Jonathon Van Maren drew my attention to this letter seeking advice about whether a woman can ethically keep a child her boyfriend doesn’t want in the New York Times. He comes down hard on selfish and stupid men, which may very often be the case. However, we as women have taught men this is a legitimate option by so often taking it.
Women are always the ones who attach to “what has begun to grow inside us” sooner, as the NYT letter writer puts it (Although she writes this in the context of not having attached to what is growing inside her, yet). Men are by default more distant from their children, one could argue, until they are born. In contrast with a mother who is breastfeeding, men are more distant from their children even after they are born. A sad story I’ve heard more than once includes men who were angry with a pregnancy, but happy with the child who is born, or men who are angry at a pregnancy, demand an abortion, but then change their minds, often when it is too late.
This mentality, by the way, starts with the birth control pill. For hundreds of years women have had the means to prevent pregnancy but the Pill wins for its efficacy, and created a world in which pregnancies while on the Pill were not normal, but accidents. This is why, by the way, the Pill increases abortion use instead of diminishing it. In this domain, one of the greatest myths is that pro-life women like myself have to be pro-birth control pill because this is, so we are told, what prevents the unwanted pregnancies such that no one ever needs to get an abortion. That the facts on the ground show the opposite is never mentioned. If the birth control pill diminished abortion, we would have seen a sharp decline in abortion after the Pill’s normalization in the 60s, but this is quite obviously not what happened.
Part of the culture change of making abortion unthinkable includes women teaching men by our actions. We bear the greater burden in pregnancy and we understand what is happening within our bodies. Pregnancy after sex is normal and possible–and if all men and women believed this and knew it to be the case, there would be a great deal more caution involved in who we go to bed with. Which might avoid the conundrum of learning your boyfriend of several months “never wanted children” and is now demanding a woman at the tail end of her fertility have an abortion.
There is so very little about modern sexual ethics that makes any sense. And certainly, I’d argue, these ethics are more unfair to women than men. This is why women need to be the ones to reject them.