There’s an interesting, albeit heartbreaking, lawsuit in the United States right now. The National Center for Men is suing on behalf of Matt Dubay, claiming his constitutional rights have been violated because he’s being forced to be the father to a daughter he didn’t want.
Put aside the fact, for a minute, that this guy is a class one jerk. What if, as I am increasingly beginning to believe, he is legally in the right? Not morally, mind you, but legally. Our legal system says that women have the right to choose whether or not to have a child, almost up to the moment of that child’s birth, regardless of the father’s feelings on the matter. She can then abandon that child, and face no penalties, providing she does so at a safe place. Men cannot abandon their children. If they are sued for child support, they must pay. Something doesn’t add up.
If Dubay wins his case, everything is going to hit the proverbial fan. Can you imagine what will happen to child support payments and child poverty? And if American courts find in his favour, Canadian ones won’t be far behind. But this disastrous potential doesn’t negate the fact that perhaps we have made it too easy for women to dispose of babies, and that this is the root of the problem, not the inequity between men and women when it comes to parenthood.
We claimed that reproductive choice is integral to women’s rights, but, regardless of one’s stance on abortion, it must be clear that the logical ramification of these rights is that men would have no obligation over the children they father. If women can dispose of children, why can’t men? Before we had such choice, if a woman found herself “in trouble” men tended to step up to the plate. It clearly wasn’t her fault. Today it is. She could have chosen to get rid of the baby. If she doesn’t, it’s her problem. Is this state of affairs really in women’s best interests?
We told women they could behave just like men—you can have casual sex, have fun, do whatever you want and have no consequences! It’s Hugh Hefner’s dream. Many men have been eager to go along with the program. What surprises me is that women have, too.
Is this really what women want? I don’t think so, and when it comes right down to it I don’t think it’s men’s dream, either. Our society acts as if sexual pleasure were the pinnacle of earthly fulfillment, but I don’t think that’s true. I think true intimacy—of which sexual pleasure may play in an important part—is far more important, and that intimacy cannot develop outside of the context of a committed, loving relationship. How can you truly share yourself if you aren’t sure if the other person is going to stick around, or if they aren’t really interested in who you are, but only in what you can do for them? We’ve abandoned emotional relationships for fleeting encounters, and I don’t think either gender is the better for it.
I know a man in a live-in relationship that he says is ideal. Neither makes any demands on the other. They can come and go as they please. I don’t doubt that he’s happy. But I do wonder if he’s missing out on something deeper. Isn’t part of the human experience supposed to be becoming vulnerable to a certain few people who will love you and stick with you for life? Isn’t it supposed to be allowing that experience to stretch you, to change you, to impact you, rather than just keeping “doing your own thing”?
Too few people will ever get to experience that kind of intimacy, and our children, like Matt Dubay’s daughter, will lose out. Our social customs now state that men have no moral obligation to the women they sleep with, that fathers are superfluous, that women can do it on their own, and that most men are boors. We now envision the genders not as completing one another but as competing for who can get the most out of each encounter. Why should we be surprised when someone like Matt Dubay comes along? The only thing I’m surprised about is that it hasn’t happened sooner. God help our children.
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