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Old 11-04-2013, 03:41 PM   #1
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Make Fatherhood a Man's Choice

A friend sent me this article today and I thought it was very interesting and might garner interesting debate here...as a break from Obama and Congress.

The basic premise:

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Despite all of this and in complete keeping with my deep-seated feminism, I believe that making fatherhood optional—as motherhood is—and revamping the child support system to stop requiring financial support from noncustodial parents (usually men) who want to opt out early is good for women, men, and the kids in question. In addition, we should further our support of women who choose to opt out of motherhood via abortion or adoption as well. It’s time to make parenthood a true choice, on every level.
Make fatherhood a man’s choice! - Salon.com
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Old 11-04-2013, 04:31 PM   #2
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I get Anna March's point that if women can opt out of parenthood, then so should men. I'm just not so sure if her idea would really work.

I'm sure a lot of men will say, "screw this" and opt out of fatherhood - and continue carelessly fathering children left and right. Of course there are men who do this already, as in deadbeat dads, but cases like this are uncommon. I just think if the woman a guy slept with is going to keep the child and raise it, he should take responsibility that he got her pregnant. It takes two to tango.

Also, men and women approach parenthood totally differently, and therefore won't be equal in that regard. Men will never experience having a life grow inside of them. It's like the author is trying to create equality in a situation where there is no true equality.

But this is a very complex issue. There's always a chance a woman could tell her boyfriend he's the father of her child and he chooses to support the kid - only to find out years later that he was never the father to begin with. This happens a lot and I feel very sorry for the men who go through this.

Eh, humans are an irresponsible lot, no matter the gender.

Also, I agree with March here:

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I think men have a right to opt out of both, but if one argues that men are responsible for the outcome of a pregnancy they created, and abortion is the outcome, why don’t we pursue men for abortion costs?
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Old 11-04-2013, 04:42 PM   #3
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My first instinct was to roll my eyes at this title, but I did read the whole thing. I understand what the author is saying- that if women have total freedom about whether to become mothers, than fathers should too. Of course women do not have total freedom about that- abortion is heavily stigmatized socially, expensive and increasingly hard to access, not to mention the mythologizing of motherhood that girls are brought up with that makes an active choice not to be a mother seem backwards and unnatural. But I get it, the idea that a woman can choose to keep a baby negates a man's "choice" to be a parent.

I guess my sense that the choice to abort or carry a baby and the choice to deny or accept paternity may be inherently unequal. The site of paternity is social, not biological. It's a far less intimate choice. Because it doesn't take place in his body I question whether it can carry the same emotional weight.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:55 PM   #4
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This has got to be one of the best pieces of satire I've ever read.

Oh...it's not satire, you say? It tries to make a legitimate moral imperative out of enabling the irresponsibility of deadbeat dads?

Carry on, Salon. Carry on.
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:26 PM   #5
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Is it not a bit late to opt out after the child is born? Apples and oranges. Silly article
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:55 PM   #6
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I thought the article was asking men to decide to claim paternity during pregnancy, roughly the same period that women choose to keep or terminate. Maybe I misunderstood though?
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:56 PM   #7
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Agree with JT. To me this is being looked at in totally the wrong context. It's not an ex post decision, but an ex ante decision.
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:23 PM   #8
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The writer says this:

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(To be clear, like these authors, I am not talking about cases in which people have decided to have a child together and then one person wants to opt out. I’m talking about a short window during pregnancy—so that women have enough time to make their own decision about which reproductive choice they are going to make in light of the man’s decision, in case that is a factor for them.)
So yes, it is before the child is born. But a short window? What, two weeks? What if the guy changes his mind? What if he wants to get involved after the child is born once he realizes what is best?

The more I think about this piece, the more it does not make sense. On one hand, many feminists blast deadbeat dads. But this op-ed seems to support deadbeat dads. What's going on here?

It also seems to be a silly attempt to create equality in, as I said before, a situation that has no equality. While I agree that some differences between the sexes can be cultural and social, this is biological and cannot be rationalized, no matter what the "gender is not real" crowd says.

Sadly, this piece is not a mockery or a satire. It really is someone's opinion and hope.
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:26 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jeevey View Post
I thought the article was asking men to decide to claim paternity during pregnancy, roughly the same period that women choose to keep or terminate. Maybe I misunderstood though?
That's irrelevant though. It needs to be accepted that for every woman's action, there isn't always an equal and opposite man's action. And vice versa. A man will never make a decision that is analogous to a woman terminating a pregnancy. That decision could be made jointly, but ultimately, it's the woman's body. Men don't get to claim fatherhood in the same respect. We're just different there. And that's ok

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Originally Posted by anitram View Post
Agree with JT. To me this is being looked at in totally the wrong context. It's not an ex post decision, but an ex ante decision.
Had to look those definitions up, but
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:27 PM   #10
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It's one of the most intractable issues in the whole world of gender relations: pure biology. Women carry babies and men do not. It would be neat if we could create a world in which women do not bear the greater social, economic and emotional weight of childbearing, but they will always be the ones with the physiological responsibility.
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Pearl View Post

It also seems to be a silly attempt to create equality in, as I said before, a situation that has no equality. While I agree that some differences between the sexes can be cultural and social, this is biological and cannot be rationalized, no matter what the "gender is not real" crowd says.
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:39 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jive Turkey View Post
That's irrelevant though. It needs to be accepted that for every woman's action, there isn't always an equal and opposite man's action. And vice versa. A man will never make a decision that is analogous to a woman terminating a pregnancy. That decision could be made jointly, but ultimately, it's the woman's body. Men don't get to claim fatherhood in the same respect. We're just different there. And that's ok
When a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy, she is thinking about her right to own her body.

When a man chooses not to support a child, he is thinking about his wallet.

See? No room for equality. Two totally different situations. If feminists are seriously thinking about changing this, then the movement has lost rationale.

ETA: Also, for the writer to say that the state should support the kid if the man chooses not to be father because of his rights as a man, it sounds like she wants a sort of society where children are raised by the state with no clue who their parents are. They may know who their mothers are, but who their fathers are does not matter. At a certain age, the children are taken away from their parents to be raised by some institution to learn to be members of the state. Yeah, that's good for human relations.
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:40 PM   #13
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Monty Python's Life of Brian: I want to have babies - YouTube
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Old 11-05-2013, 03:26 AM   #14
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Hopefully we can get to a point in time when children are never conceived during sex.

With medical advances we should be able get to a place where an office visit can result in a wanted pregnancy.

Livestock is produced without intercourse for a much better result.
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Old 11-05-2013, 06:53 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearl View Post
When a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy, she is thinking about her right to own her body.

When a man chooses not to support a child, he is thinking about his wallet.

See? No room for equality. Two totally different situations. If feminists are seriously thinking about changing this, then the movement has lost rationale.
Agreed there, except that I don't think this issue is a generalized feminist concern. The author even says that the article was in response to prominent feminist critique of the idea of choosing paternity. I think most feminism is pretty aware of the complexity that biology lends to the idea of true equality in parenting.

The weird thing about this article is that it assumes a man's only responsibility in fatherhood is financial; ie if he pays up he's fulfilled his obligation. So essentially the author is equating 18 years of financial commitment and zero personal involvement with pregnancy, childbirth, all the attendant physical and hormonal changes contained there, huge investment of time and energy in the early years and a lifetime of commitment to the wellbeing of another human being. Yep, sounds like equality to me.
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