New Guy Line
By Kevin Dawson
One nice thing about the Internet is that it allows one to
follow several newspapers relatively easily. In response to
the recent March for Women's Lives in Washington, DC, there
have been a number of letters to the editor opining that,
if women have any "choice" at all, they have the choice not
to have sex, and thus risk pregnancy, in the first place.
Every single one of those letters was written by a man.
Traditionally (and you know how much conservatives love
traditions), the purpose of "guy lines" is to coax women to
have sex with men, e.g. "Come on, baby, if you love me, you'll
show it." It's certainly a noble sentiment to say, "I respect
your choice not to have sex," - assuming the man tells the
woman this before they have sex - but it's not going to get
very many guys laid.
Maybe that's not such a bad thing. If so many males want
to go on record as opposing abortion, they at least can do
their bit to prevent them. But again traditionally, it's been
the other way around: boy meets girl, boy uses guy line, boy
(if guy line is successful) gets girl, girl gets pregnant...
Wait a minute. That girl didn't get pregnant spontaneously
or coincidentally. So why isn't it "Boy gets girl pregnant?"
Unfortunately (for women), men are the ones who tend to run
away from an unwanted or inconvenient pregnancy. Thus a new
set of guy lines to suit the occasion: "I want nothing to
do with it." "I don't need the responsibility." "It's your
baby, you deal with it." Even "Get rid of it or I'll never
touch you again." Ironically, many of the recent letters to
the editor have brought up "the poor father" of the aborted
fetus. "I Wanted the Baby, She Didn't" sounds like a Jerry
Springer topic, except that usually it's the other way around.
This, of course, is why males, who have been spared this
primarily biological dilemma (though you've probably heard
the old saying that if men got pregnant, abortion would be
a sacrament), should, if they can't bring themselves to support
a woman's right to choose her own reproductive destiny, at
least be neutral on the controversial subject, conceding that
they can never be completely cognizant of what's at stake
To stereotype "pro-choice" women - or men, for that matter
- as blithe baby-killers who see abortion as having no more
consequence than a nail wrap is as unwarranted and unfair
as denying Holy Communion to pro-choice Catholics. (If the
Church withheld Communion to every individual whose personal
beliefs veered even the slightest bit from the strictest catechism,
it would soon be awash with wafers.)
Many "pro-life" therapists, who ethically shouldn't be discussing
their patients even indirectly, have written into newspapers
sorry accounts of post-abortion stress and depression. The
point here seems to be that women don't know any better and
must be saved from themselves. Let's credit women with a little
more brains than that, shall we?
You'd think there would be some room for finding a common
ground. All those Iraq hawks who have assured the rest of
us that "Nobody likes war, but..." should be able to understand,
even if such understanding amounts to giving one the benefit
of the doubt that nobody thinks of abortion as the most fun
you can have this side of a theme park.
The NRA crowd, who constantly tell us that you won't make
guns disappear by criminalizing them, that they may indeed
become less safe, should realize that the same holds true
of abortions. (As the late Joan Crawford is supposed to have
said, apropos of something else, "No wire hangers!")
It's a sad business, from all points of view. To wax sentimental
about the presumed suffering of the unborn is meaningless
unless one is equally mindful of the plight of the equally
innocent and equally unwanted post-born, who of course will
suffer for much longer.
If more men were as eager to assume reproductive responsibility
(to a slightly fuller extent than "Don't worry, baby, I'll
pull out before I... oops!") as they are to hand out scarlet
A's, maybe some of them would understand what the women were
marching for recently.