Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A comment on Audrey's abortion post

I've been reading Audrey's excellent blogs on abortion and women's rights and the massive fuckbags who congregate around the abortion debate like gravid blowflies over a dentist's chair, dropping nascent maggots into your open mouth while your nerve-endings get drilled.
I find it pretty difficult to become too upset about these foolish fools, partly because abortion isn't a controversial issue for me, but mostly because women like Audrey and Colleen Hartland are already out there, fighting the good fight with more heart and information than I'll ever have.

But one aspect of the pro-choice camp gives me pause every time I hear it. Not until it was articulated by Audrey, an then reiterated by a commenter, Lycanthrope, on Audrey's latest post, that I figured out what troubles me about the whole debate.

"We men will never know the dread of unwanted pregnancy, nor the confusion or gut wrenching decisions surrounding the choice of whether to terminate the pregnancy or not."

True, we don't, and never will, have the physical experience of unwanted pregnancy (and, by all accounts, will never want to either). But I think men do have a huge fear of unwanted p
regnancy in our sexual partners, precisely because the decision is out of our hands.
Once a sexual partner (one-night-stand or loved wife) announces she is pregnant we have two outcomes and two choices from each.

1. She decides to terminate the pregnancy. The man's two options are:
A. Relief. He didn't want to be a father at that stage in his life and he's glad the woman made the right decision for herself and for him too.
B. Grief. He believes abortion is wrong wrong wrong. He ruins his own life and perhaps the woman's with guilt and rage. No way would he have offered to raise the child himself, but he will never again be able to stand by his heartfelt beliefs about abortion, women's bodies, sexuality, life and religion ever again because he helped kill a child.

2. She decides to keep the baby. This is where it becomes interesting. The man's two options are:
A. Terror. He doesn't want to be a father. He wants no part of the life he helped create and because of this he is either going to honour his minimal legal obligation of financial support for the next 18 years or become a slimy criminal, dodging responsibility and any semblance of true manhood for the rest of the child's life. He will have to get used to the fact that someone who could and should love him as their dad will probably either outright despise him or at least feel troubled about his existence and maybe relationships in general for their entire lives.

B. Resignation. He tries his hardest to be a good father - supportive, caring, attentive and present. But it's not how he pictured it, especially if his relationship with the woman doesn't last. He always wanted any offspring he had having two loving parents who were there for them; not one who wanted them, despite the feelings of the other, who didn't, but made the best of it anyway because he didn't have a choice.

Those are a man's options for an unwanted pregnancy when contraception fails.

I'm not attempting to make a case for letting men have a say in abortions.
I will never be convinced that abortion is anything other than the woman's choice alone.
I'd just like to think out the man's side of the abortion story, because how are we to be men if we don't talk with and
understand women? Lots of the pain listed above could have been avoided if the man had talked with the woman before having sex, because if a man is to have any self-respect he will take responsibility.

And now, to lighten the mood somewhat, or completely ruin it all together, an old favourite from the slightly-misleadingly-titled Sinfest.


  1. Franzy, what a great post.

    "I'd just like to think out the man's side of the abortion story, because how are we to be men if we don't talk with and understand women?"

    I appreciate that a man's position can often seem irrelevant when it comes to abortion and in my own small way I don't make that any easier by writing enraged posts telling them to back off.

    I do think though that there's a big difference between having reservations/wondering about where you fit in/feeling grief and so forth and getting up on a moral high horse to tell women that not only is their choice wrong but that somehow they are deficient in humanity.

    Unfortunately it's true that some men are 'trapped' into raising children they didn't want because they don't have a say in the abortion process. But I'd wager that the numbers of men who are told to suck it up because they knew the consequences of sex etc etc etc are still far smaller than the numbers of women whose sexual activity is condemned because they chose abortion.

    Great post though xo

  2. hmmm... i don't necessarily think that abortion is a woman's choice alone. the opinion of the 'father' can be taken into consideration when making the decision, but i see your point and yes, the decision ultimately does lie with the pregnant woman. though in saying that, i do think the bloke in question is entitled to an opinion... but yeah, it's tricky cause i guess if he has too much of an opinion, he's gonna get a smackdown.

  3. Audrey - Ah! Thank you! I totally agree that the difference of experiencing an unwanted pregnancy between a man and a woman is vast and not traversable. I don't think your posts telling opinionated men trying to control women's bodies to piss off make it any harder for men to have their own feelings about the pregnancy they've helped create/cause/make.
    I just more wanted to articulate further what a man feels when an unwanted pregnancy shows up and show that if he wants to continue feeling like a real man that it's not all sunshine, roses and getting to tell the woman exactly how she should run her body. There's genuine dread and fear. I'm not comparing it to or rating it alongside a woman's experience of it, but it does exist, and part of that fear is based in his powerlessness in the situation. I'm not saying boo-hoo for new daddy, what I am saying is that not only is contraception a man's responsibility if he doesn't want to get a girl pregnant, but so is further communication about exactly what and how the consequences of what he's doing if he wants to avoid sitting around chewing his nails and wondering if his life's about to change forever with zero he can do about it.

    And you're right, there probably aren't too many of these guys around, but it's still something interesting to me and worth a little blog now and then.

    Mars - Yes, I suppose in an ideal situation the decision to abort would take into account the father's feelings on the matter - who wants to raise a child whose father didn't want them, etc etc. But there's a big fat line between the feelings of the father and any old random bloke not involved at all shouting from the steeple or letters page that all pregnant woman HAVE to sacrifice their lives because it's the god honest thing to do. That feller deserves a smackdown.

  4. "what I am saying is that not only is contraception a man's responsibility if he doesn't want to get a girl pregnant"

    make that "if he doesn't want to get a woman pregnant" and I completely agree with you.

  5. I got pregnant age 19 which resulted in me being a mother at the age of 20. Obviously now I have that child I can't in retrospect say I regret what I did. I do wonder how I was so stupid though

    That same child who is now 14 was telling me yesterday about the health ed shows they watch at school. 'And then he put a leech on his arm and it sucked blood from his arm like for ten minutes and he said the leech was just like an embryo, it was soooooooooooo gross!'


    Anyway what am I saying...I don't know but certainly well done to those people who are pro-choice and really sometimes it's hard to believe this debate is still going in this day and age

  6. Rebekka - Arg. Zing. I sometimes wonder about the contextual differences between 'girl' and 'woman' when I tend to call teenagers 'young women' and my mum calls her peers 'the girls'. But obviously I don't wonder that often. Blogworthy?
    I definitely agree that a pregnant female might closer to being a woman than a girl though.

    Squib - Have you seen 40 Year Old Virgin? Reminds me of that hi-larious scene where the mother is screaming at her daughter not to have sex before college.
    It is an excellent question though, how can you both call having a child at a young age stupid and yet not regret it one tiny bit? And how do you explain that paradox to your kids? Ummmmmm ....

  7. Franzy, this is a great post from you and is most definitely worth more future articles both as a parallel to Audrey and to reflect the male view.

    I'll add another view - female yes, but long-married. When we decided we wanted to 'try' for a baby, it was the weirdest change for both of us. Since our teens and becoming sexually active (in our own separate spheres/lives/relationships then), becoming pregnant or making a girl/woman/girlfriend pregnant was our biggest fear.

    For us, AIDS emerged a bit later, and condoms were seen as being needed for two reasons now, instead of one - no babies, and no dying, to put it shamelessly simply.

    However when we were open to the idea of seeing if we could make a little person, we were both so confused - it felt so naughty and irresponsible and was literally reversing the behaviour of about fifteen years.

    When the great news arrived and the wee on three sticks revealed that yes, a tiny little pink prawn was growing inside of me, we still had that fear. Even when it is wanted, dreamed about and the sheer amazement of what the body can do sinks in, it remains terrifying.

    Abortion, adoption, early-parenthood, single parent hood, planned parent hood, surprise older parent hood. It's all f**king terrifying and there's guilt, confusion and choices being made from all sides.

    Not sure what my point was now....

  8. I haven't seen 40 Year Old Virgin no

    But my 14 year old said she is 'scarred for life' as the health ed show also featured people 'doing it' and the man with the leech was also holding a petri dish and proudly saying, 'This is my sperm'.

    It's put her off for life. Thank goodness for that :)


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32