Sunday is Father’s Day. Countless men who have fathered children will feel sadness and regret on Sunday, as they do other days. Some of these men supported the mother of the child’s “right to choose.” Others had no choice in the matter. Some may not have even known until after the deed was done. What they all have in common is they are fairly universally invisible. Their voice nearly goes unrecognized. Their pain nearly goes unrecognized. Their fatherhood nearly goes unrecognized.
“Nearly” because some women have noticed. And if Kathleen Parker succeeds in turning the tide with her book, Save the Males: Why Men Matter Why Women Should Care — released today — these silent fathers may come out of the shadows and be embraced — along with the mothers who have fallen victim to a culture choice, otherwise known as a culture of death.
A little more honesty about the reality of abortion and there may be a lot fewer walking wounded among us — not to mention a few more children allowed to live.
The horror of our acceptance of mothers routinely — over 48 million abortions since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 — “choosing” to end their children’s lives recalls Shakespeare:
Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter’d with the hands of war
The poison abortion administers to the institution of motherhood is closely and intimately seconded by its assault on fatherhood.
In Save the Males, Parker writes: “Rarely is any consideration given to the father of the unborn.”
“As a practical matter, abortion raises significant questions of equality and fairness between the sexes and highlights the incremental phasing out of fatherhood.”
She asks: “How do we reconcile insisting that men be good fathers while also insisting that they have no say in whether they become fathers? On the other hand, how do we reconcile putting men in jail for failing to pay child support when they — like so many aborting women — may not want to be a parent in the first place? Or, as is so often the case, when they literally can’t afford to be fathers?”
For a culture that claims it is all about equality, the treatment of fatherhood in politics and the law suggests the whole thing’s a bit of a lie.
Given that every baby has a father, at least technically, shouldn’t men have a voice in the decision to abort? The feminist playbook has an absolute response: No. Men legally have no voice when it comes to abortion, even though the child is theirs to either love or disown. They can neither force a woman to carry a baby to term – Hallelujah! – nor force her to have an abortion. Ibid., chorus. Yet by law, men can be forced to become fathers against their will and held financially responsible until the child reaches adulthood. Is that fair, or is fairness mandated only when women are the beneficiaries?
The state of parental politics and law today is such that “Woman is arbiter of the life force, while man is reduced to sperm and a wallet.”
“It is little wonder that men are confused,” Parker observes.
On one hand, we insist that men be sensitive and invested in childbearing and child rearing. On the other hand, we insist that men not care about the “product of conception.” One’s a baby, we insist; the other’s just a clump of cells, we assure them. Father on; father off. Emotions on; emotions off. Except, of course, it’s not true that one is a baby and the other is a clump. It’s all the same thing, which is what many women begin to realize once they start having babies.
Life may not be fair. Women naturally shoulder more of the childbearing burden than men. But men should not be punished for that. Feminists who delude themselves into thinking that the tyranny of the mother (although they only call a woman with child a mother when it suits them) helps erase natural differences are not only wrong, but making it all the worse for all of us.
Parker writes: “Not only do we no longer value fatherhood, but we also have effectively released men from a cultural identity that tied them to a higher moral purpose. Relieved of that purpose — and otherwise marginalized — men are not likely to respond in ways that are going to please or profit women.”
Parker cites one father’s post-abortion testimony. With no foreknowledge of the abortion, one man writing on a website writes of “nauseating feelings of helplessness and dereliction of duty. . . . ” He displays a deep compassion for the child he will never father and the mother of his child. And even while feeling guilt over being party to “the thoughtless and criminally careless conception of a child” and anger for having no choice over what happened next, he expresses a profound sense of regret that he could not protect his girlfriend from the “violent procedure. . . . Such a cold, soulless, and brutal experience.”
His empathy and decency and depth are a wakeup call to a culture hostile to fatherhood. Parker praises a glorious gift and warns a culture that’s in danger of losing something so strong and good:
Given that men can’t experience pregnancy or the bonding that women experience during those nine months, their emotional involvement in a fetus — Latin for “child,” incidentally — is always a choice of spirit. I’ve long marveled that men can become as involved as they do with something of which they are not physically a part. Or aren’t they? Is it just fanciful for a man to say, “Our child is a part you, part me?” The woman again, decides how men are allowed to feel about their own babies. That men more often than not charge forth to be fathers to their offspring is a gigantic miracle of heart, mind, and spirit that exposes our minimizing of fatherhood for the travesty — and the lie — that it is.
Save the Males is about protecting that miracle. It’s essential women’s work.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online and a nationally syndicated columnist.