Awhile ago, while writing about a survey that showed more men than women would be secretly pleased at an unintended pregnancy, I offered this theory as to why:
In our sexist society, the decision to marry is basically on the man. Women are the ones who are supposed to be eager to get married, but they’re also the ones who are supposed to sit back and wait to be asked. But asking is showing eagerness, but eagerness is supposed to be girly stuff, so I imagine that’s intimidating for a lot of dudes. Ways to manage the slight emasculation inherent in picking out jewelry and showing interest in this wedding stuff include having a huge public proposal where people will side with you and her only role is to say “yes”, asking her father first and making it seem transactional, or getting over your hang-ups about masculinity and just asking. Or….you could get her pregnant and be the conquering hero by making an honest woman of her. As soon as I realized this, I realized what a powerful fantasy that must be to some men. It’s the perfect way to get what you want (marriage, babies) without having to say you want that girly stuff.
This was rejected out of hand by a lot of commenters, who offered that instead it must be that men are proud their swimmers work, etc. (I don’t think my theory is mutually exclusive from the virility concerns.) And that all came back to mind while reading this rather distressing story from a Texas woman who had an abortion at age 34, even though she has inclination to have children some day. For the non-misogynist, her predicament is easy to sympathize with. Who hasn’t faced a situation where they thought they were getting what they want, but they have to turn it down because the timing is all off? But what really jumped out at me—and was pointed out to me in email—was the approach the impregnator in question took:
Eventually, I called the baby’s father. He drove to town from his home out of state. He was ready to move in with me, get a steady job, co-parent, be the best kind of friends that we are since, according to him, “marriage never works anyway.” He’s divorced. “Maybe this is the excuse I needed to settle down, stop living like a nomad,” he said. It was not the response I’d predicted. But I didn’t want to to be his “excuse” for a major life change. That wouldn’t work for me.
This, as I noted, is always going to subtly complicate the debate over whether or not women should have full autonomy over their fertility, because while some men are petrified of unintended pregnancy, many men see it as a path to True Manhood. Personally, I think what men want is interesting and relevant, but shouldn’t have any influence over a woman’s fundamental rights. But not everyone will see it that way. And so the debate gets uglier and more complex, because this kind of thinking all too often causes pro-choice men to start taking a judgmental attitude to abortion, or suggesting that the anti-choice side is reasonable or moral.
Also, I told you so. BOO-YEAH.
All jokes aside, I want to take this opportunity to point out that the author of this piece makes it very clear that her $450 abortion was an enormous financial burden, and one she couldn’t get covered by the shitty insurance available to freelance writers. Of course, now her predicament will be that of increasing numbers of women, because the price we paid for health care reform is the extracting of abortion coverage from insurance sold through the health care exchange. To help alleviate the burden on women, there are abortion funds around the country that try to provide the money and other forms of assistance. Many women come to them just for advice on how to find a good provider, but quite a few also need help paying for the abortion. As you can imagine, they give as much as they can, but there’s never enough.
Because of this, Jesse and I are joining the virtual bowl-a-thon to raise money for abortion funds.
As of this morning, we’ve raised $140. I’d like to raise a lot more. So I promise that if we reach a goal of $1,000 by April 16th, I will actually go bowling and take a picture of my score, which is bound to be comically low, so you can make fun of me. At the $1,000 level, Jesse promises to bowl granny-style, where you roll the ball from between your legs. Though he swears that he’ll be doing it bad-ass granny-style, like Betty White. If we reach a goal of $5,000, I’ll do so in a T-shirt I’ll get printed up that says “Fucking magnets: How do they work?“, and will pose in that shirt at the bowling alley, so you know that I kept my promise.
Abortion funds want to help as many women as they can, but there’s simply not enough money to go around. Which means they’re often forced to help women who need abortions brainstorm to find ways to come up with at least some of the money themselves. The National Network of Abortion Funds sent me a list of questions they ask women in order to help them raise the money. I’m sharing this with you, so you can get a full idea of what kind of lengths women have to go.
Even a small amount can help!