Thursday, July 2, 1998
I'd like to respond to your recent article, "No Way, Daddy" by saying I wept for these poor male victims all the way to the bathroom, where I threw up! Talk about "Gag me with a spoon!!!" It sounded as if Tony, one of those victims of undeserved fate, and his extremely pious church-going family who taught him there's only one way to deal with "these little surprises," deserved to be given a medal simply because he admitted paternity. What a man! And then he even marries Sylvia. Wow, what a solution that was! The kicker was when he got the second woman pregnant (before he was divorced from Sylvia), once again victimized by an unrelenting universe's sick sense of humor...and once again a father to an unwanted child.
The truth of the matter is, it takes two to tango. Until each partner accepts responsibility for and becomes actively involved in preventing pregnancy, unwanted pregnancies will occur. Up until now, the decks have been stacked decidedly against women. They are the ones who have traditionally been responsible for preventing pregnancy, receiving shots, ingesting hormones daily, wearing little pieces of metal in their uteruses, inserting pieces of rubber in their vaginas, implanting rods in their arms, etc. etc. etc. One of the latest devices is the doughnut-shaped, steroid-releasing vaginal ring that requires insertion into the vagina only once a month! It is a bit ironic that while women are the receivers of the sperm, and men the injectors, that the women have been assigned the proactive role and men, the passive. Complacent might be a better word. Or even cavalier. My friend just whispered "arrogant."
My son, a young adult male, has an excellent solution. Why not make more varieties of male contraceptives available on the market? ("A condom is uncomfortable," he argues.) I agree. And we don't have to re-invent the wheel. Step up to the plate, guys (maybe a condom ain't as bad, after all!) and put out your scrotums and penises and arms and open your mouths. Don't allow scheming women who want your precious sperm to "use" you. Don't be "forced" to pay child support to care for the needs of "those little surprises."
I'm writing in response to the "No Way, Daddy" (June 18) article. I am 21, a single male, who while growing up had a single parent mom and a father I've hardly known. He paid all his child support faithfully 'til the day I was 18. As of about two years ago, I was having premarital sex and after a reckless trip up north to see my friends in college, I began to realize that some day I wished to get married and that all the girls I had sex with were one more person I had slept with, who wasn't my wife. Then I felt sick.
While reading the story I truly felt sorry for the young man Tony. While reading on, I came to the idea of Mr. Ehlenberger, that men should have a choice in parenting, that men should be able to make a deliberate choice in fatherhood. I felt less and less sorry for Tony. In sleeping with this girl, Tony did make a choice. Tony chose not to care about possible fatherhood, for 45 minutes of frolic.
The article said, they hope that it would make men and women talk more seriously about making a long-term commitment to a child by having some "men's right to choose." No way! It sounds to me that we're giving men an easy out from parenting. We should focus on making boys and girls, men and women to talk seriously, about how serious they are about each other before they talk about kids.
About Ed, how does his wife feel now that she knows there were women before her, and there are unknown children living without any knowledge of their father? Yes, the truth was bent in Ed's case but Ed should have realized that you shouldn't play with fire if you don't want to get burned.
In the article you also say, how about using a condom? Well, a condom is only about 80 percent effective against preventing pregnancy. The true fact is that there is nothing 100 percent except abstinence to prevent pregnancy. Every time men have sex, men make a choice, whether they know it or not.
My whole point is that, 'men: we need to realize what we're getting into when we get into bed with ladies other than a wife.' The consequences are serious and need to be dealt with responsibly. Be a part of a family, learn to love someone. Good family values don't start in Washington, DC. They start with us.
Men Always Have Choice
I must point out that men have always had more choice than women in most areas of life. The fact is that women always have been, are, and will continue to provide the majority of reproductive labor and to be the primary caretakers of children, with or without a father in the household. The vast majority of children living in single parent homes are living with mothers who do not abandon them even in extremely stressful situations. Gender equity does not exist and in most circumstances, it is women who are oppressed by this. When women have the same educational, economic, and social status as men, and are no longer subject to sexualized oppression (rape, harassment, battering), maybe it will be possible to discuss reasonably whether or not to give men equal rights in reproductive decisions which will forever inform the lives of women and children.
Let me summarize some of what I understood from "No Way, Daddy"
In spite of millions of known contraceptive failures:
1) Some people imagine that contraceptive failure only occurs when one of them has secretly plotted to have a child;
2) Because they and their partners did not discuss what they would do in the event of a contraceptive failure, some people imagine they are not responsible for the child, and someone else is;
3) Because they did not love or respect their partner, some people imagine that contraceptive failure would not happen to them;
4) Some people imagine that because they were behaving irresponsibly when they conceived a child, they were entitled to behave irresponsibly forever after;
5) There are people who had the delusion that if they did not discuss the consequences of contraceptive failure, everyone would agree on the best course of action afterwards.
6) There are people who assumed there would be no possibility of contraceptive failure if their sexual partner told them that their liaison would only result in fun and games.
7) There are people who believe that because they were behaving irresponsibly when they conceived a child, they are somewhat entitled to abuse the child.
After millions of contraceptive failures, no one should not have to say that these are all delusions. Even people who themselves know they were born as the result of contraceptive failure, seem to ignore that it could happen to them. We really want to delude ourselves, and then we cry when the delusions cause us pain.
Some people want us to believe another delusion. They want us to believe that they are not capable of behaving in responsible, non-exploitive ways. They want us to believe we are depriving them if we ask them to consider the possible consequences of their actions before problems occur.
In order to change, they probably first have to become aware of the damage their irresponsible, and/or heartless, and/or exploitive ways has made of their own and others' lives.
We, the community, have a responsibility to help each other develop heart strength and non-exploitive relationships. We need to find ways to be there for them when they are overwhelmed and are tempted to take the easy way or take out their problems on the former partners or unplanned children. Above all we must meditate, pray for, and support in every possible way, the children of parents who themselves want to be "eternal escape artists."
GRETA E NISSON
Clarifications and Corrections
A story in last week's news section stated that pieces of Cannery Row's San Xavier warehouse being stored at Fort Ord were available for anyone who wished to purchase them. Monterey City Planning Director Bill Wojtkowski says the pieces must be used by the new developer at the same site. Only if the present development project does not take place may the materials be used for another project.
Last week's "Squid Fry" included some incorrect info about the Monterey Bay Aquarium opening in 1984. Contrary to what Squid said, the Aquarium did not offer free admission until its fifth birthday celebration. Squid has been pounded into calamari for this error.
Lastly, if you received a copy of CW last week that appeared lacking in punctuation, doubt not the keen minds of our editors and proof-readers! The problem lies with the printing process, and steps are being taken to remedy the situation.