Friday, May 12, 2006

Men's rights on campus. I was invited to give a lecture to a UCLA class (about my marketing business, not my blog) and came across this interesting commentary in The Daily Bruin, the campus newspaper. The writer, Lara Lowenstein, states that if "women have the right to choose, then men should too." She notes that
When a woman unintentionally becomes pregnant she has options such as abortion, carrying the child to term, adoption or becoming a mother. But when a man unintentionally fathers a child he has few choices. If the woman chooses to have the child, then the man involved is held financially liable for the child without having any say in the matter. While women seem to have the freedom to have sex without the burden of procreation, men are left at the mercy of the woman's decision. Some men, rightfully, are crying foul. In fact, the National Center for Men has filed a lawsuit in Michigan that specifically addresses this concern, nicknamed "Roe v. Wade for Men." The lawsuit is not trying to give men a say in the matter of whether a woman decides to have an abortion or not; its goal is to provide them the option not to be a father, financially or otherwise. The men involved in this lawsuit don't give specifics as to what restrictions should be placed on the choice to opt out of fatherhood, but given reasonable restrictions, their right to this choice makes sense. If they're forced to make their decision in time to allow the woman to safely choose whether or not to get an abortion, then men should be allowed to make the choice of being a father. In fact, if you're really pro-choice, there isn't an argument to counteract theirs. The arguments that could be used against them are either the same ones used against women who want the right to get an abortion, or they're simply not strong enough reasons to disallow men a right to choose.
I generally support men's rights, but I think that we have to acknowledge that men do have a choice when it comes to sex and procreation. If they engage in sex, they can wear a condom or they can enjoy "outercourse" rather than intercourse. Rather than set a double standard, I think most current laws reflect the fact that often, young women are pressured into having sexual intercourse when they are not 100% ready. As fathers, we can take two key steps. First we can set a good example for our children in our own behavior. Second, we can be pro-active in discussing sexual behavior with our kids. If we can show that we are willing and able to talk intelligently about sex, they will be more comfortable in approaching us when they have questions.


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