Many states including Georgia and Alabama are racing to overturn Roe v. Wade by introducing more restrictive abortion laws at the state level. These laws are mostly drafted, voted on, and enforced by men, but men don’t experience the real consequences of the legislation. Sure, in Georgia a man who helps a woman obtain an abortion could be sentenced to jail time, but it’s not likely. In Alabama any doctor might spend the rest of his (or her) life in prison for performing an abortion. But thus far no state has passed any law that would force men into performing the meaningful duties of fatherhood. Why is that?
Some women have proposed a Lysistrata-like sex strike to force men to consider the real consequences of these laws upon women. In other words, women should not have sex with men until these laws are off the books. That’s okay, but it puts the entire burden of sexual choice and sexual consequences onto women. I’m tired of being responsible for all of that. It isn’t fair. When a man chooses to have sex with a woman, he knows the potential outcome of that act. Every time a man has sex with a woman, he is saying yes to fatherhood. Let’s put that into action.
For decades women have chased equality by asserting we deserve the same rights as men—the right to make our own medical decisions, for example. But perhaps we’re going about it all wrong. Instead, we should enforce equality by giving men more responsibility and offering them fewer choices.
I propose that any man who has sex with a woman should be required by law to agree to raise a child from birth. Even if the men are very young and even if they aren’t particularly prepared for fatherhood, they may end up raising a child. This is the natural consequence of sexual activity. Not every man will be assigned a child to raise, but no man will be able to opt out of fatherhood unless he gets a vasectomy before his first sexual contact.
This would be simple to implement. When a man becomes sexually active, his name will be placed on a registry. Naturally, we’ll encourage men to self-report, but women will also place men on the registry after a single sexual encounter. A man may dispute his place on the registry. That’s fair. He’ll be removed as soon as he proves he’s a virgin and not a common man-whore. A lottery system will match children who need parents with the men on the list. The man will have six-to-eight months to make all the appropriate arrangements for his bundle of joy, including a safe home, child care, nutritional and medical care, clothing, future education, etc. The man will be required to nurture his child and provide emotional and financial support for the next eighteen years or so.
I know it’s a lot of work to raise a child and it’s expensive. So perhaps the courts will ask women who release their children to this system to provide some occasional financial support for the child, but that’s a hard thing to enforce and you can’t get blood from a turnip. Regardless, a lack of outside financial support will not absolve any man from his responsibility.
Of course there will be some exceptions. Men who partner with women with the goal of having children will be exempt from the lottery to place children in their care. But a man who separates from the biological family unit without taking custody of the children or a man who has sex outside the partnership at any point in his life, will remain eligible. This, I believe, is a compromise that should make everyone happy. It’s a way of making the consequences of sex equitable and isn’t that what everyone wants? For too long we’ve deprived men and boys the experience of meaningful, unplanned fatherhood.
You’re probably wondering about men who don’t want to be fathers or boys who aren’t ready to be fathers right now. But the answer is self-evident. All they have to do is refrain from having sex with women.
I know every right-thinking man in America will be thrilled for this level of sexual equality. After all, only an irresponsible jerk would turn his back on such an awesome opportunity.
I eagerly await the passage of this male-equality legislation from some forward-thinking state. Perhaps my old home state of Mississippi will take up the cause. It has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and unplanned pregnancy in the nation. Too many girls there end up raising kids on their own or with a minimum of paternal support. Wouldn’t it be great if just as many boys and men could experience the joys of responsible, unplanned single fatherhood?
It’s only fair.