December 11, 2005

Choice for men and contribution

This occurred to me this morning as a data point that should not be overlooked when thinking about choice for men.

Guys, our contribution to making a baby is roughly equivalent to squeezing some toothpaste out of the tube. There's a long tradition in the West of the mother as incubator -- she just kind of keeps our semen nice and warm while it forms itself into a new baby. You can find this in Aristotle, actually, and I think the Bible has some passages that make it sound like pregnancy is just kind of waiting around for the baby to show up. But this is completely bullshit.

As any woman who has been pregnant or any obstetrician can tell you, pregnancy can be a pretty rough nine months. Quite a bit of a mother's energy and nutritional resources go into the new baby, and, along with a hormonal rollercoaster that makes puberty seem like a walk in the park, pregnancy introduces a fair amount of physiological stress in the form of pushing the centre of gravity a good distance in front of the centre of balance. Plus there's the whole 'push a bowling ball through a tube the size of a nectarine' thing that's called labour for a reason.

Once fertilization has occurred, a man has contributed pretty much all he really can to the baby-making. Midnight trips to the store for pickles and peanut butter are incidental. But her job is just getting started, and it's buying into the ridiculous, paternalistic notion that a mother is just an incubator for your seed to think you can get some say over what happens to that pregnancy without trampling over her basic right to bodily integrity. A pregnant woman is the only person who gets a say over whether and when to abort because she's the one who's going to do 99% of the work. Squeezing out our little glob of toothpaste is necessary to get things started, but there's nine months of hard work between a passionate embrace and the first time a new pair of lungs breathes air.

1 comment:

Joy said...

This was good! I'm passing it along to my new-parent friends.