May 27, 2010

"Pregnancy is an extremely contested area of human relationships."

"It’s likely that there are women who try to get pregnant on purpose in order to maintain or change a relationship. But now we can also say that there is another part of this story that we have not paid enough attention to: men’s direct role in promoting pregnancy against women’s wishes. It’s not the only cause of teen pregnancy, but it’s one that we’d managed to miss for a very long time."

Have we really missed this? I thought it was the oldest story in the book — embodied in the phrase "keep them barefoot and pregnant."

19 comments:

HKatz said...

None of this is unfortunately new. Neither the female motive of trying to entrap a man (or make him love her forever!), or the male attempt at coercion.

When it comes to abortion too, I've personally seen (and also read about) cases where the woman or teenage girl didn't want to get an abortion but was pressured into it by her partner or by her parents. Sometimes she resisted the pressure and had the kid; other times she wound up getting the abortion.

TRO said...

Oh Jesus, do we have to listen to still another "it's all the man's fault" tale? Seriously, if we are as bad as they say, I just don't understand why all women just don't go lesbian and be done with us.

EDH said...

I suppose some men and some women use pregancy to trap the other, and that The Nation for ideological reasons would want to highlight the "reproductive coercion” of the former against the latter.

Similary, I'm not surprised The Nation total ignored a third avenue of "reproductive coercion," wherein one or both biological parents engineer a pregnancy in order to "trap" the taxpayer.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

I've heard tell of certain groups of men, obviously those who run in other circles than my own, who consider getting women pregnant to be some sort of great acheivement, confirmation of their virility. There's a man in my area who, at age 29, has 21 children (from who knows how many women). They get something like a buck twenty-five a week in child support from him.

I don't want to take the blame from the man in these situations; he's selfish, stupid, and almost sociopathic towards the needs of any children he may produce. However, we women, as the ones who biologically will bear the majority of the results, absolutely must have and accept the responsibility to say no, say not without protection, or to say I want nothing to do with him. If you decide to take a chance with someone who can't care for your children, I have little patience for your complaints. If you took the chance while he already had a couple of women knocked up, I have even less.

Feel sorry for your kids, though.

- Lyssa

HKatz said...

Seriously, if we are as bad as they say, I just don't understand why all women just don't go lesbian and be done with us.

The article is referring to a certain group of men who do this (just as there are a certain group of women who also use pregnancy as part of some sort of manipulation). But it's not talking about all men, or all women. Don't take it personally.

The reason why I think the authors believe this is news, is because - in our society at least - the stereotype is that every unwed man or teenage boy in an unplanned pregnancy situation would never ever ever have wanted such a thing (and that it happened either out of irresponsibility/accident or cunning on the female's part). But the stereotype doesn't fit for everyone.

Franklin said...

Phahahaha...hahahahahaha...hahahahaha!!!

That's the most poorly researched and improperly calculated "study" I've ever heard of.

TRO said...

"The article is referring to a certain group of men who do this (just as there are a certain group of women who also use pregnancy as part of some sort of manipulation). But it's not talking about all men, or all women. Don't take it personally."

I understood they were talking about a certain group of men (which is probably so small as to not be worth the effort of a study). But after a couple of hundred articles blaming men for pretty much every problem women face, you can see how we might get tired of it. Not to mention the damage being done to boys growing-up and hearing it all the time.

I also realize women can't just "go lesbian." Although it is an intriguing thought.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

BTW (just read the article, sorry), this story really has nothing to do with pregnancy, it is a story about abuse. The people involved are abusers and controllers; it has little to do with reproduction per se.

When I was in college and visited the health clinic for contraception, depo provera, which is once every 3 month injection, had recently come out. The clinic workers made a huge deal out of "selling" me on it, and I strongly remember that one of the "great" points about it that the gleefully rattled off was that it was good for women who were being abused, so that they could hide it from their partners.

I was pretty struck by this. Shouldn't the clinic be trying to help women leave the sorts of partners that they have to hide birth control useage from?

- Lyssa

HKatz said...

which is probably so small as to not be worth the effort of a study

Depending on where you live (even in this country), it's not so vanishingly small.

But after a couple of hundred articles blaming men for pretty much every problem women face, you can see how we might get tired of it.

That I understand. I don't like the lack of balance and the skewed perspectives either. It's agenda-driven and non-scientific, and detracts from actually understanding a given problem. It's also dehumanizing, both to men (who are assumed to be the beastly, predominantly guilty party) and to women (who are assumed not to have volition/responsibility of their own).

HKatz said...

Shouldn't the clinic be trying to help women leave the sorts of partners that they have to hide birth control useage from?

You'd think, and yes, that would be the best case. However, that sort of thing takes time and effort - to help someone break out of a certain mentality - so instead these clinics offer the more effortless way to get by (and in poor areas, where clinics are especially short on staff and money, it gets worse; there's also the assumption that the person being abused will be stuck for a good long while in that neighborhood, in proximity with the abuser, so maybe it's not worth the effort).

I don't want to detract from the work of some really good counselors I know though - people who've worked with abused women, men, boys, and girls and went above and beyond to help them get out and get on their own two feet and get through all of it.

Flexo said...

Have we really missed this?

It is rather easy to miss when so many of those men are the one's driving the women to the abortion clinic demanding that they go in and abort.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

HKatz, I guess I know that, but at the same time, the idea of making it easier for abuse to continue seems unconcionable to me. Perhaps they are helping one, but aren't they perpetuating the abuse in the community in the long run? There are no good answers, (and this was my reaction when I was a bit younger).

I think what mostly got me was how they presented it, as if it was a normal thing to have abuse and hiding. And hey, maybe in that neighborhood, it was. No good answers.

danielle said...

'barefoot and pregnant' is a term from an older generation, and typically, marriage is involved.

i cant think of a term that young people today use that gets at a similar idea, esp when the couple is not married and it is the man trying to impregnate to keep a relationship together.

It wouldnt surprise me if this term -- and the idea itself -- has gone out of fashion because it seems much more common today for men to be playing the field, getting a woman pregnant accidentally, and then being chased down to take responsibility.

HKatz said...

the idea of making it easier for abuse to continue seems unconcionable to me
I agree, though in some situations it's really hard to find a good solution for how to get someone out of that (I'm not saying that's an excuse to do nothing, but maybe they're thinking to themselves that at the moment they're helping someone avoid further pain, at least offering a short-term solution).
There's variability too, from clinic to clinic, and depending who's on the staff and what the situation is. Sometimes they do help, but it's not necessarily consistent; it depends on where you're coming from and what clinic you happen to go to.

And hey, maybe in that neighborhood, it was.
In some neighborhoods such abuse (and subsequent evasiveness/deception) definitely comes up more often. And health care workers may just get jaded about it, go along with it, and see no practical solution except for the one they're presenting.

edutcher said...

danielle said...

'barefoot and pregnant' is a term from an older generation, and typically, marriage is involved.

Disagree. There are a lot of unmarried women with children in abusive relationships who lack not only the resources, but the self-esteem to leave.

Not picking a fight, just making a point. Simply because the term isn't used doesn't mean it doesn't apply.

The Blonde was in a program a couple of years ago dealing with this sort of thing and came up against this a lot.

Blue@9 said...

Seriously, there are guys who want to control women by getting them pregnant? Maybe they need new brains in addition to hearts. What kind of "control" do you exert when it controls you for 18 years? Seriously, that's some incredibly stupid shit. I really wish society could just kill such stupid people so they'd cease to pollute the gene pool.

c3 said...

While I will never discount the serious consequences of partner violence. (I once helped found a rural woman's shelter and domestic violence group) One should review the study.

-it cross-sectional and so has much greater difficulty assigning cause and effect
- it surveyed young women coming to a particular clinic, so may not be a representative sample
-it really speaks more to those women who experience partner threat and violence. I would suggest thats a distinct and minority subset of all young women
-And most important, in the results the "odds ratio confidence intervals" ( a statistical tool for looking at association) are very wide and cross one. And so we may have a situation of "true/true but unrelated", in spite of the "logic" of the narrative.

shirley elizabeth said...

Of course, the rise in teen pregnancy has nothing to do with the fact that more teens are having sex. Because pregnancy has nothing to do with sex. There are no consequences.


And what kind of research is this? "We took the numbers we found in this group and applied them to this other group so it all makes sense."

Synova said...

The biological appeal of virility and the extra dimension to sex imbued with reproductive power is real and true and part of both male and female motivations.

This article was talking about abuse. Which is entirely different. The examples they include are ones where abortions are demanded and other physical abuse occurs. This is not, at all, anything like valuing a woman for her reproductive role (barefoot and pregnant) not even for selfish reasons and in disregard to what else she might rather be doing (keeping her barefoot). To the extent that attitude was ever exactly that... yeah, it's pretty awful. But it's *still* not what is described in the article.