s financial needs, which literally eradicates whatever rights he supposedly has concerning how he uses “his body” – it is decidedly not the case that women are considered as having consented to the possibility of supporting a child once they’ve consented to having sex.
In her recently-published memoir, actress Naya Rivera revealed that she had aborted a child that had been conceived during her time on Glee without even informing her future husband that either conception or the abortion had happened at all. In an interview with People, she explained that she hopes the son she later gave birth to will one day read her book in order to gain “a better perspective on the issues women face.” She makes no mention of her son trying to understand his father’s perspective, who had been deprived of the chance to participate in the decision at all.
With a few simple searches, one can find countless stories of men who have been crushed by their wives’ or girlfriends’ unilateral decision to abort the lives of children they had desperately wanted to keep. One can even find letters of regret from the countless women who have made that very decision:
To the father of the baby I aborted, I’m sorry that I didn’t include you in my decision. I should have and I regret it to this day. . . . I was scared that you would blame me. I was scared that you would hate the life inside of me. But I was also scared that you would change my mind. I was scared that you would convince me everything would work out. I was scared that you would offer your support. I was scared that you would take its side. I was scared. I convinced myself that I didn’t need to confide in you, that you had no say. . . . And there are no words to explain how cruel and selfish I was in making that decision without you . . .
Now that the sanctity of the ideal of “abortion” has been deeply enshrined in the public consciousness, in a culture which now signals more about the importance of casual sex than it does about the value of creating families, the most common suggestion for how to resolve this double standard has been to give men the right to so-called “paper abortions,” in which they are allowed to revoke all rights and responsibilities towards children they’ve conceived prior to their birth, thus allowing the woman to make her own decisions accordingly.
The problem with this approach is that, since few women have the financial means to take care of a child by themselves, the costs simply end up falling to the surrounding community in the form of welfare. Forcing the surrounding community to pay for the costs of the child certainly isn’t any fairer to them than forcing the man whose actions actually helped conceived it to do so. Nor is it fair to children who are thus forced to grow up in a single-parent household. At some point, the health of society is simply more important than men’s’ “individual rights.”
The only reasonable approach to resolving these double standards that doesn’t put “individual rights” ahead of creating healthy communities is to allow men to take sole custody of those children which their girlfriends and wives do not want. The barrier to such a policy would be that it “forces” women to endure pregnancies they would prefer to end. But we already violate men’s “rights over their own bodies” by demanding that they work what amounts to two decades of forced labor whenever they end up in the same situation, and this demand is not one we can reasonably end. If requiring women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term is slavery, then so is this. But if one accepts that consenting to intercourse entails consenting to two decades of forced labor for men, and this isn’t considered sexist or offensive, then it shouldn’t be considered sexist or offensive to suppose that said consent also entails consenting to a trial which – however inconvenient, uncomfortable, and painful it may be – lasts only about 0.05 times as long for women as the term of labor for men does.
As things stand, the only thing we can say to a man whose child is unilaterally aborted against his will by his partner is, “If you didn’t want that to happen, you should have exercised more discretion and chosen a partner who wouldn’t do that to you.” This is the same response that is given to a man who is forced into two decades of labor for an unwanted child. Allowing men to take custody of children their spouse or girlfriend doesn’t want would place this basic requirement of discretion and prudence equally on both partners.
No matter what happens, significant sacrifices are required in these types of situations. We can’t treat a policy which asks sacrifices from women as being beyond the pale while taking it for granted that men should of course make an even greater sacrifice. Removing the demand for this sacrifice from men is no serious option, either, since this merely throws the costs onto the surrounding community, which didn’t ask for it any more than the men did. Allowing men to take sole custody in such cases would enshrine the same core legal principles for both men and women, and ask from them both roughly the same level of sacrifice. Where nature exempts men from the need to physically carry children to term and give birth, the law could similarly exempt women from the need to labor for years on end to financially support children they don’t want. Something like this would be the only kind of policy that actually places the health of the community first without implementing severely hypocritical double standards.
Within a week of this writing, a bill has been passed in Arkansas which, in part, proposes exactly that:
D. Whoever violates the provisions of this Section shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars per incidence or occurrence, or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both. In addition to whatever remedies are otherwise available under the laws of this state, failure to comply with the provisions of this Section shall provide all of the following:
(1) A basis for a cause of action for civil damages for injuries and wrongful death as more fully set forth in Civil Code Articles 2315.1 and 2315.2, whether or not the unborn child was viable at the time the abortion was performed, or was born alive, except that such causes of action shall only be maintained by the following persons:
(a) The natural or biological father of the aborted infant or fetus, unless such father’s criminal conduct caused the pregnancy.
(b) The mother of the aborted infant or fetus, subject to the provisions of Subsection F of this Section.
(c) The parents or guardian on behalf of the mother of the aborted infant or fetus if the mother was a minor at the time of the abortion, unless the parents or guardian consented to the dismemberment abortion.
Notably, the clause in (D)(1)(a), “unless such father’s criminal conduct caused the pregnancy,” would explicitly exempt cases of rape, despite countless fake news reports claiming that the law “lets rapists sue if victims want to have an abortion.” Karen Musick, co-founder of Arkansas’ Abortion Support Network, responded that “[t]here is zero part of me that understands why a rapist or someone who got pregnant against their will, maybe incest, would have any right in that decision . . . I cannot wrap my brain around the fact that there would be anyone who thinks otherwise.” As usual, this is nothing more than blatant disinformation from people who haven’t even read the text of the bill.
There are many other debatable issues raised by this bill which I won’t get into. But the attempt to seriously consider the rights of prospective fathers who want to keep their children deserves our support. And the Left’s hypocritical outrage against this specific aspect of the bill provides us with an excellent opportunity for redpilling ordinary people, because this double standard in how we treat men and women is something that is very easy to understand and relatable for almost all ordinary people.
Feminist critics who read this article will likely charge that I, as a man, have no right to speak about abortion due to the fact that I’m never going to end up pregnant. Leaving everything else aside that one could say in response this argument, sticking to it consistently would actually end up destroying the feminist case even faster – because women are even more critical of it than men.
A 2002 Public Agenda poll found that 44 percent of men, compared to 42 percent of women, believed that “abortion should be generally available.” 22 percent of women, compared to 21 percent of men, believed “abortion should not be permitted.” A 2012 Gallup poll found that the percentage of women who thought abortion should be illegal in all circumstances ranged from 15 to 21 percent, whereas for men it ranged from 12 to 19 percent.
In fact, the research shows that even among practicing Catholics, men still support more liberal abortion laws than women. Could it be that men actually have an even greater interest in lowering the “costs” associated with casual sex than women? While one hears little from agencies like Planned Parenthood about women who are pressured into abortions by their partners or others, a 2010 study from the very liberal Guttmacher Institute went so far as to find that “’reproductive control’ – when a man allows or forces his partner to get pregnant, then makes her have an abortion – is more common than you’d think.”
It’s hard to imagine that the relative lack of attention this issue gets has nothing to do with the fact that abortion providers do in fact profit from providing abortions, and therefore have a reduced incentive to stop them even when they’re brought about by abusive or manipulative means. But amazingly, the Left seems to lose its skepticism regarding the psychological impact of the profit motive when it comes to businesses it favors politically.