The A-word

Written by Emma on February 1st, 2005

So I wrote my first ‘response’ paper for feminist studies yesterday and turned it in. We’re allowed to write about anything we want, as long as it preferably pertains to the reading and relates to feminism. I thought of this while reading, and I think it’s an interesting thing to think about, and we had lots of interesting discussions about it yesterday. It is a pro-choice thing, obviously, because with ‘pro-life’ it would be completely null and void, since regardless of what either parent wanted, the kid would be coming.

Anyway, please disregard the not-so-great format of the paper – I wrote it in about 30 minutes. I just thought I’d put forward the idea for people to think about.

PS – For those of less acquainted with modern-day feminism, it is a fairly unanimous agreement these days that feminism is not ‘man vs women’ but ‘equality for all, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, etc’. Don’t think femi-nazi, think simply assertion of times and situations when people are discriminated against.

Is the Feminist Stance on Abortion Anti-Feminist?
Abortion: The Father’s Side

  Whenever it is reported that a woman was forced by her husband to have an abortion, the whole country cries out in unison. Those who consider themselves ‘pro-life’ are aghast at the ‘murder of another life’ (I use this wording because the scientific and philosophical argument as to what life is and when it begins is not what I am discussing in this paper), while ‘pro-choice’ groups – where most feminists fall – are appalled that a woman was forced to take an action that, in their view, she alone should be allowed to decide to take. But what about the other side of the issue? When is a man not forced to ‘have an abortion’? Under current laws, he has no say over whether his child lives or dies. And, by scientific and legal definition, the child is his. Scientifically, it his as equally his as the mother’s, while legally, this is not so true. Whether he wanted the child or not, when it is born, he will pay child-support for 18 years. One might argue that he shouldn’t have been in such a situation, if he didn’t think he wanted a child. The same can be said about women, but they have a way out: abortion. A man does not.

  It is not fair that a woman who does not wish to have a child should be forced through the metal, emotional, and physical trauma of having her sexual partner’s child. In the same way, it seems unfair that a man who wishes to have a child should have no say whether he can or not – unfair to force him through the mental and emotional trauma of loosing a child. Is it truly women’s place to declare themselves the sole regulators of human reproduction? To me, this seems rather elitist and wrong. It implies that men cannot desire children, or, if they do, they must get permission from a woman to have them. I am not suggesting that every time a man wishes to have a child, a woman should step forward and offer herself as a vessel, but simply pointing out that the decision to have children is extremely swerved towards the female side. This is a 180° twist from a hundred years ago, when females held no rights over their children at all. This too is wrong. Most modern feminists would agree that feminism means equality for all people, including males. In this quest for equality of all, should we not try and accept that males can be primary caretakers as well as women, and can desire children or not desire them?

  Because of the physical aspect of childbearing in humans, it’s hard to find a middle ground as far as who has the right to decide what without seeming to violate someone’s right as a human, one right in particular that is very little voiced in any way other than ‘pro-choice’ abortion activism, in which it refers exclusively to women: the right to reproduce, or not to. Men have this right too, but it is not recognized.

  It seems that these definitions of abortion and women’s rights, as declared by the feminist side, might actually be anti-feminist. These definitions cast women as the sole beings capable of making the decision to have a child, the sole beings capable to raise a child, and the sold being capable of feeling loss when forced to terminate an at least potential life. How many studies have been done to tell the untold stories of the men who find their girlfriends, wives, or even simply sexual partners, have aborted a zygote, fetus, or child that was half his, and cried, because he has lost his baby?

  As I stated before, I am in no way suggesting that women should not have the right to choose when they have a child. It just seems that we are denying this same choice to males, by stating things the way we do now. Unfortunately, I have no solution to this dilemma, only the suggestion that we look harder at the roles we cast ourselves into as participants in reproduction, and what rights each gender has toward a tangled web of DNA, half his, and half hers.

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