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Should men proved to be not the biological parent have to support a child regardless?
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Started by cassieB at 06:10pm Nov 3, 2000 BST

See below.

cassieB - 06:10pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#1 of 66)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) --- A new state law that took effect Friday allows a man to sue to end his child support payments if genetic testing proves he is not the father.

"Ohio no longer rewards mothers who lie about who the father of their baby is," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Peter Lawson Jones.

Like most states, Ohio had relied on a 500-year-old English common-law doctrine presuming a man is the legal father of any child born to his wife during their marriage. The doctrine existed because in medieval England a child shown to be illegitimate would have virtually no rights.

Family court Judge Yvette McGee-Brown said the previous law had its benefits because it allowed only a year for men to challenge paternity.

"The longer a man delays the harder it will be to find the real father," she said.

Proponents of the new law included men who missed the one-year deadline because they were misled into believing they had fathered their ex-wives' children. They can now ask a court to stop support payments and waive arrears.

Opponents of the change argued that judges still should be able to protect the child's interests by maintaining a support obligation even if a DNA test disproved paternity.

According to the National Association of State Legislators only Colorado, Iowa and Louisiana have passed similar paternity laws. Most states have policies like one in California to forbid "inquiries into the child's paternity that would be destructive of family integrity and privacy."

Dennis Caron, 44, testified before a Senate committee in support of Jones' bill. Caron got a DNA test after his divorce that he said proved he wasn't the father of a boy he thought was his son.

He sued to end paying child support after his ex-wife cut off his contact with the child, but a judge refused to lift his obligation and jailed him for contempt.

After an eight-year legal battle, Caron is now suing his ex-wife for fraud in an attempt to collect over $100,000 in past support payments and legal expenses.

Geraldine Jensen, president of the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support, says Ohio has caught up with science.

"We have women that are separated but not divorced who become pregnant by another man during the separation," she said. "Under the old law, the court was bound to list the man she was still married to as the child's father."

Critics say the new law will disrupt children's lives and ruin families financially. Officials said it also will cost the government an undetermined amount of money to pay for DNA tests and legal work involved in welfare cases, in which county agencies rely on child support as reimbursement.

"The deception causes more disruption in the long run," Jones argued.

The Legislative Budget Office, while acknowledging the lack of precise records, predicts that fewer than 1,000 men will successfully challenge support orders each year in Ohio under the law . --


rshowalter - 06:44pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#2 of 66)  | Delete

1. 1000 men in Ohio is a LOT.

2. I think the post shows that a lot of men DO feel intensely about paternity. Very intensely. And it is an issue where most men feel much the same, and feel a common sense of outrage when they hear of men being betrayed by their wives by bearing children not their own, unknown to them, within the framework of their marriage.

3. I think, as I've said in the Tribal or Women's Rights thread, that concern about paternity is THE fundamental motive for male imposed rules subordinating and policing women, and feel that, for true sexual equality, male concerns about paternity ought to be adressed.

3. I don't know how the compromises ought to be done in the case of a child already born, or a pregancy well along. In a stable marriage, the child should be supported. In the case of a broken marriage, the argument for not supporting the genetically unrelated child are much stronger.

4. But I'd add that, to me, the male concerns involved here deserve respect. I feel that the "forsaking all others" vow in marriage, whatever else it means, ought, as a mimimum, to mean that a woman doesn't ask a husband to support a child not genetically his, except in the case of a second marriage, or in a case where the child was concieved, for instance in a case of infertility, for a reason the husband agrees to.

I think the arguments for fidelity at times where the DECISION to have a child is being made are aesthetically and morally compelling. And I believe that children, as a matter of morality, should be planned and hoped for, if at all possible.

Even if fidelity fails, care on the part of women (birth control, morning after pills) seems a very reasonable thing to ask for.

As a minimum standard, I think it would make sense, if it became at all technically reasonable to do, to have genetric testing early in pregnancies, and to abort fetuses not genetically related to the husband, at the wife's discretion if the matter were secret, or if the husband wanted it done.

I have some aesthetic reservations about early term abortions, but in my view, the moral difficulties of having a man support a child not his own are much, much greater.

cassieB - 06:51pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#3 of 66)

Surely, misleading a man as to the paternity of his child takes a close second to falsely accusing him of rape. A woman who does this effectively condemns this man to a lifetime of providing for a cuckoo. All biological/social advantage to her and her offspring and none to him. Anyone interested in the philosophy of justice would shrug their shoulders at the US- estimated rate of 25% false paternity. Now men have the wherewithal to determine how they should use the precious resources of their one and only life, why the ambiguity?

All men. Look long at the statistics, then take a long hard look at your own children. Testing is the future, at best it provides peace of mind, at worst, you won't drain your life away providing for Joe Blogg's sprogg at the expense of your own like a good birdie.


rshowalter - 06:59pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#4 of 66)  | Delete

If the number for false paternity is anything close to 25% in America, it is no wonder that there's a gaping distance between the feelings of men and women on many subjects, and men are uneasy. If "equality of the sexes" has this price, most married men will be bitterly against it, and I can't blame them.

As women's status goes up, so that sex is not the same social burden and operational limit that it was before, their most primal levels of sexual responsibility must go up, so that the core REASONS for the old restrictions are taken away, insofar as possible.

Most men, I think, would be reasonably tolerant of infertile sexual union by their wives, though you can't expect them to be happy about it. Practically none would be anything but wrenched at their wives conceiving with another man. I'd call that maybe 100 to 1000 times more serious.

I don't know about how the question might be put, but I bet that most men, facing either the abstract question or the personal choice, would much prefer an early term abortion to the responsibility to raise a child, not genetically their own, under fraudulent circumstances. My bet is that, in the face of that alternative, objections to early term abortion would pale to insignificance for most, and maybe almost all, men.

I'd feel that way.

macnurse - 07:06pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#5 of 66)

Surely the answer is "no - a man proved not to be the biological should not have to support the child regardless".

Ah, but what about cases where the couple have conceived a child using artificial insemination, due to the infertility of the wannabe father? Then, if the pregnancy has been planned with the mutual consent of both parents, the man who is not the biological father does have an obligation to the child. This is stirring faint memories of a recent-ish trial, here in the UK, I think. Anyone got a better memory than me?

cassieB - 07:11pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#6 of 66)

If the man agrees fair enough Macnurse. (If he wants to assume responsibility for a thousand--- likewise)

Note.... not the point of the discussion though.

macnurse - 07:20pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#7 of 66)

Ah well - try to focus on the first part of my post then.

hoib - 07:24pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#8 of 66)

WOW! A true conundrum.

All my kids (4) exhibit more than ample traits and appearance that leave no doubt they're mine...wish they were more like their mother in fact.

Yet don't we have a larger need to consider the problem of children-in-general, whether they asked to be born or not?

Women are endowed with the ability to have "random sex" almost at will.

Male unwonted lust is called rape. In females we call it seduction. Granting that the former is light years more barbaric than the former...where do the innocent results of either look for emotional and physical parenting?

cassieB - 07:24pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#9 of 66)

#7 So, Population-wide tests of paternity should be conducted in the interests of fairness then? And no'one has any logical complaint against this?

cassieB - 07:26pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#10 of 66)

>>All my kids (4) exhibit more than ample traits and appearance that leave no doubt they're mine...wish they were more like their mother in fact. <<

LOL sucker. A classic example of wishful thinking. Probably one of Hoib's li'l people look more like Jim across the lake than Hoib but Hoib'd always fixate on the similarities with the mother etc etc.. Therein lies the trick.

(People resemble their dogs don't they?)

cassieB - 07:38pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#11 of 66)

I read a study somewhere (and would appreciate confirmation) that the female side of the family always take great pains to liken the newborn to the attending male,(the spitting image of his father etc) are indeed conditioned that way.


Wonder why?

Henry94 - 07:40pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#12 of 66)

hoib; If you think female seduction and male rape are equivalent, then I hope for your childrens sake that they are not your own, notwithstanding their unibrows...................

cassieB - 07:44pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#13 of 66)

You're a bit of a thickie Henry if you didn't read Hoib's stuff in the way it was meant. (And an even bigger thickie if you deliberately misunderstood it)

C'mon, there are many Bat020s out there who have philosophy based on the fundamental guilt of the white male. Tell us all about it .

Henry94 - 08:00pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#14 of 66)

Here is the part I object to, and no amount of qualification can justify it.

"Male unwonted lust is called rape. In females we call it seduction."

It's PC gone mad isn't it..............

cassieB - 08:02pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#15 of 66)

>>"Male unwonted lust is called rape. In females we call it seduction."<<

I think that rather poetic and almost certainly true.

Hoib has a deeper understanding of the human animal than you henry.

Henry94 - 08:21pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#16 of 66)

cassieB. Does the question of consent bother you at all?..........................

rshowalter - 08:43pm Nov 3, 2000 BST (#17 of 66)  | Delete

The question of consent does bothers me.

Both sexes seduce - and in essentially similar ways. Females face less resistance - I can remember being almost seduced, when pretty young, and marvelling that I had no defenses, that it wasn't something I'd thought of defending myself against. Women do have such defenses to male seduction, as a matter of culture - most of them, anyway - that's the only difference. For men with some experience, and for women, seduction is much the same.

Rape, the imposition of sex by force, violates many standards, and many people think death sentences appropriate punishment for it. I take it plenty seriously. But it is an assault, not a fraud.

Having a child by a man not your husband, without his suspecting, is fraud, something different from assault.

hoib - 07:19am Nov 5, 2000 BST (#18 of 66)

henry old sod. Do you ever read anything I write?

You accused me of equating rape with seduction when a bare six posts before I wrote:

"Male unwonted lust is called rape. In females we call it seduction. Granting that the former is light years more barbaric than the latter...where do the innocent results of either look for emotional and physical parenting"

Your subjective pre-dispositions about me are clouding your thinking.

Elli - 11:26am Nov 5, 2000 BST (#19 of 66)

"As a minimum standard, I think it would make sense, if it became at all technically reasonable to do, to have genetric testing early in pregnancies, and to abort fetuses not genetically related to the husband, at the wife's discretion if the matter were secret, or if the husband wanted it done."

Are you serious?

What a wonderful way to embark on parenthood... "You're pregnant? That's wonderful! Let's rush you up to the hospital to run those tests...then we can really celebrate!"

As for the original thread title, I would say "Depends on the parents and the child in question" - many men willingly take on that responsibility when re-marrying or adopting. I have come across men who have done so whilst fully knowing that the unborn child is not theirs...if a man felt very strongly about it, and wished to end the relationship as a result, then I can certainly see a strong case for him not being financially responsible for the child which is not his. However, it depends on how seriously you take the issue of trust in a marriage - to me the most important part of getting married / committing yourselves to each other is the implicit giving up of trust on both sides. You surrender an element of self-defence, trusting and believing that your spouse does the same. If that trust is then betrayed, then divorce is obviously an option. But (and I don't know the answer to this one), should or shouldn't we assume responsibility for anything that happens within a marriage under those conditions of trust? Are there any "get-out clauses"? For example, if you turn out to have wed the biggest mass murderer of the last 20 years, can you "divorce" yourself entirely from him/her and his/her actions?

rshowalter - 11:54am Nov 5, 2000 BST (#20 of 66)  | Delete

I'm entirely serious.

If a couple learn, rejoicing, that THEY are pregnant, it is reasonable to hope, and expect, that the woman has been f*cking nobody but her husband.

If the facts are otherwise, I'd hope the woman, on finding herself pregnant, would determine paternity. And if the fetus was not concienved with her husband, I'd hope she'd terminate. Ideally, without telling him.

The idea of "unconditional trust" or "trust without limit" is deeply inhumane and unrealistic. I don't think any human being ever gives such trust, except in pathological cases, and in the good marriages I've seen, both sides are very clear about the limitations and conditions of their mutual, wary, trust. And I think that is how it should be.

I believe paternity is the core problem, more than any other, in an unresolved and increasingly divisive and bitter battle of the sexes.

I believe that unless male NEEDS for security about paternity are resolved, the idea of "sexual equality" is going to be divisive, and emotionally unworkable for people as they are.

I stand by what I said.

macnurse - 12:25pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#21 of 66)

"An unresolved and increasingly divisive and bitter battle of the sexes" - do you really believe this, rshowalter?

tonyjones2 - 01:05pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#22 of 66)

25% false paternity - jeepers creepers. I can just imagine all those 'Uncle Jack' types, living just around the corner, sucking deeply on their pipes as they take an unnaturally close interest in the development of their subliminally acknowledge offspring. Meanwhile, sappy 'father' in perpetual denial, 'poor old Stan', a prematurely balding, sad eyed scrawny little runt half the weight of his wife works his back into the ground, destroying all hopes of his DNA continuing into the next century.

That's how I hope my kids will be brought up, anyway.

["Uncle" tonyjones2]

macnurse - 01:07pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#23 of 66)

LOL @ tj2.

tonyjones2 - 01:17pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#24 of 66)

I reckon that JSwan would make an ideal 'Uncle Jack'.

Actually, I've just remembered, it's relationship between the John le Mesurier (sp.?) and Pike characters in Dad's Army I'm thinking of, was his name Jack? I forget.

rshowalter - 01:17pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#25 of 66)  | Delete

macnurse I really do believe what I said.

"An unresolved and increasingly divisive and bitter battle of the sexes"

The sexes are bitterly divided, and for all the strong incentives for fraternization, and mutual sympathy, the bitterness is sometimes stunning, and in my view, washes over into all sorts of other discourses, intellectual and political.

For millenia, the dominance of males, sometimes enforced in draconian ways, has been more or less acknowledged. Now it is being very effectively, persuasively attacked by feminist intellectuals, and ordinary females who want the operational equalities they need to work comfortably in the new economy. And the arguments for female liberation ARE persuasive. They persuade me.

But the argument that men need security in paternity, and the statistics, which even if overblown, may reflect facts that are still shockingly large, is compelling, too. I don't think there's any escape from the need for a "new deal" between men and women, at least in cases where the women want to be full economic actors, and the men agree to that. That new deal has to give essentially male levels of freedom to the female, for functional reasons. That new deal has to give women control of THEIR bodies, because if they are subject to "contractual rape" they cannot be free people, or make free decisions. Reproductive control is too essential to their lives for them to surrender veto power over it, if they are to be free like men.

so far, so good.

But for this deal to make equitable sense in terms of a contractual long term pair bond - a marriage constructed with the raising of childeren in mind, then the new freedom must, in my view, be balanced by sexual responsiblity at the primal level that is involved in promising to bear children for the husband, and not for strangers to the marriage.

I don't see how a male can reasonably be asked to comfortably accept the concessions of full feminine liberation on any other basis.

tonyjones2 - 01:20pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#26 of 66)

It's a bit rich me saying this, but rshowalter, you aren't trying to win any prizes for brevity, are you?

rshowalter - 01:21pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#27 of 66)  | Delete

I also don't see how such a deal can make human sense, for either the man or the woman, unless the people involved are in love, and resolve to stay in love -- that is it requires that people who marry make, and keep a promise to court each other, emotionally, sexually, and in other ways that matter, in an ongoing communication-negotiation-union, all their life long.

macnurse - 01:24pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#28 of 66)

Dear God, I believe you are trying to accuse all women of wilful infidelity to further cuckold their emasculated partners. Just as in everything else, we are all a mixture of good and bad; the only struggle should be us trying to improve the way we get on with others.

rshowalter - 01:25pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#29 of 66)  | Delete

tonyjones2 there are other people I know, who write much better, and they can pack a lot more meaning in a line than I can. Wish I could write so well, so briefly. Well, some on these threads do so, and it is an inspiration. I just try to be clear.

rshowalter - 01:30pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#30 of 66)  | Delete

macnurse I think women and men are both imperfect, and both do well, on most things, most of the time, but with glaring exceptions. And "trying to improve" makes sense.

I think, and hope I'm right on this, that marriages with perfect, or nearly perfect, fidelity are reasonably common. And if there's love between the partners, convenient, too. Adultery is a lot of work.

It seems to me reasonable to ask for perfect fidelity during times when children are being concieved. If that fails, and it can be done early, abortion makes sense to me.

I bet it makes sense to a great majority of the males who actually had a say in the choice, if that choice was faced early in the pregnancy of their wives.

macnurse - 01:33pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#31 of 66)

I know many women well; none of their children are the progeny of men other than their partners at the time. I'd like to know how up to a quarter of women are thought to have done this? Maybe I just know the wrong sort of woman.

rshowalter - 01:37pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#32 of 66)  | Delete

I hope you're right. The 25% number sounds wildly high to me, as well.

But the FEARS involved with insecure paternity are, I believe, absolutely central to current anger between the sexes. If an equitable deal is to be fashioned that liberates women from the old restrictions, that deal should include freeing husbands from the old fears about paternity.

macnurse - 01:37pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#33 of 66)

Actually, rshow, although I do support the availability of abortion sevices, I hold that they should be there for the choice of women, rather than for men.

rshowalter - 01:38pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#34 of 66)  | Delete

That means abortion can be a GOOD thing for the stability of loving, secure marriages, for real people, as they are.

tonyjones2 - 01:43pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#35 of 66)

I once spoke to a Libyan guy about the fact that a Muslim man may have four wives, but it doesn't work the other way: why couldn't a woman have four husbands? He explained, that, if there were babies, it wouldn't be possible to determine who the father was. I pointed out that four men who shared the same wife would probably be a reasonably fair-minded quartet, and might well be happy to figure it out amongst themselves.

I didn't think this was a flippant response. He did, though.

rshowalter - 01:56pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#36 of 66)  | Delete

Whatever people can actually, knowingly live with may be fine. tonyjones2's argument seems like it ought to make sense to a man who shared a wife with three other men in a formal arrangement.

But if what happens has to happen by fraud, that is a major matter. Men DO care about paternity.

rshowalter - 07:03pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#37 of 66)  | Delete

macnurse - (#33) says, quite rightly, that the choice to have an abortion should be the woman's, not the man's. But that choice, like other choices people make, happens in a context of obligation.

I think that a woman, rather than defraud her husband in this primal way, should choose abortion if the pregnancy is very early. And that the husband should have a right to ask for it.

If she refused? I guess I'd be against a contractual or legalistic answer, unless it was very carefully worked out, and applied only to people who had agreed to it.

But I think the refusal ought to be a serious thing. To say

"you stay my husband--and I'm asking you to commit a big part of the next 20 years of your life to raising this child that is not your own, and that you didn't agree to have"

is to ask a lot.

macnurse - 07:25pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#38 of 66)

Well, I guess that's why they don't tell 'em they're not the father then.

haggissupper - 08:06pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#39 of 66)

I'd do it if I really loved the woman, and she wanted to be with me.

rshowalter - 08:21pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#40 of 66)  | Delete

Maybe so. But it would be a sorry position for you both to be in, in the context of a marriage. In such a case, an abortion could be an act of love, and an act of responsiblility to you and to the marriage. You'd both have more joy, if you were making that 20 year committment to a child that was yours together.

rshowalter - 08:40pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#41 of 66)  | Delete

A lot of married women have abortions, for various reasons. I wonder what % of these fetuses are genetically their husbands, compared to the percentages for children that are born?

It may be that a lot of abortions are happening for this particular very good reason.

rshowalter - 08:51pm Nov 5, 2000 BST (#42 of 66)  | Delete

I wonder how easy it would be to find husbands of these women who objected to these abortions?

My guess is, pretty difficult, even among husbands who were members of religious groups who were violently against abortion in the abstract.

haggissupper - 12:33pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#43 of 66)

rshowalter- you seem very bitter about this?

rshowalter - 12:40pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#44 of 66)  | Delete

I'm grateful to be able to say that I have no personal reason to be. At the same time, I've talked to enough men, and watched enough reactions, to think that this is a big issue, passionate enough, for instance, to produce many of the very punitive practices one sees in Islamic countries. People, including clerics, are and have historically been prepared to kill women about this, and radically limit their ability to function.

If "equality of women" is a high and practical ideal, and for women who choose it, I think it is, then this is an issue that has to be adressed.

A generation ago, that was, as a practical matter, technically impossible.

Now, there are new technical possibilities, and with them, new moral choices have become possible, and practical.

And yes, I think it is a big deal, connected to a core issue on which the long term stability of the feminist revolution rests.

haggissupper - 12:49pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#45 of 66)

I think maybe you should look to the animal kingdom for an explanation- most females mate with multiple males in order to guarantee the strongest kids. Is this nuts?

haggissupper - 02:16pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#46 of 66)

ah yes. well, I'd have to tell her to bolt in that situation.

jdbs05 - 02:19pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#47 of 66)

What about a woman without a partner who has had several sexual partners over the relevant period ? She only knows one of the men even vaguely and he is the bloke hauled in front of the court. Even though it is proved that he is not the father nonetheless as he is the only one the law can actually 'get its hands on' then he is deemed to be the father for support purposes. I believe that actually happens a lot in Canada.

haggissupper - 02:22pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#48 of 66)

yes, like I said, c u l8r love.

rshowalter - 02:30pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#49 of 66)  | Delete

Well, if sexual responsibility means anything, it means being responsible about the creation of children. If a child is born, that child should be taken care of - and surely it can be no fault of the child, how conception took place.

But the question remains worth asking: How much responsibility should women be expected to take, and expect themselves to take, for the reproductive fidelity they explicitly promised when they married?

I think the answer is that the more women ask to be treated like free, responsible actors, the more responsibility they should take here.

The animal kingdom analogies may read directly on female motivations - but the HUMAN history is one where reflections of male concern about paternity have often been powerful, even draconian, definers of the limitations of female sexual roles.

Human women have been subordinated- radically subordinated, throughout most of history. I believe that a central reason, and the most logical reason, has been male concerns about paternity, and male attempts to deal with these concerns by force, very often force reinforced by religious and secular law.

If full woman's liberation is to be stable, and something males can be reasonably expected to accept comfortably, then reproductive fidelity, which is now technically easy in a sense in which it was not before, should be a widely expected minimum standard of conduct -- "part of the deal" for full woman's liberation.

jdbs05 - 02:38pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#50 of 66)

rshowalter - I'm not sure whether you are referring to my posting ( #48 ) but I think you are saying that the man in question should be 'let off'. Are you a politician or aspiring to be one ? In terms of roundabout answers you're well on your way.

Elli - 02:47pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#51 of 66)

"If full woman's liberation is to be stable, and something males can be reasonably expected to accept comfortably, then reproductive fidelity, which is now technically easy in a sense in which it was not before, should be a widely expected minimum standard of conduct -- "part of the deal" for full woman's liberation."

Can we assume that you intend the same standards to apply to men, rshowalter?

Clearly, reading your posts, you and I are never going to agree on how we view the issue of partnerships/marriage, so best to leave that one there...however, I am concerned by the level of "I guess", "Maybe", "I suppose", "I think"s in your are weaving a whole world in which women are serially unfaithful whilst inside supposedly happy marriages and men are being regularly forced, against their will, to support children which are not theirs, having been innocently duped by these wily women...forgive the flippancy, but - puh-lease!

The world you paint is not a world I recognise anywhere. Yes, there are significant issues around the idea of marriage and fidelity these days. There are men who refuse to be tied to one partner, but instead father a series of children whilst retaining their independence. There are teenagers who reproduce while barely into puberty, having regarded sex as some kind of extension of playground kiss-chase. There are women who, as single parents, raise children from a number of different fathers, for varying reasons. There are women who are beaten black & blue by violent, bullying men and who find it impossible to escape from a life of degradation and pain, often principally because of the apparent impossibility of supporting their children alone.

Those are all realities in this 21st century. Many of them are unpalatable truths it would easier not to swallow. I know people who have been / are in all the above situations. As for the rather more lurid scenario of women ranging the social landscape, shagging everything in sight before returning home to innocent, loving husband...nope, not seen one of those. Has anyone else?

rshowalter - 03:21pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#52 of 66)  | Delete

jdbs05 - (#51) I don't know if the man should be "let off" - haven't made that decision. It isn't my decision. When you point out that I'm "waffling," well, I guess that means I'm afraid, and anxious to express some hesitancy, rather than sound too sure of my views. The views themselves, I hoped to express straightforwardly.

Elli (#52) I think sexual fidelity is very important and I do NOT approve of men "sleeping around." But there ARE assymettries in the biology of reproduction. I'm male. I can't get pregnant, and I don't have some of the immense biological attachments that come with pregnancy and motherhood.

When you ask: Can we assume that you intend the same standards to apply to men, rshowalter? YES. If I marry a woman, I intend to be faithful to her, and if that relationship is fraying, and an infidelity occurs, I believe the partner should be as fully informed as (he or she) wishes to be, and, if at all possible, before the fact.

But on the issue of conception of a child by a man not the husband, we're talking about a concern where the needs and responsibilities of male and female partners aren't the same.

I think concern about parternity is historically important, important now, and I've said so.

You're exactly right that there are plenty of OTHER things wrong with the relationships between the sexes, that both sexes are often irresponsible, and that male irresponsibility is, very often, both the more brutal and the less defensible. I haven't seen that much female promescuity, and I found the 25% genetically not the husband statistic shocking and far fetched for that reason.

We agree about a lot of things. I'm not even sure we disagree on the issue that women should take steps, available today, to assure reproductive if not coital fidelity.

On the ONE issue I was adressing - not all issues of man-woman relations, but one I think is important, I stand by what I said.

MsMonkey - 03:30pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#53 of 66)

You stand by what you have said....therefore, although you acknowledge that there are other issues that impact upon inequality, equally as important, unless this issue is addressed, then women should not have "liberation"...even though you will acknowledge that oppression has wrought many wrongs. Are you in fact saying that women deserve all of those wrongs because of issues of paternity? Because that's what it sounds like, and it also sounds like you are suggesting a policed have the right to exist as an equal citizen only if you are prepared to offer up your body for medical testing in the event that you become pregnant. Let's face it, a woman wouldn't have to be "unfaithful" to a long term partner for him to insist that it's his right as a potential father to ensure that the child she is carrying is his...

Dennis999 - 03:33pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#54 of 66)

If a woman freely and knowingly enters into numerous sexual liaisons without taking any precautions against pregnancy then, yes, the men concerned should be "let off", as jdbs05 so charmingly puts it. Choosing one such man on the grounds that "he'll do" is exactly the sort of subtle degrading of the man's role that is (I agree) causing bitterness between the sexes.

For my own part, I am more than willing to accept responsibility for my own daughter, because I love her dearly. I find it deeply insulting that my relationship with her should be considered solely in terms of financial duty, although I know that is how her mother sees it.

I have been comprehensively taken to the cleaners by my ex-wife, and continue to be so. I know this, but love my daughter too much to fight too hard. The damage to her if the gulf between her mother and myself widened further would be unbearable.

rshowalter - 04:00pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#55 of 66)  | Delete

MsMonkey asked"

"Are you in fact saying that women deserve all of those wrongs because of issues of paternity?"


I am saying that, in the world as I understand it, concerns about paternity are a significant reason (to my mind, the only logical reason) for the oppression of women. And many men feel strongly about them. And will, and have historically. Strongly enough to kill women, and to have this conventionally reinforced by religious and secular law.

Do I disapprove of male oppression? YES. And most people, in good marriages, make shift to act themselves according to a higher standard than the conventions dictate. My own parents are fine examples, I believe. They've never ceased to court (and afflict) each other in ways entertaining to themselves. The relationship is, and is maintained to be, one of rough parity. My father would be AFRAID to oppress my mother, and rightly so. .... And my mother would, and would always have been, trusted by my father to meet with any man whatever in the way of business, and close doors behind her if that's what the business required..

All the same, the contractual relation in which they live has oppressive aspects, that they rise above, but that many do not.

I feel that male oppression is wrong, that the legalities behind it are only supported by concerns of about paternity, and nothing more, and that a "new deal" between the sexes is now possible - with the ONLY justification of male oppression removed, so that there is a clear way, logically and morally, to reduce or eliminate male oppression insofar as that is possible.

MsMonkey - 04:20pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#56 of 66)

"to reduce or eliminate male oppression insofar as that is possible" women can offer up their bodies for DNA testing, men can demand DNA testing...and it still might not alter the status quo?! But then how could it, because it is in itself a stricture, scientific oppression to go hand in hand with all those that exist already!

Btw, I don't suppose you're related to Elaine Showalter are you?

haggissupper - 05:25pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#57 of 66)

Shouldn't it be "proven?"

rshowalter - 05:56pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#58 of 66)  | Delete

MsMonkey (#56) I don't have the honor of being related to Elaine Showalter, except by marriage, and then a little indirectly.

No one thing is going to eliminate patterns of female oppression that have been embedded in our culture at least since the invention of agriculture. But I do believe that adressing what is in my view the main and core logical reason for these oppressions - concern for paternity, will open up other possibilities for more just and comfortable arrangements for both sexes.

Relationships between the sexes, at an individual and collective level are, and will always be, socially constructed and negotiated realationships. In my view, it makes sense, in this case to "substutute one stricture" for a whole family of others strictures.

Also, speaking as a male, I think it is FAIR to ask for reproductive fidelity within a marriage where I'm asked to work very hard and long to raise children. I'd LIKE coital fidelity, too, but it seems that reproductive fidelity is a reasonable minimum standard, and one that is now technically possible, as it was not possible in previous generations.

Callidice - 06:11pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#59 of 66)

#58. Seems fair enough given the immense personal investment involved. I fail to see any logical reason why a man should not be entitled to check the paternity of the children he is expected to provide for, If they are not his then they are the responsibility of another man. It is entirely reasonable that men be afforded this right by society. If individual men still choose to assume responsibility then that is their right, but in no way should they be held to commitments which proceed from blatant fraud, and fraud of the worst kind. A fraud that deprives their own natural children and expends their lives in a service they may never have consented to. Men who discover false paternity should be enabled by law to sue for maintenance (however far back it goes). The damage psychologically can never be repaired, in this there is indeed a parallel with rape. A woman has anothers offspring forced on her by violence, a man has anothers presented to him with trickery.

RoyBaty - 06:53pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#60 of 66)

Re 58 and 59. Agree totally.

tonyjones2 - 07:10pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#61 of 66)

Rshowalter - I think that you're oversimplifying a complicated issue by saying that 'the main and core logical reason' for male oppression of females is concern for paternity, and that 'the legalities behind [male oppression] are only supported by concerns of about paternity'.

The benefits for members of one social group having greater power over another are manifold: greater property rights, greater freedom of movement and behaviour, greater influence over the behaviour of others and so on.

The maintainence and enforcement of the male ascendancy would thus be the driving force of 'male oppression', justified by appeals to the natural order or God or some similar abstraction. I doubt that the sexism that prevails across many cultures has its sole source and justification in male concerns about paternity.

rshowalter - 07:33pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#62 of 66)  | Delete

You have to be right. But the only reason for male oppression that I can find a reason for, is the issue of paternity.

RoyBaty - 07:57pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#63 of 66)

The issue of paternity is about as powerful as anything. What could be more oppressive than a wasted life pouring resources into offspring that are not your own?

rshowalter - 08:02pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#64 of 66)  | Delete

What could be more powerful would be finding that it was being done, to you or someone you cared about, by fraud. Men feel seriously about this one. They always have, and I think they always will. For ordinary people, in love in ordinary ways, either male or female, the desire for sexual fidelity is strong - for aesthetic and emotional reasons. But when the issue is conception, and the raising of a child, emotions get far, far, far more intense, for reasons that seem unchangeable, given the fact that people, though they are very special animals, do remain animals.

rshowalter - 08:11pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#65 of 66)  | Delete

RoyBaty if you loved a woman, who had a child, and she came to you, she would come to you "with child" and to love her, you'd have to, want to, need to love them both. And it would be a gift to be able to do so. Pouring out your resources for that child would be a priviledge and a joy.

And you'd want to include the real father in the child's life, too, if you could.

RoyBaty - 08:21pm Nov 6, 2000 BST (#66 of 66)

Agree completely. But I would appreciate the choice. I certainly wouldn't want to be taken for a sap and I think I'd go mental if the law said I had be the father regardless of the facts. When I die, I die, this is my one shot at life IMHO. I would prefer to spend it enriching my own offspring (Or anothers if I so choose) But I want the choice.

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