From the National Center for Men:
‘….Women now have the freedom and security to enjoy lovemaking without the fear of forced procreation….But men are routinely forced to give up control, forced to be financially responsible for choices only women are permitted to make, forced to relinquish reproductive choice as the price of intimacy.’
Above is an excerpt from the National Center for Men’s press release regarding their lawsuit, so-called ‘Roe vs. Wade…for Men‘ – not to be confused with the Hair Club for Men. This little gem alone is worth a rant or three, but here’s where my daddy hackles rise:
‘We will argue that, at a time of reproductive freedom for women, fatherhood must be more than a matter of DNA: A man must choose to be a father in the same way that a woman chooses to be a mother.’
Despite what Maury Povich would have us believe, fatherhood has precious little to do with genetics. As far as spotlights go, DNA’s is narrow and short-lived. An instant of chemical collaboration, a passing of notes in class, and the 15 milliseconds of fame is over.
And though my experience as a father is thus far limited, let me say that the contribution of DNA is the least challenging part of fatherhood.
The National Center for Men proposes that fatherhood is also about choice. Well and good. What, then, is our choice? The choice to ‘enjoy lovemaking without the fear of forced procreation’?
Where to start?
By its very nature, sex is enjoyable regardless of its outcome. Is anyone complaining? Enjoyment is not a choice – it simply…is. But I understand their point – how can one fully enjoy the act of lovemaking if conception is a very real possibility?
The answer must be self-evident, because people do it all the time. When it comes to sex, conception is always a possibility; that is its purpose. Even our most effective birth-control methods allow for a small percentage of ‘error’. Life is persistent, and we choose to ignore that. In this sense, a father’s choice begins and ends with his decision to have sex. Anything else is wishful thinking.
Which brings us to ‘fear’. To this, all men can relate. Children are intimidating, and more so when they’re your own. Even – especially – before they’re born, we fear. Our practical side fears for financial security, our paternal side for competence, and our selfish side for everything else. But fear, properly placed, is more often a strength than a weakness. Fear urges prudence and patience; fear demands discretion and foresight. Those without fear move without caution, and without thinking.
‘Forced procreation’? If only sperm were so easily intimidated.
Yes, fatherhood is a choice. It is a choice of accountability and maturity. It is a choice of love. I chose to change my son’s diapers, and to rush home during lunch for a snuggle. I chose to work, so that my wife and son could be together. I choose to take my son to the park, to bathe him, tickle him, feed him, sing with him, read books, tell stories, discipline, laugh, brush his teeth, pick his nose, and hug him when he’s sad.
We don’t choose our responsibilities, but we can choose to ignore them.