Men should strive to stop the shaming of women for unwanted pregnancies. It’s simply too easy to use common sense to make the case backfire against them otherwise.
While the debate surrounding the morality of abortion keeps raging on, there’s a side to the story of unwanted pregnancies that has often been neglected. By default, society puts a lot of guilt and pressure on women. Unfortunately, there are far too many cases of women being shamed -or worse- for getting unintentionally pregnant, while men walk away without so much as a warning. After all, women are the ones who literally have to carry the weight of pregnancy, so they must also carry the blame... Right? Well, actually, when we think about it, this makes no sense. If there’s anyone to blame, it’s only reasonable that it should be the man.
True, it’s best not to go around blaming anyone at all when it comes to unwanted pregnancies (as long as the sex is consensual); but if we’re going to play that game, then it stands to reason that women should not be the targets. Gabrielle Blair (known in Twitter as @designmom), a blogger from California, made a helpful Twitter thread that presents this common-sense argument in simple terms. The idea is that men, not women, are the ones who actively cause a pregnancy.
Think about it. Men have a far greater potential to cause unwanted pregnancies than women in terms of fertile days in their lifetime; and it’s directly through male pleasure that these pregnancies happen in the first place. Let’s break this down.
By sheer numbers, men are far more capable of getting women pregnant than women are capable of getting pregnant. Men can impregnate women 365 days a year throughout pretty much all their adult lives; whereas women are more fertile only 6 days a month for a total of, at most, 72 days a year; for a limited number of years into adulthood. As Blair rightly points out, men are by far the bigger issue here.
Furthermore, while women can enjoy their sex life to the fullest without the risk of causing a pregnancy, men’s orgasms carry with them the active fertilizer that sets everything into motion. Unlike men, women don’t need a male orgasm in order to enjoy sex. Having an orgasm is a man’s need -and his decision-, and therefore it’s a man’s responsibility whenever he has one. In this sense, getting her pregnant is always his responsibility, and he’s more accountable for it than anyone. After all, it’s virtually impossible for a woman to become pregnant unless the man chooses to have an orgasm (again, we're talking about consensual sex). Male pleasure can have consequences that a woman should not be expected nor asked to suffer.
Yet people don’t usually shame men for having an unrestricted number of sexual adventures, whereas women are relentlessly persecuted for it. She is expected to carry both the burden and the fault for unwanted pregnancies throughout the world. This is awfully unfair, given men’s actual role.
Some pro-life advocates (who are intent on forcing the woman to give birth) do place responsibility on the father, to the extent that they argue he should be involved economically and emotionally. At least, in theory. In practice, however, society is far more forgiving towards men than it is towards women. Men can walk away after a sexual encounter without ever even knowing they caused a pregnancy. Women can’t, regardless of what they decide to do afterwards. And let’s get something straight: neither abortion nor adoption is a desirable outcome for women.
As many of us know, there is clearly a double standard here, and -like most double standards- its absurdity is accentuated by the fact that it plays against precisely the wrong party. Perhaps anti-abortionists should strive to place far more responsibility on men and seek more regulation for them than women. After all, what anti-abortionists want is to stop abortions. The best way to do this is through the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, rather than through regulation of a woman's body. And the male is the one with the ability to actively cause pregnancies. So, giving men more of a burden to prevent them and more blame when they occur seems the right and sensible way to go about it.
Sure, there are birth control pills women can take. However, these are not always easy to obtain and have some serious side effects. The failure of a man to wear a condom is far worse (morally speaking) than the failure of a woman to take birth control pills, since condoms are much easier to obtain and use as contraceptives (given the male’s role in getting a woman pregnant). In fact, by these standards, the failure of a man to use any method for avoiding an unwanted pregnancy (including abstinence, for those who choose it) is worse than a similar failure by a woman. In every respect, it makes no sense to blame women by default.
But condoms are not 100% effective. Accidents do happen. Sometimes a pregnancy is no more a man’s fault (even though he’s the active cause) than a woman’s. The point is not to actually place all the blame on men, but to change our default attitude towards women. So, the next time you hear of someone who got accidentally pregnant, think twice before you automatically assume it’s her fault.
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