Gabriel turns Two: Happy Birthday Sweet Boy

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Unplanned Fatherhood: Men & Abortion

Recently on the ooze, an article was written by Kimberly B. George, called TO CHRISTIAN MEN: Letter from a Feminist. The writing is precise, balanced and compassionate -- a call to engagement with the weaknesses as well as the strengths of historic feminism.

The write-ins in the comments section range from open-minded and grateful to vitriolic voices equating feminism with abortion rights. I'm not even sure why abortion is considered a women's issue. It is a couple's issue, human issue, and a social issue.

Yes, pregnancy happens within a woman's body. Look though, the critical facts related to abortion are connected with a couple, culture and society

First of all, consider how a woman finds herself with an unintended pregnancy: unless she stole sperm from the daddy bank and used a turkey baster, a man participated equally in the action. Her egg did not impregnate itself. Yet like the woman Jesus finds about to be stoned for being caught in adultery, I wonder, what of the guy's responsibility? He gets to run away while she gets stoned?

I think not.

Yet to equate feminism with abortion is pretty much a modern equivalent of stoning the woman and letting the man run off with mild encouragement to use a condom next time -- and if the guy's a Christian, perhaps his "brother" hands him a copy of Joshua Harris's I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Let me ask you a question:

What would abortion statistics look like if men took 100% responsibility for either practicing abstinence or safer sex, and for being a present, involved Dad if a pregnancy results despite safest sex practices?

Mothers, fathers and churches: Are you as hard on boys as girls when it comes to sex and unexpected parenthood? Do you equally encourage your young men to be responsible in their sexual conduct as well as to step up and be good, active Daddies if an error occurs and someone with whom your son is involved becomes pregnant? Or would you pressure your son to get the girl to give the baby up for adoption or otherwise "make it go away" so as not to ruin your son's future? A woman's ability to choose life is closely tied with her opportunity to have a partner in caring for that life.

I don't know very many women who would abort their babies if they knew they could count on their partner to be accepting, available and supportive through the pregnancy and in the ongoing raising of the baby into adulthood. I am not implying the boy and girl should rush into marriage - only that that they commit to sharing the responsibility of being good parents to the child they created together.

I want this: before a guy judges a woman about abortion, I wish he would ask himself, "If I got a girl pregnant when I was ---- age old, would I be a supportive partner-in-parenthood from conception through college and beyond?

If not, I wish this guy would shut his trap, preferably permanently -- or at least 'til he has repented and become ready to receive and offer grace, which is all we have, anyway.

All you guys out there who've been through unplanned daddyhood and been there for your kids and your partner, I give you credit.

God knows, we need Young Father mentors, just as much as we need crisis pregnancy centers and other support sources for girls and women experiencing an unintended pregnancy.


Pistol Pete said...

Passionately put. You pose a tough challenge about a man being willing to become an unplanned father before opposing abortion. As fathers, and men in general, our role should not be to verbally abuse women about abortion - but to contribute our love, time, attention, money, etc..., to see that they are provided a choice better than abortion.

Shawn said...

Right on, Jemila! For some reason, it is reduced to a woman's issue. Why? I'm not sure. I believe it is a conglomeration of couple, social, culture, and human issues. Much the same way promiscuity is celebrated when attributed to males (studs!) and turned scarlet when associated with females (sluts). yes, it's wrong, but where does this biased attribution come from? Religion? Society? Family of Origin? Couples? Education? All of it? Maybe.

Many, many men get a pass - or a perceived pass - by simply offering to "pay for" the abortion of an unplanned pregnancy. He does not, however, have to go through the emotional and spiritual aspects of the event. Why not? He is as intertwined in the act of procreation as is the woman. Yet, he feels separated enough to actually believe that coughing up some cash will free him of all emotional and spiritual responsibilities. It's not right, and he should know as much.

How do we reach him when his worldview is informed by so many different sources (i.e., Religion, Society, Family of Origin, Couples, Education, All of it)?

We, as Christians, could actually help rather than harm people who have gone through this by extending love and grace rather than the judgment we have become known for.

Great post, Jemila!

Shawn A.

Shane Vander Hart said...

You are right that men need to be challenged to take up responsiblity, to practice abstinence and to stop treating women like they are a piece of meat.

In other words, young men need to be taught to be gentlemen. I love Joshua Harris' book, though I do not agree with all of it, I appreciate that men are encouraged to be noble, and the challenge that our current dating system is inherently selfish.

Good post, and good challenge.

Shane Vander Hart

Jemila Kwon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jemila Kwon said...

Pete, I know it is a tough challenge and that is what breaks my heart -- it is considered a tough challenge for a young man to step up to fatherhood, and if he doesn't he was young, or a guy -- whereas a woman is emblazoned with so many killer labels if she can't or doesn't step up -- there's got to a compassionate challenge in the middle for both sexes when it comes to unexpected humanity.

On a side note, what if humanity itself, is/was a surprise Creation for God via natural process innate to God's Creative being ala evolution? And if the flood really happened in some form couldn't that be considered an abortion of humanity, which God later came to repent of?

Of course these are all random speculations.

Shawn, good points all. I think we have this idea that motherhood is supposed to be instinctual for a woman, whereas it is thought of as more of an acquired skill for fathers. A person is considered, at least in Christian circles and probably in much of the social unconscious, to be a invalid/inferior as a WOMAN if she doesn't feel compelled to be a mother, whereas it is thought normal for a young guy not to feel ready to be a father. Some of this may have biological reasons that have been culturally amplified and calcified, to the point of oppressive generalization and sexism toward both men and women. It is interesting that in the secular sphere so many women are PRESSURED to have abortions in the name of feminism, and yet I think this pressure comes largely from a sensed need to overcome that massive PRESSURE from the weight of biology, history and society for a woman to bear the full consequences of the sexual union and the ensuing child, at cost of herself and her dreams, while the man continues fooling around with women, living his own life and in many cases enjoying both public respect and a great career.

Shane, I agree that as a generalization real equality between the sexes would involve men raising their standards rather than women lowering them. I was being tongue-in-cheek about I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I am happy if it has helped you or someone you know. However, it was such a fad at my college but did little to actually increase honor and gentlemanliness among boys and alot to increase guilt and judging among girls.

Dagney said...

Great blog! I found you in a round-about way, and love your intelligent, thoughtful comments.

I have long struggled with the abortion issue, and also believe it is a disservice to women to make this solely a women's issue. In our current culture, where usually most of the burden of an unplanned pregnancy falls on a woman, and a majority of those in poverty are single mothers, where is this elusive "choice?"

So, how do we raise our expectations of men?

Jemila Kwon said...

Hi Dagney -- thank you for coming by!

Great question. Well I think it begins with eliminating the implicit double standard for boys and girls, men and women. Instead of a reactive feminism that says, "Go be a slut just like the guys," we need a compassionate consciousness raising whereby women and men are equally ingrained with the importance of self and other respect, self-control and appropriate precautions in intimate relationships.

I think a good litmus test, outside any particular sectarian agenda would be,

"don't have sex unless you are ready to be a parent or be supportive through a pregnancy and adoption process if birth control fails.
I actually have a new blog -- love to talk more.


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