Men vs. Roe (Again)

[Trigger warning for misogyny, body policing, and reproductive coercion.]

Is it 2006 again? It sure as fuck feels like it.

Shaker Hammer Time sends along this article from Elle magazine (!) about MRA muckety-muck Mel Feit's newest posterboy Greg Bruell and his crusade against the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad double-standard that allows women to have autonomy over their own bodies.

Bruell is a particularly loathsome candidate, given that, by my reckoning, he's already committed reproductive coercion twice: First by convincing his (now ex-)wife into having children, and then by convincing his (now ex-)girlfriend to have an abortion.

What he really seems angry about is the fact that a woman finally refused to relinquish control of her reproductive processes to him. And thus enters the (erroneous) narrative that women are manipulative bitchez, despite the fact that Bruell, by his own admission, talked two women into reproductive choices, and his partner's birth control failed because of antibiotic dilution.

I'll just reiterate what I said last time Feit and Some Dude were running the same line and the media were inexplicably biting: The argument is that, after a man and woman create a pregnancy together, if the man doesn't want a child, he should be able to opt out of parenting responsibility, and the woman should assume sole parenting responsibilities. The flipside of this coin is that men's rights activists also believe if a woman doesn't want a child, she should be forced to carry it to term at the man's wishes.

(In the latter case, this is usually referred to as "fathers' rights," although they like to leave any reference to "fatherhood" out of the discussion of the former, for which the term "men's rights" is preferred; the use of language alone is informative as to how these men want it both ways.)

Men's rights activists complain that men aren't getting a "say" in reproductive rights, which is a mendacious argument of epic proportions. Men have plenty of "say" over reproductive decisions—but it all happens before the pregnancy. They have "say" in choosing the women with whom they choose to have sex. They have "say" over whether they choose to discuss in depth with a partner what they would do in the case of an unintended pregnancy—and what their partners would do. They have "say" in determining what kind of sex they have with a partner. They have "say" over whether they put a condom on, if they choose to engage in PIV sex.

Once a woman is pregnant, men's legal "say" ends. They don't have the right to demand abortion, and they don't have the right to demand carrying the fetus to term, because conferring those rights would allow them to exact control over another human's body, which is simply an untenable position.

That's why making wise decisions in the first place is key.

And if men's right activists don't like that, they need to take it up with the Almighty, or the Intelligent Designer, or Mother Nature, or whatever, which in its infinite wisdom decided that only some bodies (generally female bodies, but not always) should have the ability to get pregnant.

The fundamental fuckery of this "men should be allowed to opt-out" argument is underlined by basic math: Men are arguing that they want responsibility only if they want responsibility, that they should have a "consequences" option and a "no consequences" option.

It's an argument that is predicated on treating abortion as the equivalent of a "get out of jail free" card, rather than a consequence of unwanted pregnancy.

That's not to suggest that abortion is a punishment. I regard elective and uncoerced abortion as a wholly morally neutral event. But it is a medical procedure (sometimes surgical) with a cost—an out-of-pocket cost for most women, many of whom have to take time off work and travel increasingly long distances even to secure the legal medical procedure. Which is to say nothing of the potential emotional cost of being required to jump through absurd hoops like 24-hour waiting periods and state-mandated ultrasounds.

The reality is that, in the event of a pregnancy, a woman will always have consequences. She doesn't get an opt-out choice.

In the case that it is an unwanted pregnancy by both parties, she has the sole responsibility of termination. In the case that it is unwanted by her, she has the responsibility of termination, as well as whatever bullshit a coercive partner puts her through to try to get her to see the pregnancy through to term. In the case that it is unwanted by him, she has the responsibility of assuming sole financial responsibility herself, or relinquishing the child for adoption if she can't support a child on her own, or suing for financial support.

And, in the event that her partner successfully coerces her against her will to not terminate an unwanted pregnancy, she's not only charged with a financial and parenting burden she doesn't want (which is the most a man faces, in the reverse), but also the additional burden of a pregnancy and delivery, and all the health risks, costs, and personal inconvenience (to put it lightly) such entails, including the very real possibility of missing work for an extended period or losing her job altogether.

No matter from which angle the argument is made, there's no justifying giving a man control over a woman's reproductive choice in order that he may have a consequence-free option.

And all of this nonsense is based on the faulty premise that women can force men to be parents against their wills, but men can't do the same in return. In fact, men can and do force women to be parents against their wills, by sabotaging birth control and using threats of abandonment or violence, or actual violence, to prevent terminations (thus creating a permanent connection to a woman one wants to control).

The MRA parenting narrative is just another narrative of projection, an argument with no basis in reality, made my men who fear that, given half a chance, women will treat them just as badly as they treat women.

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