Tuesday, March 31, 2015

In Favor of Legal Paternal Surrender

Legal paternal surrender (LPS) is the idea that men who unintentionally become fathers should be allowed to walk away from their paternal duties to the (unborn) child (i.e. child support), which would mirror women's right to walk away from their maternal duties via abortions. LPS would provide men with a legal equivalent to an abortion, which would give them the same sovereignty over their futures as parents (or as non-parents) that women have. This, I believe, would be more equal than our current system.

Now, because this topic is touchy and easily misunderstood, I would like to briefly clarify what LPS is not. LPS is not "spousal consent", wherein the mother can only abort if the father approves. Nor is it "forced abortion", wherein the mother is required to abort if the father demands it. LPS has nothing to do with the mother's right to abort; it simply says that men should have the right to refuse parenthood and walk away, as women already can. This means no child support, no duties whatsoever.

To reiterate: I am not arguing that the father should have the power to force a woman to abort her fetus or to keep it: I am arguing that the father should have the legally-protected right to completely sever ties to his future children, just as women can sever their future ties via abortion. It is still her body and her choice, but it's also his future, and I think he should have that choice, not her.

Her body and future, her choice. His future, his choice.

Legal paternal surrender is also a necessary freedom in cases where men are raped by women, just as abortion is a necessary freedom in cases where women are raped by men. Unfortunately, in our current system, male victims of female rapists are required to pay child support to their rapists, even when the male victims are under age, and this is unacceptable.

S.F. v. Alabama ex rel. T.M.
> Woman has sex with an unconscious man, gets pregnant, and wins child support.

1996 Case of Underage Boy being Raped
> 15-year-old boy is raped and is then require to support the resulting child. 

State of Louisiana v. Frisard
> Blowjob with a condom, woman inseminates herself, sues and wins child support. 

Hermesmann v. Seyer
> 13-year-old boy pays child support after being raped by is 17-year-old babysitter.

Legal paternal surrender has been discussed in many different ways and by a wide variety of people, so I encourage you to supplement this essay with some of the discussions linked below. Instead of reiterating these arguments, I will spend the rest of this essay responding to some common objections to LPS, which most of these discussions never mention.

An article which explores the history and arguments surrounding LPS

A detailed overview of some of the arguments on both sides of this isses

An analysis by a professor of philosophy and gender studies

A brief but well-written "ramble" on the issue

A dense, philosophical essay on parental rights and choosing parenthood

1. LPS would let men have sex all they want with no consequences, leaving pregnant women in their wake! How is that fair?

1a. This is actually a very reasonable concern, and it is a good objection to LPS as it has been presented. I agree that this needs to be addressed before LPS becomes the law. Indeed, I have become increasingly disappointed in many of the arguments in favor of LPS because they never answer this objection, and by that token, they end up arguing for a system in which women have to do all the work involved in getting an abortion, while men would simply have to sign a form and that's it, which is totally unfair to women.

So, in order to make LPS as fair as possible for men and women, I would like to propose some caveats to the process that men would have to go through, with the goal of mirroring the difficulties that the mother would have to go through for an abortion. The caveats I propose are as follows:

> The father could only sign the paperwork at an abortion clinic (if one even exists near him).
> The father would have to jump through the same hoops as the mother would have to (waiting periods, multiple visits, maybe an unnecessary probe of some kind, etc.)
> The father would have to pay a fee equal to the theoretical cost of an abortion at that stage of pregnancy, just as the mother would have to.
> The father would have to complete this process in the same timeframe as the mother would have to complete the abortion process: up to 24 weeks, and this timeframe would begin when the father learned about the pregnancy or, if the mother kept her pregnancy secret, when he learned about the child.

These are some heavy caveats, but I think they make the process as fair as it can possibly be, and I'm confident that most men would accept these caveats if it afforded them the right to choose parenthood. I would even go so far as to guess that most men would even agree to a few good kicks in the balls to balance out whatever physical procedure a woman would have to endure, again, if it allowed them to choose not to be parents.

I think this would be a fair situation (or at least, as fair as we can possibly make it), and I wonder if feminists might even support this because it gives men a "horse in the race", so to speak, regarding abortion laws and restrictions: it forces men to jump through the same hoops as women, so maybe, just maybe, they'd be a little more motivated to remove those hoops.

2. The child has the right to the financial resources it needs: the child's right to basic necessities outweighs any of the father's rights.

2a. This assumes that all single mothers are struggling and that they need child support payments to provide their children with basic necessities, which is simply not true: mothers who don't need the money still receive child support from fathers, so in those situations, there is no conflict between the child's rights and the father's rights: the father's money is being taken for the convenience of the child and the mother.

Besides, if financial support from a second party was always required, then it would be mandatory for every single parent to receive money from others to help raise their child.

2b. In cases where a single mother is struggling to provide basic necessities for her child, I think the state should assist her as a form of welfare, The funny thing is, the state has already shown that it is willing to pay 100% of what a child needs (Google "safe haven laws"), so why not simply tell the state go halfway for single parents who need financial assistance? Why does the state take money from the father (who, unlike the mother, never had the option to detach himself from the child) when the state was willing to pay for everything? Does the state's desire to save money really allow it to take what they need from non-consenting men?

And no, it's not a form of tax: it's targeting specific men for decisions they did not make.

2c. As long as we're taking men's money "for the good of the child", why don't we just take some of Bill Gates' money? That's a lot more practical, both for the man, and for the child, and Bill Gates is just as responsible for the mother's decision to keep the child as their fathers were, so why not take the child support from Bill Gates?

3. It's about biology! That just sucks for men, but at the end of the day, it's her body and her choice. Abortions do not derive from a right to opt out of parenthood, but a right of sovereignty over one's body.

3a. Yes, her body, her choice, but it's also his future, her choice. If a woman decides to keep the baby, that's her choice, and it should be her responsibility.

Consequently, I also think that if a mother gives birth and chooses to give the baby up for adoption, but the father wants to keep it, then that's his choice, and the mother should have no further obligation to the child or the father: not even child support payments. In our current system, a mother may choose to give away her new baby, but if the father keeps that baby, she may become liable for child support, not because of her choices, but because of the father's choice, and that's not fair either: let people take responsibility for their own choices, not for other's choices.

As you can see, my argument for LPS is also an argument against legally-required child support in situations where there was no prior agreement to raise the child in question. I'm not arguing against child support in its entirety, just when the mother or father never agreed to become a parent. This stands in contrast with situations where both parents have already committed to raising a child: you can't just change your mind once you already have a child established in your care, but if you never agreed in the first place, then you shouldn't be held responsible for it.

3b. Suppose I invented an artifical uterus that could carry a child to term. If you became pregnant but did not want to undergo pregnancy, you could instantly and painlessly transplant the embryo into the artificial uterus. Essentially, I'm asking you to imagine a world in which a person's body was no longer a necessary factor in human reproduction.

If this technology existed, would these same opponents of LPS be okay with a complete ban on abortions because it's no longer "her body", so she no longer gets a choice? Would they really be okay with requiring women to become financially responsible for a child just because a condom broke? I doubt it.

This objection to LPS also implies that the only valid reason to get an abortion is because you don't want to be pregnant and give birth. However, the most common reasons why women get abortions have nothing to do with their bodies. Usually, women get abortions because they don't want to be responsible for a child. E.g. "I can't afford a baby" or "I just don't want another child." If these reasons are valid for women who don't want to be parents, then why aren't they valid for men?

Survey of reasons for getting an abortion: http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/abreasons.html

4. If you're not ready to be a father, then wear a condom or don't have sex!

4a. This same argument was directed at women before Roe V. Wade: "if women don't want to get pregnant, they should just keep their legs closed". Feminists rightly called this "slut shaming", but those same feminists are oddly silent when it's men who are being slut shamed in the exact same way.


In our current system, consent to sex does not equal consent to parenthood, but only for women. And while it's true that biology curtails men's choice to have or not have biological children, it should not curtail their right to refuse involvement with those biological children.

ADDITION: 4/22/2015

I recently found one more article which touches on a similar point, and I think it's worth repeating here: if you give people a financial incentive to become single mothers (even through lying about contraception, which is not punished as a crime), surprise, you're going to get more single mothers.

"The Trust for the Study of Adolescence recently proved scores of teenage girls in Britain are deliberately becoming young mothers as a career move because, with the state and the father contributing, it offers more guaranteed security than a job.

Even 13-year-old girls admitted this, which might explain why Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe, at an annual government cost of nearly £63million.

Perhaps the law-makers need to think about radical action to break the cycle. Maybe men could be allowed to have a financial abortion from a child to which they didn’t pre-consent. In a specified time — say, legal abortion guidelines — men could be allowed to formally relinquish all monetary obligations, rights and responsibilities if duped into fatherhood. The woman still wants to proceed? Fine, that’s her choice. But not on his salary.

Controversial? Yes. But overnight we would see fewer acts of conception by deception. And that can only be a good thing — for men and for society."


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Emma Watson Doesn't Help Feminism

I'd like to make a point about a quote from Emma Watson's "HeForShe" speech in which she said the following:

"The more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop."

I think this demand of hers (that this view of feminism has to stop) is hollow and infantile, and I will explain why I think this using an analogous situation.

I'm an atheist, and I have been involved in atheist groups. Often times, one of the goals of atheist groups is to change peoples' negative opinion of atheists. Now, if I were concerned that the general public associated "atheism" with being mean and hateful, and I wanted that to change, I wouldn't get up on my soapbox and simply declare to the public, "You people need to stop viewing atheists as mean and hateful: that's not what atheism is about". The reason I wouldn't do this is because there are indeed atheists who are mean and hateful, so it's understandable that these atheists soil the name for the general public.

To counteract this view of atheists, I would (and have) organized an atheist charity event, or I'd host a polite inter-faith discussion to demonstrate that these topics can be calmly explored, or I'd just do what Hemant Mehta does and be "The Friendly Atheist", but I wouldn't just declare that everyone else needs to adjust their views: I would prove them wrong. In other words, I would show, not tell.

This is why I think Emma Watson's statement is hollow and infantile: it's a stand-alone demand that everyone else should stop thinking a certain way, rather than any kind of proof that their way of thinking is wrong. If Emma Watson wants to dissociate "feminism" from "man-hating", then she should do more than simply pay lip service to men's issues: she should actively advocate for battered men's shelters in the name of gender equality (I forget if Canada has one or zero men's shelters at this time), or she should join the fight for any number of legal provisions that would help men (legal paternal surrender, a gender-neutral "Violence Against Women Act", anti-circumcision laws, etc.), but she doesn't do these things, and she never has to my knowledge.

As such, she doesn't give us any reason to dissociate "feminism" from "man-hating", nor does she convince me that feminism is for men too. All she does is reinforce the view that feminists' brand of "equality" doesn't include men, and that she personally "is not like that."

Indeed, even "The HeForShe Commitment" which Watson promotes, reinforces the exclusion of men's issues from feminism: it claims that men's issues are also part of gender equality, but the commitment itself only addresses women and girls. Like Watson, the HeForShe commitment does not include men's issues when rubber meets the road.

If Emma Watson were truly concerned for both men and women's issues, then her commitment to "a human rights issue" would say this instead:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Can you Hate Men and Still be a Feminist?

Is misandry (hatred of men) at all related to modern feminism? Can a "feminist" also be a misandrist? Well, there certainly are self-identified "feminists" who do hate men, and who believe that it is a part of feminism. However, there are also self-identified feminists who don't hate men and who don't view those misandric feminists as "true feminists". They argue that feminism has no ties to misandry, and they dismiss the misandric "feminists" by saying:

"The problem isn't that many feminists are misandrists. The problem is how many misandrists think that they're feminists."

My question for these non-misandric feminists who make this argument is: how do you know that those misandrists aren't also feminists? How can you categorically exclude misandrists from feminism?

As feminists of all stripes constantly remind us, "feminism", by definition, is “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes", nothing more. However, this definition does not categorically separate feminism from misandry: it is entirely possible to believe that hating men is a step toward equality. After all, if women are being oppressed by men (via the Patriarchy), and because it's perfectly reasonable to hate your oppressors, then it is entirely possible (and I think true) that misandric feminists are rallying around their perceived common enemy (men) in order to fix the system those men support by simply being male. I think these misandrists think that they can achieve gender equality by this method, which, as we recall, would make them feminists by the given definition thereof.

Now, I am being hypothetical in my language because I can't see into the minds of these misandrists, so I can't be sure of their motives. However, I have encountered misandric, self-proclaimed feminists who do appear to desire equality by rallying around a hatred of men.

The problem for non-misandric feminists is that the dictionary definition of "feminism" which they so strongly insist upon only defines feminism by its goal (gender equality), not by the methods used to achieve that goal, which means that it is entirely possible for misandrists to be feminists by definition. In a sense, they've shot themselves in the foot by insisting on such a broad definition because it allows people they dislike to claim the title of "feminist", although some feminists freely admit that it is possible to hate men and still be a feminist ("to each her own").

There is one additional proof that misandrists can be feminists: multiple historical feminists, some of whom created modern feminist theories about patriarchy and rape culture, did indeed hate men, and yet, their feminism is hardly ever questioned.

“To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo.” – Valerie Solanas

“Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear” – Susan Brownmiller

“I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honourable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.” – Robin Morgan, Ms. Magazine Editor

It's one thing to have jerks (misandrists) in your community and to dislike their presence, but it's quite another thing for those jerks' opinions to be compatible with (if not directly supported by) your underlying ideology and its founders. Maybe these misandrists are just paying closer attention?

And yes, I am aware that this post is very similar to my previous post. This is because these posts start with the same basic idea (the fact that some feminists DO hate men), but they apply this idea to different topics, which is why I've made two separate, though similar, posts.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Feminists are Bad Comedians

"Atheists eat babies" is a joke: it mocks the idea that atheists are such horrible people that they would do something as reprehensible as baby-eating. In the same way, many modern feminists claim that their support of "misandry" and the statement that they "bathe in male tears" is also a joke, in this case, mocking the idea the feminists hate men, or that misandry even exists. Both of these ideas (atheists eat babies, feminists hate men) are designed to use exaggeration to create an incongruous picture of reality from an established starting point, and that's a solid formula for a good, poignant joke.

However, there is an important difference between these two jokes. Atheists have never been reported to eat babies, much less to have done such things as a direct result of their atheism, which is why "baby eating" is a joke: its stark incongruity with real-world atheism makes it funny.

Misandry among feminists is different. Misandry does not have the same kind of stark incongruity with real-world feminism as baby-eating does with real-world atheism. There are, and always have been, feminists who openly admit to hating men, which, as Jessica Valenti reminds us, is perfectly compatible with feminism: "But so what if we did [hate men]?"

“To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo.” – Valerie Solanas

“Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear” – Susan Brownmiller

“I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honourable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.” – Robin Morgan, Ms. Magazine Editor

More quotes available here.

Indeed, it seems that when feminists express misandry, it is a direct result of their feminist ideology: the idea that men are the oppressors and women are the oppressed, and it's okay to hate your oppressors. This eliminates any and all irony in the statement "feminists hate men" because it absolutely does happen, and it happens as a direct result of feminist theories. Imagine if even a small population of western, first-world atheists really did eat babies because, "there's no God to stop us!" Would the joke that "atheists eat babies" still be funny or poignant? I highly doubt it.

The supposed joke of "misandric feminists" cannot be compared with the joke of "baby-eating atheists" because misandric feminists actually exist, and are motivated by their feminist ideology. It's not even a joke at all: it's a very real phenomenon. Feminists may ironically "bathe in male tears", but everyone else thinks they're serious, and with good reason.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

When MRAs act like Feminists

I often disagree with modern feminists, but one of the reasons I don't throw my lot in with MRAs (even though I agree with them much more frequently) is because they sometimes register the same silly complaints as feminists, just for men instead of women. Or, if their complaints aren't silly, then they aren't very important in light of other, more serious and more solvable, legal problems that men face. I find myself asking them the same question I ask feminists: "Is this really the forefront of your war? If so, you've won the important battles: just go home."

One example of this comes from the Facebook page "Discrimination Against Men", which recently expressed its outrage over an Instagram campaign to "Reverse the Male Gaze", which feminists praised because it 'gives men a tase of their own medicine', as it were: 'Let's see how YOU like being stared at and objectified in public!" The comments on this post expressed a similar dislike for the campaign.

But hang on, if the purpose of this campaign is to show men how bad it feels to be gazed upon in public, then doesn't getting mad about it actually prove the feminists' point?

"How do YOU like being 'male gazed' in public?"
"I don't like it at all!"
"Exactly, and neither do women."

You know what I say? Let 'em take pictures! Let 'em look at me! If I'm in public, then people are allowed to look at me and yes, take pictures of me. You think I care? You think I'm "oppressed" by this? I'm not, and neither are you.

George Orwell's "Animal Farm" becomes relevant once again:

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sincerely Defying Gender Roles

In my conversations with self-proclaimed feminists, many of them have made it clear that one of their goals is to eliminate gender roles and gender stereotypes (henceforth noted as "GR/S"). They also occasionally claim that eliminating some GR/S (i.e. negative female ones) will eliminate ALL GR/S. A famous example of this was Emma Watson's "He for She" speech at the United Nations, in which she said,

"We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes, but I can see that they are, and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled."

Interestingly, this presents a viable alternative strategy: if you think that speaking out against one subset of GR/S will eliminate ALL GR/S, then does it really matter which ones you speak out against? Couldn't you just as easily attack positive female GR/S and negative male GR/S and still accomplish your goal? Why do feminists only attack negative female GR/S if they believe that all GR/S are joined at the hip? This gives off the impression that they only want the good stuff for women, and that their movement is self-serving.

Heck, if you really want people to know that your fight against all GR/S is sincere, then you should attack the positive stereotypes about women (women are better parents, women are better communicators, women are tidier) and the negative stereotypes about men (men are stupid, men are malicious, men are unemotional, men are sloppy). Not only would that accomplish your goal of eliminating GR/S, but it would also prove your sincerity beyond a reasonable doubt. And yet, most feminists seem to only attack negative female gender roles and positive male gender roles... which makes me wonder: are they really sincere in their fight against gender roles, or do they just want women to be rid of the bad ones while keeping the good ones?

Lisa Simpson: sincerely defying gender roles.