by Guy Whisper
Women have much more power in relationships than men do.
Not just by social convention (which, believe me, is power enough), not just because others are more sympathetic to their side of any story (which, believe me, is also more than power enough), but via the full weight and majesty of the law.
Let us construct, in our heads, a hypothetical scenario.
I shall use you and I as examples; just give some sense of the impact of these events on people’s lives.
Let us suppose that we meet, by chance, in some gathering place in some city where, at some time in the future, we both reside.
I am tall, handsome, muscular, well-dressed, and confident; you are pretty, intelligent, charming, and you get my jokes.
Nature takes its course.
About a year later, you decide that I am a good catch, the best of your available options, and you would like to be married.
You drop hints, but I demur. I like you well enough, but you want children and I do not. Not to mention that I am still considering my options and am unready to enter into any sort of lifelong pact.
(This is the branch point. This is where we tell the story of what you could legally do, were you so inclined.)
You simply stop taking your birth control pills, without a word to me. This is not a crime, because legally, I have no right to know. They are your pills, and it is your body.
After a couple of attempts which I did not know were attempts, you become pregnant. You may have attempted with other men as well. Let’s leave that matter unresolved for the moment.
You do not tell me until you start to show. This is also perfectly legal.
Once I figure things out, I offer to pay for half the termination procedure. You decline to undergo one. This, too, is legal. The law allows you the “right to choose”. I, however, have no such right.
I do a little snooping, and discover unused quantities of birth control pills in the bathroom cabinet. Since they come in those neatly dated little wheel-things, I am easily able to deduce the exact day you stopped.
I terminate our sexual relationship post-haste.
You are angry and accuse me of putting you in this delicate situation and then abandoning you. I demur, arguing that you placed yourself in this situation. Negotiations deteriorate.
I demand a paternity test, not feeling very trusting at this point. You refuse. You can do that. You have the legal right, it’s your body, I cannot force you to undergo amniocentesis.
You give birth to a daughter, and name her Zoe. I am named on the birth certificate as the father, simply because mine was the name you gave when they asked. I was not even there.
Now, I have refused to marry you. I still have that right, in most situations. (Look up “common-law” marriage, a law that allows a woman to force a man to marry her.)
So you legally demand that I provide you with the benefits of marriage anyway, to wit, a large portion of my income. You have the legal right to do this. It’s called “child support”.
In court, I demand a paternity test, but am denied one. You see, because I offered to pay for an abortion, I acknowledged the child as mine. And my name is on the certificate. And, most important of all, the very court that is ruling on the matter receives a cut of all child support payments. (Bet you didn’t know that, did you?)
Legally, the money is for Zoe, but the checks come to you, in your name. You can spend them however you like, with no oversight whatsoever.
I’m not even sure Zoe is mine.
Now I’m in a bad situation. But the story does not end here.
The tanking economy causes budget cuts, and my cushy job as an engineer at a major defense contractor is lost.
The only thing thing I can find to replace it is a job hawking cell-phones in one of those mall kiosks. This is not, however, grounds for reducing my child-support payments. The initial amount of them was determined by my income at the time, but legally, they are a right belonging to Zoe, and determined by Zoe’s need, so my income is not a factor.
Now I cannot pay. I am a “deadbeat dad”, according to society. And the newspaper my photo is published in. And the website my picture is posted on.
My failure to pay tanks my credit rating, too, with all its attendant woes.
The economy loosens up a bit, and I reapply to my old firm.
They’re keen to hire me, but they can’t. With a record of delinquent child support payments, I cannot pass the background check. Now my career is blighted, too.
Many years have passed at this point, and I’m in deep trouble. Broke, no career prospects, poor credit, spotty criminal record (failure to pay child support is a misdemeanor in some jurisdictions), depressed, no means or confidence to attract another woman even if I could ever trust one again.
But the story doesn’t end here.
Desperate, I manage to find some pretext to visit you, and I steal some of Zoe’s hair from her hairbrush in the bathroom. I pay for a lab test out of my meager remaining resources.
Zoe isn’t mine.
I take you to court, and lose. Yes, lose. Because I had already been paying child support, I am the publicly acknowledged father. (If you do not believe this could possibly happen, I sympathize. It’s crazy. But google “joseph michael ocasio” and prepare to be shocked.)
Okay, end of scenario.
Look where we are. My life is indeed ruined. At no point did I have any power to stop it (except by remaining celibate my entire life). At every point, what you did, you had the legal right to do. You didn’t have to “get away” with anything. You could write a book about it, and nothing would change, because it was all legal.
The only thing protecting most men from this fate is nothing but women’s lack of inclination to do this. They are entirely in her power.
Would you accept being in an 1700’s-style marriage, where your husband owned everything, and had the legal right to beat you, simply because he was a “nice guy and wouldn’t do that”?
That is precisely what men are being asked, no, expected, to accept.
Is it any wonder we are distrustful and suspicious to the point of paranoia? It’s our only defense. The law will not protect us. The law is against us, straight down the line.
Think about it. Try to imagine how that might feel.
When a man rapes a woman, it is against the law. When a woman rapes a man, the law is the instrument she uses.
A woman can name any man she likes as the father, he gets a letter in the mail, if he does not prove he isn’t the father within 30 days—(suppose the letter gets lost by the USPS?)—he is now the father and must pay. He cannot contest it.
A boy who is the victim of statutory rape must pay child support to his rapist.
A man who is raped while unconscious must likewise pay child support.
A man who fathers a child and wishes to take custody may have his child adopted out against his will.