August 1, 2013

Do we pity the man who is, against his will, forced into fatherhood?

Earlier this month, many of my readers objected to my lack of sympathy for men who, unlike women who have the right to get an abortion, find themselves dragged into fatherhood by the women they've impregnated when those women exercise their right to choose and go ahead and have those babies. I doubled down on my opinion here, on July 7th, and the comments thread there was a huge freakout, much of which you can't see now, because we did a ton of deletions. It was so bad that we ultimately had to turn off comments to stop the gush of repetitive abuse.

I hope you remember enough of that discussion to apply it to the specific context of a case in today's news:
Simon Cowell has been pictured for the first time following news that his married lover Lauren Silverman is expecting his baby.

The 53-year-old music mogul...  is said to be 'freaked out' by the news he is to become a father for the first time... Cowell... has been named as a co-respondent in the divorce papers Lauren's estranged husband Andrew filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court two weeks ago, citing adultery as the reason for ending the marriage.... Cowell is likely to be called to the witness stand to reveal not only details of the alleged affair with Lauren but also details of his personal finances, estimated to be in the region of $350million....

While Cowell is said to accept that the baby, due next February, is his, the news of 36-year-old Lauren's pregnancy came as a huge shock to both Simon and his closest female friends including Sinitta and ex fiancée Mezhgan Hussainy - otherwise known as his 'harem.'...
So here's a man who has used his great wealth and fame to acquire what is openly called a harem. All of these women were in a position to use their powers of reproduction against him, either deliberately, accidentally on purpose, or through pure oopsiness. They were playing and playing and playing with Nature's great life force, and Nature dropped a consequence.
‘In the harem hierarchy, Lauren is regarded as the fun, party girl. The other girls have all met her, they know who she is and they have been reduced to tears by this.'
It's fun until it's not. And why are the other "girls" crying? Because they didn't make the big move and bind him and/or his money to them with a baby? Because he was handing out enough cash and good times that they all understood the arrangement, and Lauren broke the rules? How many abortions and attendant payoffs have there been in the harem over the years?
It is as yet unclear whether or not Cowell and Lauren will attempt to make their relationship work for the sake of their unborn child.
There's a reality show for you. Divorce cranking away. The harem in tears. Cranky old bastard who said he couldn't tolerate a kid.

ADDED: The above-linked article has a claim that Cowell and Lauren were trying for pregnancy, but here's an article quoting someone "close to Cowell" saying: "The pregnancy has taken him by surprise. He assumed she was using birth control... Simon thought this was a casual relationship — friends with benefits. The pregnancy was not planned. He is feeling tricked." If that's true, it makes Cowell's case exactly what we were talking about last month.

89 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

In the article, it says that Lauren says that they were trying to achieve a pregnancy. Since the husband has just filed for divorce, one suspects that the pregnancy was sought to push him over the line to file for divorce, that it was a device to force him into this. Apparently adultery was not enough and maybe she didn't want to file. So legal machinations. All the weird ways people use pregnancy. As if children were pawns.

aronamos said...

A very wise woman once said that a man who had sex with a variety of women without concern for the possibility of pregnancy was a "splooge stooge."

I think she found the poster boy for such.

surf-ed said...

My what a fun "party girl". And to think she jumped que (a no-no in the UK) in the "harem" hierarchy. There needs to be a pill for men. Get crackin' Big Pharm. A pill for me would put paid to foolishness of this constant ilk.

David Carlson said...

in divorce, children are often pawns. Because, after all, life is all about me.

As to the facts in the case - I know longer assume a newspaper report contains any facts.

Amichel said...

If you carry on this way with several women for several years, you'd be a fool not to expect a pregnancy. Even the best contraceptives aren't 100% effective.

I've always thought the best advice was my Father's; if you aren't ready to have a child with someone, you aren't ready to have sex with them. Unrealistic perhaps, but still good advice.

C Stanley said...

I pity him for his ridiculous Peter Pan complex.

surf-ed said...

With me big fingers and small keyboard I mistyped. My previous comment should have read "a pill for men would put an end to foolishness of this constant ilk."

Matthew Sablan said...

If someone were forced into fatherhood, I'd probably feel bad for him. For Cowell though, he was having sex with a variety of women -- enough to be called a harem -- over a period of what, years? I'm going out on a limb and saying no one put a gun to his head on this one.

Pregnancy is an expected result of sex, even with protection used. Protection isn't 100 percent, and with the number of people having sex using protection, SOMEONE is going to draw the short straw. It's sort of like playing Russian roulette: If you play it long enough, the odds are going to catch you. Having a harem is one of the many ways to tilt the odds against you.

Official position? No pity.

Oso Negro said...

It must be a frightful burden to have attractive young women constantly scheming to become pregnant by you.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Clearly, all this could be fixed if only we had more sex ed in schools! The problem is obviously that these uneducated young folk have no idea that sex leads to babies......

Inga said...

It appears to be another case of male biological material that has been used carelessly if it is indeed an oopsie or a tricksey. That stuff is like gold, keep it locked up unless you put it into Fort Knockers willingly with full knowledge of its precious potential.

Ann Althouse said...

"A very wise woman once said that a man who had sex with a variety of women without concern for the possibility of pregnancy was a "splooge stooge.""

Cowell's stock in trade has been acerbic critique of bad performers, so I delight in calling him a splooge stooge.

damikesc said...

I hope her husband nails her to the wall in the divorce proceedings. I find the whole thing loathsome.

But this is what successful women have to look forward to. Schools have turned against boys, so boys opt out. Women don't want to "settle" so with fewer men college grads than women, you will see more of this. Women will degrade themselves for successful men and with all of the changes in traditional morality, it will be miserable for women. If a man is rich, he can have a harem with NO obligations to any of them ... but, feminists, you fought the "patriarchy", so I guess you are successful.

The feminist myth that women can "have it all" was always a myth. Damn, unintended consequences hurt.

Patrick said...

"Accidental" pregnancy is the oldest trick in the book. A man who chooses to believe "I'm on the pill," etc. does so at his peril. It is an awfil thing for a woman to do, but that doesn't absolve the man of his responsibility for his child.

SGT Ted said...

She says they were trying to have a baby, he says they were not and feels betrayed.

Women don't get that the sympathy level drops to zero when they pull stuff like that, regardless of any "right" she chooses to exercise.

Note she DIDN'T say, "I want to have a baby, so since you do not, we better break off our fling".

The right to be a two faced liar and selfish person unconcerned about the desires of her partner is what she is also choosing along with keeping the baby. It's Otter from Delta House saying 'You fucked up; you trusted us." without being funny.

The central point of those that don't care for women's conniving ways in unilateral pregnancy decisions is that women want to be free to lie and cheat with no financial, or even social consequence to themselves.

It's the Modern Woman; Free and Independent, their word regarding sex or a relationship means nothing.

Free and Independent to pick a mans wallet for 18 years, should they so choose.

It's the child-like claim to brag about being a "strong and independent women", all the while depending on wealth transfers of some sort from a man or other men, via welfare that really grates.

Since I highly doubt we will go back to a non-promiscuous culture anytime soon, regardless of the desires of cultural conservatives, I think the sensible compromise should be that if a woman chooses to keep a baby, she should be obligated to marry, and the choice whether or not to marry will rest with the man. That way, power is equally balanced and unilateral baby keeping isn't seen as a complete one sided reward for the woman. Maybe women would make better choices if they had to face a forced marriage.

I used to have sympathy for single moms in general. I no longer do.

raf said...

I have no problem with a doctrine that states that voluntary sex implies consent to whatever pregnancy may result. A man has exercised his choice when he chooses to engage in sex and can be held responsible for the consequences. Where I suspect we differ is that I would apply the same standard to the woman. If she chooses (voluntarily, remember) to have sex then she should also bear responsibility for the consequences. Free-for-all abortion allows her to excape that responsibility.

I do not see why a woman's right to choose should be more expansive than the man's, but I would not therefore conclude that the man has a right to force an abortion or use the woman's access to abortion to disclaim parental responsibility. I conclude instead that a woman's right to choose occurs at the same point in time that a man's right to choose does -- at the time of the decision to engage in sex. After that, the welfare of the child becomes important.
\
Note the term "voluntary." Rape (in either direction) deserves consideration. If there were a way to relieve tha assaulted party from consequences while not relieving the assaulter....

Ipso Fatso said...

I admit I haven't read the article, but how do they know the baby is Cowell's? If party girl was fornicating with Cowell, chances are pretty good she had additional fornicators as well as the husband. If I were Cowell, test would be the order of the day.

Tom Gallagher said...

Pointing fingers at villians and victims in a scandal like this misses the larger cultural chess game being played out. Namely, the concerted effort to devalue and destroy the traditional family; now there's a crisis worth paying attention to.

Blackbeard said...

To see the injustice here reverse the genders. Assume a man and a woman have repeated casual sex, but the man assures the woman he has had a vasectomy. As it turns out he lied and she gets pregnant. Who gets our sympathy in that example?

RecChief said...

I have a question. Who has described these other girls as his 'harem'? Is it Cowell himself? Or a term that has been applied by the celebrity (tabloid) press? I think that makes a difference in how Cowell is viewed.

Also, if you are worth 350 mil, why would you 'assume' that the girl you are sleeping with is using birth control? In fact, if you were worth 350 bucks a week, why would you assume that?

OTOH, This is still a thorny question. If women can abort children that they don't want, for whatever reason, why can't a man extricate himself from an unwanted pregnancy? And if he really was tricked (and I am not saying he was, so hold the flamethrowers) what is his recourse?

Ann Althouse said...

"I admit I haven't read the article, but how do they know the baby is Cowell's?"

Apparently, he is admitting it.

There's no escaping identification these days.

But maybe it's all theater and he wants to claim it for some reason. Maybe he's into humiliating the husband. He could deny that it's his later, after the divorce, and get a DNA test then.

He's getting a lot of press. Who knows what PR schemes he has in mind? The Duchess just had a baby and it was great press for the royal family. Cowell's shows are struggling. Maybe after the harem routine and saying he'd never want a child, he's going to do the melting-heart, great-dad-at-last routine. I have truly found the meaning of life after all these years. Target TV audience falls in love with Simon all over again....

Score!

David said...

"If that's true, it makes Cowell's case exactly what we were talking about last month."

Also makes him seem stupid and foolish.

I am one of those who finds the complete male disengagement from the abortion decision to be strange and in some cases totally wrong. But I find it wrong in situations where the father (like a husband) has a stake in the child's survival. Unfortunately making such distinctions in real like would be a terrible legal and moral morass. (That's abortion for you.)

The underlying hint here is that Crowell would be pleased if she chose an abortion. No way he should have a voice in that. But money does talk.

SGT Ted said...



You may be onto something, Ann. The Entertainment Press "E!" type shows go absolutely goo-goo over celebrity pregnancies and babies.

jimbino said...

What happened to the idea of mitigating damages? The fact of his having sex does not generally make him liable for all the possible consequences under our law, which also requires the injured party to mitigate damages. What if it had been a serious STD instead of a fetus? Shouldn't she be expected so seek treatment?

Replying that a fetus is not a debilitating illness is not shared by all.

And what's the nonsense about, "Cranky old bastard who said he couldn't tolerate a kid." Would a person who couldn't tolerate pet rats also be a cranky old bastard?

R. Chatt said...

Maybe he never wanted a child with the women he had around considering he admitted to be attracted to "crazy women." According to what has been reported Cowell is a complete control freak so it is unlikely that he did not ask if the women were using birth control or that he would tolerate being lied to.
Maybe that changed with this woman Lauren, but he didn't have the courage to tell everyone up front. Maybe he hasn't thought it all through. Or maybe she lied but he likes her anyway.
Her estranged husband was friends with Cowell also, and now seems pretty happy to have grounds for divorce. I don't know about divorce laws and how that affects the financial settlement but I assume she'll get less of his fortune. She could always have divorced him and walked away with nothing but that wouldn't have gotten her Simon. She sounds pretty smart about getting what she wants.

Smilin' Jack said...

"Do we pity the man who is, against his will, forced into fatherhood?"

If the anti-abortion wackos get their way, women might be forced to give birth, but they can't be forced into motherhood. If the woman decides she doesn't want the baby, she can still evade all responsibility for it by putting it up for adoption. Why shouldn't the man be able to do that?

gregq said...

Ok, so let's turn this around:

There's this really rich woman, we'll call here Opraheta, she's a TV celebrity, and worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

She has a "harem" of men. One of them gets her pregnant. She decides to have an abortion. The man who impregnated her doesn't want her to get one.

Who should win?

How is this any different from Simon's case?

He's going to be on the hook for 18 years. Opraheta will be on the hook for 18 years, nine months. That's a difference of 4%. Big whoop!

"It's her body, she can do what she wants"? Fine, she did what she wanted, and she, with the help of that man, created another human being. It's no longer just her body.

Alternatively, "it's his body and he can do what he wants." If Simon doesn't want the kid, than he owes that child no more than Opraheta does. So he should be able to her: I'll pay for an abortion, but I won't pay to support you and that child for 18 months. If you don't abort, you're on your own.

You object to those options? Then what you're really pushing for is that men should be legally inferior to women. And while you're free to push for whatever you want, I can not see the slightest reason why your position deserves a shred more respect than the position that women should be legally inferior to men.

Visualize your reaction to a man arguing, with all seriousness, that women should be kept barefoot and pregnant, and of course never be allowed to vote. That is your moral compatriot. Because if it's ok for a woman to screw around, get pregnant, and kill the baby if the baby is inconvenient to her, then it's AT LEAST equally ok for a man to go out, screw around, and refuse to provide anything other than 1/2 the cost of the abortion if teh woman is willing to have one.

Mac K said...

Cowell is old enough to know better and should take a page out of one of the PUAs - hHe should bank his sperm and get the snip. He could have children via artificial insemination. And he's loaded enough he could pay for the reversal surgery if he wanted to.

dbp said...

I have a modest proposal for the use of marriage in equalizing fairness (and power) around the area of child support:

-If the woman wants to get married and the man doesn't. He pays child support just like current law.

-If the man wants to get married and the woman doesn't. He is not obligated to pay any child support.

-If they both want to get married. They get married. If the marriage ends in divorce, both of the parents have a shot at custody as is current law.

Ann Althouse said...

"Who should win? How is this any different from Simon's case?"

It's different, because as the abortion cases have spelled out, the pregnancy is happening inside the woman's body, and the state is not permitted to intrude on her bodily autonomy and prevent her from dealing with its internal physical changes as she sees fit (which the growing organism is in its earliest stages of development).

The man is another person, with equal domain over his own body, and he has made all the relevant choices about his body already. He allowed the release of his sperm into the wild, and the time for his powers to control what happened are now in the past. He is fortunate in that he never has to risk pregnancy or go through the ordeal of childbirth, but if he handles himself well in life -- which is what we as a society want to get him to do -- he will find a woman who will give her body for the production of his offspring. He should choose well, he should love and protect her, and he should support and protect the offspring.

If he wants to make other choices in life, he should not be surprised to find that the law has not been structured to help him do these other things that do not benefit society in the same way and that can be quite destructive.

Men's bodies and women's bodies are different, and it can be challenging to understand what equality is, with these differences, but you should at least understand why we have, in the existing law, the version of equality that we have.

If you understand it, but you want to reject it, you will need to make a sophisticated argument that takes all these into account. I am not seeing that from those who disagree with me.

Ann Althouse said...

"That's a difference of 4%. Big whoop!"

Since you don't risk pregnancy, you trivialize what it is. That does not impress me. Have you ever made a woman you love pregnant, and stood by her through the pregnancy and childbirth and recovery from childbirth, the way a good man does? From your remark, I don't believe that is possible. I would like to see better manly character from you. I don't know who you are or how old you are, but you need to learn about life.

annk said...

To see the injustice here reverse the genders. Assume a man and a woman have repeated casual sex, but the man assures the woman he has had a vasectomy. As it turns out he lied and she gets pregnant. Who gets our sympathy in that example? Still the baby, of course!

fivewheels said...

Look, I feel some degree of pity for someone if he or she has to go the post office and doesn't want to. That Cowell bears responsibility for the problem he has only changes the degree of pity from "Wow, I'm sorry this has happened to you" to "Dude, it's too bad you fucked this one up like that."

In a situation like this, where we're led to believe a woman has behaved poorly, the only reason to withhold all pity from the man altogether is if we deny that a woman has any responsibility at all for her actions, and can never be held accountable for anything. Instead, I say hold the man accountable for what he has done wrong, and pity him for the share of his problems that are from what the woman has done.

Why not do both?

Matthew Sablan said...

"-If the woman wants to get married and the man doesn't. He pays child support just like current law.

-If the man wants to get married and the woman doesn't. He is not obligated to pay any child support.

-If they both want to get married. They get married. If the marriage ends in divorce, both of the parents have a shot at custody as is current law."

-- None of that seems to care that THE BABY MATTERS MORE THAN THE PARENTS ONCE IT IS BORN.

I'd highlight it, circle it, and make the font bigger, but it might not help. All of the things -before- the baby is born don't matter once it is alive. Either the state is going to pick up the tab, the biological parents, adopted parents, or some combination there-of.

The biological father deserves to be on the hook well before every other member of the community.

OmegaPaladin said...

I have a question, Pr. Althouse. Would you view it as wrong for a man to ask women to sign a contract stating that she would not seek child support for any children resulting from sexual relations? Would such a contract be enforceable? (Assume it is properly signed and witnessed etc.)

Scott M said...

It is an awfil thing for a woman to do, but that doesn't absolve the man of his responsibility for his child.

Granted, but the hubbub was about the difference, legally, between the man and the woman. The woman can "absolve" her responsibility simply by choosing to end the pregnancy. The man has no such recourse and is 100% held to the whims of the woman's will.

pfennig said...

Many years ago, in another life, I handled a paternity case against a guy who had a one night stand with a woman who get pregnant. Neither party had a relationship with the other either before or after the event. One can be sympathetic or not with the support obligation that he was required to pay, and one can debate the fairness or not of the fact that the abortion decision is solely with the mother, but I always felt bad for him because the mother unilaterally decided to name the child "John Doe, Jr." after the father.

Gahrie said...

The man is another person,

so is the fetus

with equal domain over his own body,

Unless of course he wants to get a vasectomy, and then he usually has to get permission from his wife

and he has made all the relevant choices about his body already. He allowed the release of his sperm into the wild, and the time for his powers to control what happened are now in the past.

Most of us are actually OK with this, as long as the doctrine extends to women. You see, we think the ability of women to choose should also be located at the choice to have sex, instead of at the choice to kill your child.

pfennig said...

Many years ago, in another life, I handled a paternity case against a guy who had a one night stand with a woman who get pregnant. Neither party had a relationship with the other either before or after the event. One can be sympathetic or not with the support obligation that he was required to pay, and one can debate the fairness or not of the fact that the abortion decision is solely with the mother, but I always felt bad for him because the mother unilaterally decided to name the child "John Doe, Jr." after the father.

Gahrie said...

Have you ever made a woman you love pregnant, and stood by her through the pregnancy and childbirth and recovery from childbirth, the way a good man does?

How about the good man who makes a woman pregnant (because of course she had nothing to do with it) and wants to stand by her, but she decides to kill her child instead? Is he still a good man? Or is he now a bad man, trying to force her to bear his child? Is she a good woman?

pfennig said...

Many years ago, in another life, I handled a paternity case against a guy who had a one night stand with a woman who got pregnant. Neither party had a relationship with the other either before or after the event. One can be sympathetic or not with the support obligation that he was required to pay, and one can debate the fairness or not of the fact that the abortion decision is solely with the mother, but I always felt bad for him because the mother unilaterally decided to name the child "John Doe, Jr." after the father.

William said...

If, as noted above, Simon Cowell is really worth 350 million dollars, I don't see how this can possibly be a problem. Most domestic problems are soluble in money. The child will not want for anything in life. If lacking a father figure is a problem, Simon can always hire a "manny" to take the kid to ball games and teach him woodworking skills. I bet Chuck Norris could be hired for a reasonable rate. The mother also seems to lack maternal warmth, but, here again, the problem could be remedied by hiring Amy Adams to work as the nanny. Amy looks very sweet and would undoubtedly be attentive and kind to a small child. She probably charges more than Chuck Norris, but you would only need her for the child's early years.

gregq said...

"It's different, because as the abortion cases have spelled out, the pregnancy is happening inside the woman's body"

So what?

1: "because as the abortion cases have spelled out" IOW: As some unelected and unaccountable "justices" have decided to force on the rest of us.

2: Just as I have never been a woman, you have never been a man. If you think being put under demands you never wanted doesn't force internal changes, stress, and damage on a man, that is simply your ignorance speaking. If you think no man has had his life destroyed by having 18 years of child support dropped on him, without his consent, without his desire, then you're walking around willfully blind.

Just as a man lets his sperm out into the wild, a woman lets wild sperm into her body. If the man is responsible for everything that happens because of allowing that release, then the woman is just as responsible for accepting that release.

"You don't want to get a woman pregnant, don't have sex with her."

"You don't want to get pregnant by a man, don't have sex with him."

If both are equal adults, then both should face the same responsibility.

Inga said...

Do I have this correct? So if a man impregnates a woman and doesn't want the child, he is off the hook as long as he pays for or helps pay for an abortion? What about the pain and suffering of an abortion? Does he feel any of that? Or does he get to feel lucky that he isn't the party that has the procedure done on HIS body? Doesn't he owe her more than half or full cost of an abortion?

He was as irresponsible as she was yet he gets a pass. What about the life that he helped create, that gets snuffed out? I hope he isn't prolife for everybody else but his own "mistakes".

Why are some men disregarding the fact that the pregnancy happens in the female body as Althouse has mentioned? Convenient disregard for the woman?

C Stanley said...

Men's bodies and women's bodies are different, and it can be challenging to understand what equality is, with these differences, but you should at least understand why we have, in the existing law, the version of equality that we have.

i understand but don't agree with it. I think we're trying to use the law to equalize what cannot be equal. Biology, Nature, or God, makes men and women different and we should accept this rather than trying to pretend otherwise.

The closest approximation to fairness and equality under the law with regard to pregnancy and parental responsibility is for both genders to have the right to choose only up until the time that they choose to have sexual intercourse, since procreation is the expected outcome of that behavior, sometimes despite any attempts to preclude it, both men and women should be expected to accept that consequence and bear responsibiltiy for it.

n.n said...

Liberty is only suitable, and possible, for men, and women, who are capable of self-moderating, responsible behavior. In this context it implies that both the man and woman are equally responsible for the "consequence" of their sexual relations.

A woman does not have the right to terminate a pregnancy without cause, and without due process for the human life developing in her womb. She does not have the right to abort a human life in order to preserve her wealth or welfare, or personal convenience. She does not have the right to devalue human life. An elective abortion is no different than any other act of murder, and society has standing and a justifiable interest to preserve the intrinsic value of its members, both male and female, throughout their evolution from conception to death.

That said, both the man, and woman, need to take steps to control the distribution and fertilization of their genetic material, up to and including celibacy for men and women who are unwilling or incapable of accepting responsibility for the outcome of their behavior. Society has standing and an interest to prevent its members from running amuck. This is not limited to the traditional class of "criminal", but to anyone who seeks to destabilizes society or acts to devalue the intrinsic value of its members (i.e. humans).

A woman has the right to prevent conception. That's it. She has no right to murder another human life without cause or due process. A man has similar rights and no more. The rights of a woman are not increased by the fact that a human life evolves from conception to birth in her womb. Each human life, despite any arbitrary description of "viability", is sovereign throughout its evolution from conception (or perhaps from the origination of brain activity) to death. Both the man and woman need to voluntarily accept responsibility for the potential but predictable outcome of their behavior.

As for this married woman and her mister, Cowell, they shouldn't exploit pregnancy and an innocent human life as a form of WMD. The other members of society should hold them accountable for playing this dysfunctional game to disrupt the stability of society and devalue the lives of its members.

gregq said...

"Since you don't risk pregnancy, you trivialize what it is."

And since you don't risk being stuck with 18 years supporting a person who lied to you and cheated you, you trivialize that.

Also, since you don't face the risk of being aborted, you trivialize that.

Am I going to give out any information about myself? No. Who I am, what experiences I've gone through, doesn't matter (that is, after all, why ad hominem is a classic logical fallacy).

"Society" hasn't decided the current rules, some sleazy left-wing judges have forced them on us, and their left wing enablers have fought tooth and nail to keep society from GETTING to decide. Because the current situation would never have come into place in a situation where We The People had a voice.

You want personal responsibility? Great! Let's go for personal responsibility:

Don't have sex unless you're ready, willing, and able to handle the results of having sex. Male, female, it doesn't matter: if you willingly have sex (rape must be reported within 24 hours of when you can report it), then absent a significant risk of death to the mother, no abortion.

You want individual freedom? Great! We'll have that:

Feel free to have sex with whoever will legally have sex with you. If one of you gets pregnant, then either is free to say "I don't want the child" (within a certain time window. The man's doesn't start until the woman informs him she's pregnant). If the woman says it, she can
A: Get an abortion
B: Let the father take full responsibility for the child post birth (and pay her medical bills pre-birth)
C: Give birth and put the child up for adoption. (Oh, and we need to change the rules so this can be a binding choice. No saying you'll give the baby up, sticking someone with the bills, then "changing your mind" when the baby is born.)

If the man says it he can:
A: Pay for the abortion (pay for 1/2 if the woman says it too)
B: Be legally free of all child-support requirements, but have no rights to the child

But, so far as I can tell, the Althouse position is "total individual freedom for the woman, total responsibility for the man." That's not any form of "equality". That's either "women are irresponsible children, so we can't expect them to take responsibility for their decisions", or it's "men are and should be legally inferior to women."

MTN said...

If a man creates a child through consensual intercourse he's on the hook. She lied about contraception? Contraception failed? Those are inherent risks. You accepted them.


Exceptions? Very narrow and subject to proof in the face of presumed male consent. Rape of the male or intentional extra-intercourse insemination by the woman (i.e. via used condom). As to the latter, I liken it to fertilization via cloning methods, i.e. obtaining DNA via skin cells, etc. without consent. In the exceedingly rare cases where an exception could be proved (typically only through admission of the female) I would allow the male the option to accept paternity or disclaim.


Basically, don't have sex with a woman unless you are willing to accept paternity and all that comes with it.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Hmmm, several issues here:

(1) I agree with another commenter above that Cowell should request a paternity test. He may think this is his biological child, but I don't see how he can possibly be sure absent DNA evidence. "Trust, but verify" is at least as useful a principle when dealing with youthful party animals as it is in arms negotiations.

(2) The linked article includes this:

While some sources say he and Lauren are a couple, others say he is preparing for a legal battle over his £225million fortune - a huge chunk of which could go on child maintenance.

In all honesty, why ought it? "Child maintenance" ought to cover the reasonable expenses of raising a child, which do not magically go up if its mother happened to bonk someone with very deep pockets. I forget what Sun Bonds wanted out of ex-husband Barry to support their child, but IIRC it was on the order of $8K/month. That's absurd.

(IMO, custodial parents ought to be required to itemize how they spend their child support payments. It's not difficult: Just save your receipts as you ought to be doing anyway. Divide things like housing costs, utilities, gas and other auto expenses, groceries, &c. by the number of people in the household -- that would be a generous estimate of what costs are due specifically to the child -- and add in anything bought specifically for the child, e.g. clothing, toys, school supplies, furniture, electronics, &c.)

(3) Simon Cowell is emphatically not the sort of male "victim" we were arguing about in the prior threads. I, for one, brought up cases of statutory rape; of actual rape of an unconscious or semi-conscious man; and of the case of a woman inseminating herself with a condom used only for her performing fellatio on a man. You doubled down even on that one, which I still think was absurd. The only way that sperm got into her is because she rummaged around in the trash and put it there herself. He did nothing that could have impregnated her without her active connivance.

Cowell's case is, to say no more, different. As several other commenters have said, a lifestyle like that basically guarantees that, sooner or later, someone is gonna come up pregnant, whether through lying about BC or actual BC failure. In either case, any woman not impossibly altruistic is obviously going to keep the baby and see how big a settlement she can wangle out of the judicial system. It's improbable in the extreme that Cowell didn't know all that going in (as it were), so I don't think I'll be shedding tears for him, despite what I just said about preposterous "child support" awards.

Conserve Liberty said...

I'm tired of all this pissing and moaning. Men and women are different. Always have been - always will be. Deal with it.

In this case women have an advantage - it is a biological fact. A woman can choose whether to conceive and whether to carry a pregnancy to term without consideration of her male counterpart's opinion. Deal with it.

She may also assume that said male conterpart will always play his part in the little drama at her whim. Deal with that, too.

Get over it, men. In this instance we aren't equal and it isn't fair. We know what our options are and we know what the consequnces are.

Deal with it.

Ann Althouse said...

"The only way that sperm got into her is because she rummaged around in the trash and put it there herself."

That's what he said. How would you know?

Question of fact. How would you resolve it?

The argument is leverage to manipulate the woman to settle. Man crushes woman by paying lawyers. The public resource that is paid for by the taxpayers gets its time wasted. The mother who should be taking care of that child is supposed to snap into litigation mode because the man wants to fight like that.

All because of the condom in the trash allegation.

What kind of crazy world do you want to live in?

The alternative is for the man to take care of the sperm while it's in his possession. That's where a sensible society has placed the risk.

Ann Althouse said...

The public resource that is paid for by the taxpayers gets its time wasted = the courts.

cubanbob said...

What's the expression lawyers say-hard cases make for bad law? Both of them are pigs. That said, as long as abortion is legal its an emergency brake. Getting pregnant may be accidental but staying pregnant is a choice. Ann's argument is good but glosses over the fact the woman and only the woman has the handle to the emergency brake. To use an insurance term-moral hazard-you have a right to keep a few Jerry cans of gasoline in your house but you don't have an automatic claim against the insurance company in the event of a fire. As a life practical matter men do have to be more choosy-Cowell apparently takes the position that crazy in the head equalls crazy in the bed but didn't connect the dots that crazy is still crazy.

Anyway this argument on both sides of the issue is circular-neither side for now will find common ground so perhaps it's best to leave it alone for now lest it stinks up the joint.

colleen cafferty said...

He really should take advantage of this as a blessing because of his age. He's old. He'll be dead within the next 30 years even with all his money. Does he want to die with no one he really knows well or who knows him by his side?

His mom would agree with me. :)

This goes to Ann's post on family. It's all true, but I'll add the caveat that in my experience it's really mostly white people that have lost their family ties - especially white people on the poor side in England, in fact.



Gahrie said...

THE BABY MATTERS MORE THAN THE PARENTS ONCE IT IS BORN.

And here we have the crux of the problem....some of us think the baby matters as much as the parents both before and after it is born.

Gahrie said...

Would you view it as wrong for a man to ask women to sign a contract stating that she would not seek child support for any children resulting from sexual relations? Would such a contract be enforceable?

The courts would invalidate such a contract, as they have invalidated similar contracts involving artifical insemenation.

cubanbob said...

What kind of crazy world do you want to live in?

We ready live in a crazy world. This woman independent of Cowell will get a hefty divorce settlement from her wronged husband. This woman is going to get a big chunk of money from both men from via the taxpayer funded courts. There is your wasted resources. Crazy indeed.

Gahrie said...

Why are some men disregarding the fact that the pregnancy happens in the female body as Althouse has mentioned?

No one is ignoring it.

It's just that some of us don't feel the fact is enough justification to take rights away from men, and responsibilities away from women.

cubanbob said...

One thing that seems to be on the side in this back and forth is the fact that in the last 48 years sex has effectively been separated from giving birth. Having kids is now optional when having sex whereas in the past it was probable. Today the choice really is do you just want sex or do you want to have sex with the option of becoming a parent. It's an opt-in rather than opt-out choice. The terrain has changed and this is why men are starting to argue that they too should have choices. That said, Cowell is still a pig and so is she.

30yearProf said...

Is there still any wonder for why oral sex and anal intercourse have become so popular? I'm sure a conniving female could still find a way to use the by-product of either activity to get pregnant but the odds certainly do change in the man's favor.

jimbino said...

The Coasean solution is to give full rights and obligations regarding sex and its effects to the woman and allow her to settle all the issues by contract.

That would free society of a lot of bad sex, bad marriages and bad kids.

The "rights of the kid" is unfortunately used to cover a multitude of sins.

jimbino said...

It's quite silly of Ann to focus on the taxpayer money wasted in the family courts, while we go on wasting billions of dollars on pretending to educate and actually incarcerating all those failed experiments in wanton heterosexual breeding.

Too bad we can't require the breeders to clean up their own messes.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Ann's argument is good but glosses over the fact the woman and only the woman has the handle to the emergency brake."

-- Don't get in a car if you don't trust how the driver is going to use the brakes.

Lyle said...

I'm with Althouse. I man and I understand their consequences to having sex.

If you have sex with someone, don't be surprised or angry that you might be having a child.

Be good men and women, and respect your own actions... or choices.

Locomotive Breath said...

It's different, because as the abortion cases have spelled out, the pregnancy is happening inside the woman's body, and the state is not permitted to intrude on her bodily autonomy and prevent her from dealing with its internal physical changes as she sees fit (which the growing organism is in its earliest stages of development).
===
If the "growing organism", as you so obliquely refer to a developing baby, doesn't share her DNA then it's not part of her body but part of someone else's body. Your argument fails.

Lance said...

Doesn't the law hold the current husband responsible for his wife's child? Or is that why the husband is now divorcing the wife, and naming Cowell as co-respondent? Even after such a divorce, if Cowell refuses to support the child, can the wife go after the ex-husband for child support?

aronamos said...

I find the argument that a man shouldn't be held responsible for a child he fathers, if a woman bears that child, as long as abortion remains legal, to be absolutely hilarious (if somewhat repetitive).

What's next? Spermburglar Stories Volume II?

To paraphrase the prophet Buffett: These are the flashbacks they all warned us would come.



Chris Lopes said...

The condom in the trash thing doesn't sound feasible to me. Anyone know how long the little guys can survive outside a body without refrigeration?

Kaja said...

William said: The mother also seems to lack maternal warmth

Why in the world would you assume that? Also, she already has another child, a seven-year-old boy.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

[me:] "The only way that sperm got into her is because she rummaged around in the trash and put it there herself."

[you:] That's what he said. How would you know?

Question of fact. How would you resolve it?


I think that in the case in question, the woman conceded that the facts were as stated, actually. I'm not immediately finding a good link to that case, but there's this one, which apparently didn't even involve a condom: The woman (a physician) held the semen in her mouth, and then inseminated herself.

Your position is that it's reasonable for a man to anticipate a woman getting herself pregnant in this manner and then socking him with child support demands later on (five years later in the instant case -- so that he didn't know he was a father until it was way to late to contest custody)? What is he supposed to do, march his date into the bathroom and demand she gargle with mouthwash after she gives him a blowjob? Bring along a plastic baggie to put his condom in, as though he were going walkies with his dog? How romantic.

I forgot to add earlier that there is also the question of "safe surrender" laws. Women who are pregnant are, yes, situated differently from men for biological reasons that we can't in the present state of medical technology, do anything about. But women after giving birth are in the exact same position that male biological parents are. Yet they have a unilateral right to make their children wards of the state, no questions asked, no names taken. This is law in all 50 states, though I think the allowable time differs. In CA, as I recall it, you can (if and only if female!) decide you'd rather not have any financial responsibility for your baby up to 30 days after birth; and since the whole process is anonymous, the father need never find out that he is a father and claim custody of the child.

Does that make sense?

C Stanley said...

The alternative is for the man to take care of the sperm while it's in his possession. That's where a sensible society has placed the risk.

Why don't the women have the same responsibility to take care of the eggs in their possession? Don't expose them to sperm or only expose them if you are ready, willing, and able to bear a child, and thus your bodily autonomy is protected.

MarkD said...

I could, in the abstract, care about the principles involved. I cannot bring myself to care about the principals involved here at all.

Carnifex said...

Women are the gate keepers in pregnancy. Men are the keys. It takes both to make a baby, and both are responsible. But in the case of both proving themselves irresponsible, i.e., one, the other, or even both, does not want to have children, then society must step in to be the arbiter of conscience. Not perfect solution but the only one available.

If you don't want to have a kid, don't have sex. Period. Dot. End of sentence.

Abortion, morning after pills, and various prophylactics remove from the common mind the absolute need to be personally responsible.

Until we become mature as a society, people will try to escape their responsibility.

I don't imagine this maturity will occur at any short timeline.

Smilin' Jack said...

Men's bodies and women's bodies are different, and it can be challenging to understand what equality is, with these differences, but you should at least understand why we have, in the existing law, the version of equality that we have.

This isn't about men's bodies, women's bodies, or the tiresome arguments about abortion. This is about what happens after the baby is born, when the man and woman are on equal terms. The man doesn't want the baby. The woman only wants the baby because a perverse law gives her access to the man's money if she keeps it. Meanwhile, thousands of people are going to the ends of the earth trying to adopt a baby because they do want one. Is this situation really what we as a society should want?

Gahrie said...

Does that make sense?

If you understand that men have reproductive responsibilities and no rights, and women have reproductive rights and no responsibilities, it makes perfect sense.

jr565 said...

Gahrie wrote:
How about the good man who makes a woman pregnant (because of course she had nothing to do with it) and wants to stand by her, but she decides to kill her child instead? Is he still a good man? Or is he now a bad man, trying to force her to bear his child? Is she a good woman?

althouse will never GET IT. Because she believes that women should have the choice and men the responsibility.
She's very provincial that way.
I personally think all men should take care of their kids no matter what, but I also have a problem with women deciding to kill MY baby (assuming I got her pregnant) based on her convenience and leaving me no choice. And similarly forcing me to pay for a child I didn't want. (Assuming of course I didn't want it).

Why shouldn't family planning include the concept that a woman might be a single parent? (If the man says up front, sorry but you're on your own). It is after all still respecting the woman's choice to keep HER baby. If she can't afford it, absent a mans support, there's always abortion. Right?

jr565 said...

Ann althouse wrote:
The man is another person, with equal domain over his own body, and he has made all the relevant choices about his body already. He allowed the release of his sperm into the wild, and the time for his powers to control what happened are now in the past. He is fortunate in that he never has to risk pregnancy or go through the ordeal of childbirth, but if he handles himself well in life -- which is what we as a society want to get him to do -- he will find a woman who will give her body for the production of his offspring. He should choose well, he should love and protect her, and he should support and protect the offspring.

the man should support and protect her and the offspring, unless the woman wants to kill it. Notice, that Ann's demand for behaving properly only extends to the men. Women can actually be murderers for convenience, and that ok.. But men are jerks if they don't want to support a child that only the woman wants. How chauvinistic.

jr565 said...

If its a woman's body and she alone determines whether a child is born then fin accept the responsibility of that choice, women., why should her choice extend past the time when the child is in her body?
Ifa dad wants to support a kid. Great. If a woman wants to abort her kid, and the dad wants the kid, tough. But if the woman wants the kid and the man doesn't, she knows those facts and can still choose to keep or abort her child. Why should the man then be obligated for her choice? She still gets to be a mother, he just doesn't want to be a dad.
Why villainies him for that, if we are going to lionize women who abort/kill their babies for the exact same reason.

jr565 said...

Lyle wrote:
Be good men and women, and respect your own actions... or choices.


I agree. And yet, are women respecting their action or choices? Men must be good people, and own up to their responsibilities. Women can murder their babies for convenience.
Woman demand that they be the sole choosers, yet don't want to honor the ramifications of that choice, and demand that men pay for their choice.

If a woman got pregnant and the man died before the baby was born, shed have the choice to be a mother or not be a mother. She would have to weigh the options in making her decision. If she still decided to keep her kid shed raise it as a single mother. So, what's wrong with a dad saying, I'm not going to be there as a dad, so if you want to keep the kid, you'll raise it as a single mother.
A woman would still have a right to choose.
Let the man choose too.

CB_Editor said...

There is much talk of being good and responsible people here.

Good and responsible. The side to take here, mentioned sparsely, is the child's.

But allowing yourself to believe that the baby magically appears ex nihilo through the invisible plane of a vagina, without having existed anywhere before, is a sad, medieval, utterly barbaric sort of black-box biology to which only an evil and irresponsible people could muster allegiance.

There it is; people ought to be good, and responsible. Right?

And pretending that because you can't see something, it isn't real, is irresponsible. And when the something is a baby, that is evil.

A good and responsible people would not murder children in the womb.

But by all means, keep arguing sperm chains of custody. You guys are teetering on the cusp of greatness.

Lori said...

I have no pity for either parent, only for the child.

Saint Croix said...

"Do we pity the man who is, against his will, forced into fatherhood?"

Do we pity the woman who is, against her will, forced into motherhood?

J said...

"If that's true, it makes Cowell's case exactly what we were talking about last month."

I've rarely commented here (4-5 times over the past few years) and wasn't part of the circus awhile back, but the above statement caught my attention.

You were talking about more beyond cavalier fools like Cowell who make assumptions. You also indicated that a man should be held legally responsible through child support if a woman lies and deceives. You even went further to also include cases where a woman commits theft and fraud. That includes taking sperm from her mouth or from the garbage.

To me, that's similar to endorsing that it should be legal to dig through someone's garbage and commit identity theft.

Your arguments definitely came across as normative in regards to the law and not descriptive.

That's a fairly extreme position that it's ok legally for women to impregnate themselves using sperm from the garbage and the man should be held responsible for child support.

I was not surprised when you got push-back (both legitimate and otherwise).

Mark Trade said...

I believe in the right not to be forced into parenthood and equal protection under the law. Although it looks like an ugly situation full of ugly people, that's no reason to delight in their misfortune and reckless behavior.

Simon has every right to deny responsibility for parenting the child born against his will. Yes, that sounds bad, but no worse than women who choose to have children they are unable to support. If his mistress were such a woman, she should be charged with reckless endangerment of a child.

jr565 said...

Michelle makes a good point about the safe surrender laws. There, a woman can give up her parental responsibilities and drop a baby off on a doorstep, practically. If men must be fathers, simply because a woman chose then why should she be able to simply choose, AFTER THE BABY IS BORN, not to be a mother and not to support her baby.
Again, the law protects the women and allows her to opt out of parenthood even if she gives birth to the baby.

Is Althouse going to defend those laws? And on what grounds?

jr565 said...

Safe surrender laws for men, so long as they say ahead of time that they don't want to be dads? What's wrong with that? Give them the same time frame to choose not to be a parent that we would give a woman to dump her baby on a hospital doorstep.

Or, alternatively, shouldn't we be determining the paternity of these babies and then going after the mother for child support, and for abandoning her babies?

So let me get this straight. If a woman doesn't want to be a mom she can kill her baby, or abandon her baby at a hospital, no questions asked after giving birth to it.

And yet a man must pay for a child he doesn't want simply because the woman chose to keep it?

And I suppose a woman can not tell him about the child and dump it on a hospital doorstep and deny him the right to be a dad, no questions asked.

Would he be obligated to pay for child support if paternity was somehow determined after the fact?

Renee said...

"Clearly, all this could be fixed if only we had more sex ed in schools! "

I have a friend with a 'surprise' with her husband. We're in our 30s now, and yet I don't know we find ourselves 'surprised'.

In a healthy marriage you can afford to be lazy with family planning and birth control. I think it comes from all 'the trying' for the planned ones. You think I had sex over and over (around the time of ovulation) for months and no baby, and one time... just once it happens.


Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

jr565,

I'd add that the premise of the "safe surrender" laws goes beyond "heckler's veto" right into "hostage situation." The argument is that if women cannot unilaterally and anonymously cede their parental responsibilities towards their newborn children, into the Dumpster goes the baby. "Let me out of this parenthood thing or the kid gets it!"

Bizarrely, I have heard no report of biological fathers throwing kids into Dumpsters. Weird, yes?

Bobby Dupea said...

This is just another example of selective, situational feminism: women are not to be held responsible for reproductive fraud, and by the way, men should pay for sex.

Cowell's an idiot, she's a high-class hooker, and the child is her shotgun. Just another day in paradise.