July 5, 2013

DECEPTIVE CONCEPTION: When I got pregnant, my boyfriend thought it was an accident. It wasn’t.

Tracy Quan explored this phenomenon over a decade ago. “In some circles, the fashionable view is that males are responsible for unwanted pregnancies. A public service ad aimed at young women features a manipulative teenage boy pressuring his girlfriend to prove her love by having risky sex, but there are no Planned Parenthood posters warning young males about girls who say they’re on the Pill when they’re not.”

If men did this to women, it would be considered a species of rape. But, of course, the women could still get an abortion. As Tracy Quan notes:

Suppose Bill was in charge of birth control, and he informed his girlfriend that he had stopped using contraception some time ago, was coy about the exact date and chose to break the news to her in bed after a successful frolic. Lucy would feel violated; most women would regard him as a man so predatory as to be unfit for fatherhood. Bill’s pushy bid for a commitment would look downright pathological.

The fact is that despite our egalitarian efforts to turn reproduction into a rational process, men and women don’t always hold each other to the same standards. Women, at times, can get away with behavior that we wouldn’t tolerate from men — and many of us exploit the inequalities that are said to work against us. As the anti-suffragette feminist Emma Goldman said in a discussion about “woman’s inhumanity to man,” “woman is naturally perverse.” Women can be presumptuous about deciding how and when to breed, and some women would argue that what we do with our wombs is nobody’s business but our own. A woman I know was told by her mother that “men are never ready for babies,” and that consulting the prospective father of her child was therefore pointless.

Rationalization. And if what you do with your wombs is no business but your own, then the notion of “child support” should be equally one-sided.

Related: Psychology Today: Some accidental pregnancies aren’t so accidental—especially if the guy could be a good provider.

Spohn surveyed nearly 400 women at two community colleges. More than a third of women said they had risked pregnancy in the past with men who had attractive qualities—such as commitment to the relationship, good financial prospects or the desire for a family—but hadn’t discussed the possibility of pregnancy with their partner. . . . Spohn contends that women have a built-in biological desire to reproduce with men who are good providers. She presented her pregnancy survey at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society’s annual meeting. Her advice to men: “Beware!”

Some may be taking heed. And maybe we need mandatory DNA testing at birth. It’s for the children. (Via Ann Althouse.)

UPDATE: Via Paul Hsieh, this response.

Plus, a related item here. “Smart NBA players—well, okay, even dumb NBA players—know to use their own: There have been too many love children born of a condom that, oops, had a hole poked in it to make that ‘mistake.’ ‘You’d be amazed,’ says a former Fly Girl I met in Houston, ‘how many women I know who actually do that. Because let’s face it, if you get pregnant, your life is made.’”

And note this scholarly article on the subject from my colleague Michael Higdon: Fatherhood by Conscription: Nonconsensual Insemination and the Duty of Child Support.