A Man's Right to Choose - A Feminist Issue?
A Man's Right to Choose - New York Times
NOBODY is arguing that we should let my friend who impregnated his girlfriend off the hook. If you play, you must pay. But if you pay, you should get some say. If a father is willing to legally commit to supporting and raising the child himself, why should a woman be able to end a pregnancy that she knew was a possibility of consensual sex? Why couldn't I make the same claim - that I am going to keep the baby regardless of whether she wants it or not?
Well, you might argue that all the man provides is his seed in a moment of pleasure. The real work consists of carrying a child for nine months, with the attendant morning sickness, leg cramps, biological risks and so on.
But how many times have we heard that fatherhood is not about a moment, it is about being there for the lifetime of a child? If we extend that logic, those 40 weeks of pregnancy - as intense as they may be - are merely a small fraction of a lifetime commitment to that child.
The bottom line is that if we want to make fathers relevant, they need rights, too. If a father is willing to legally commit to raising a child with no help from the mother he should be able to obtain an injunction against the abortion of the fetus he helped create.
To what extent are policies that seemingly curtail the rights of the woman (such as the veil, conscription or child custody rights) actually a feminist issue. It might be argued that many of these 'rights' (not to be ogled, drafted, or deprived of child custody) in fact only promote the strict gender-role symbolism (women are women are objects, they are weaker, they are naturally suited for child care) that underlies the system of inequalities.
It might seem hard to promote the rights of bigoted fathers but to give men certain rights (perhaps short of preventing an abortion) might also shift the symbolic balance of gender-based discourse, giving women a real right to make choices about their lives.