A listener emailed me recently doing that thing feminists hate: playing Devil’s Advocate about a topic he doesn’t fully understand. He asked me why men have “no rights” from conception, through a pregnancy, to birth or termination. The tone was as nonchalant as if he proposed “interesting” exceptions to the tax code. He proceeded to propose scenarios and solutions, such as when the woman wants to have the baby and the man does not. To which, his solution was letting the father sign away his rights to his child in the same window of time she has to terminate the pregnancy—a responsibility abortion, if you will.
His issue, in summary, was that “the female has 100% control over that child and the decisions around it.” The following is my response to his philosophical “dilemma”:
Dear Alternative Baby Options Regarding Termination,
You’re right. Many don’t want to talk about male rights because it sounds like a bad meme. I actually hate that Men’s Rights Activists hijacked the term “Men’s Rights” because it should be something very valid. They have some really good points—if they weren’t such assholes about it!
The reason men don’t have equal rights during this period is because men and women are biologically unequal during this time period. Until that fetus is born, it’s not the man’s physical responsibility or burden.
“Well, why is the man responsible for a baby he doesn’t want after it’s born?” Well, the scenario you didn’t consider, and is all-too-common, is that two people were not given comprehensive sex education. They maybe use two condoms to be “extra safe” (note: this is actually less safe). The condoms rub against each other during intercourse and break, and she gets pregnant. He doesn’t want the kid—and neither does she! But, unlike the man who can attempt to disappear and face no physical ramifications of a pregnancy, that woman maybe lives in a state with limited access to abortion. Maybe the closest abortion clinic is 300 miles away because local legislation shut down all the state’s other abortion clinics with medically unnecessary TRAP laws. And likely she works a low-income job where she can’t afford to take multiple days off of work to make the trip to the clinic, have an appointment, travel home (because many states require two appointments: an examination and then the procedure), travel back a week later, get the abortion, and spend a day there before driving back 5-8 hours. Let’s pretend she has the spare cash to drop on an abortion. Let’s also ignore any psychological trauma from having the procedure (not all women have this, of course, but some do). But don’t forget the death threats and dead baby signs she has to endure walking in and out of the clinic (twice).
What’s the guy gotta worry about? Maybe chipping in some money for the procedure if he’s a really good guy, since he’s not legally obligated to pay for it.
Men can have a say in the termination/carrying of a pregnancy when it causes us to gain a massive amount of weight, urinate nonstop, vomit nearly every morning, be tired all the time because of the parasite in our abdomen, and push a football out of our buttholes with the possibility of death. Until then, if you truly 100% can not manage a baby, be more selective about who you have sex with. Or don’t have vaginal sex.
If men want the kid and she wants to abort it? You’re right, there’s no solution for that because it’s not up to him. It’s her body. It’s her choice.
If you want to talk about male parenting rights, that’s a totally valid issue that could use some spotlight on it. There’s still certainly a bias in custody battles that unfairly favor the mother. But that’s for another podcast.
Hope that clears things up,