A Double Standard


OnCommonGround was given the exclusive right to excerpt this essay from the anthology, Rethinking Responsibility: Reflection on Sex and Accountability, published by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. For more OnCommonGround excerpts in this series click here.

If a girl gets the HPV vaccine, she might have sex. If a girl has
too much sex, she is a slut. If a girl has unprotected sex, she could
get knocked up. If a girl likes sex, she could turn into a nympho.

The way we handle sex and sexuality, you would think young women were
doing it with themselves. Lectures about making wise sexual decisions
focus stern eyes on young women and give but a darting glance to young
men: “dude, where’s your condom?” But you can’t address sexual
responsibility without also examining young men’s sexual choices, and
all too often that’s left out of the equation.

We all read
the story about the girl giving oral sex to multiple guys on the back
of a bus — and the articles were all framed the same: what is wrong
with young women’s sexuality? No one thought to ask, what is wrong with
young men’s sexuality? Why did so many guys think it was okay to
receive oral sex in the back of a school bus from a girl who had just
gone down on fi ve of his friends? But what if the story was reversed?
Say there was a young man who was giving oral sex to multiple girls on
the back of a bus. I’d be willing to bet that our concern would still
be with the girl’s behavior, and not the boy’s. The articles would be:
why are girls receiving oral sex in such a casual environment? Do they
not worry about getting an STI from a guy who’s gotten busy with half
the cheerleading squad? We may not condone the irresponsible sex acts
of guys, but we do accept them.

The other thing we accept
is that guys will treat girls badly. We prepare women for this
inevitability by warning them that guys are out for only one thing. We
say men are jerks who can’t stand commitment and don’t value emotional
intimacy (even though, ironically, studies have indicated that husbands
are more happily married than their wives, and it’s more diffi cult for
men to heal emotionally after a break up). We tell girls that young men
are careless beings who engage in sex and feel nothing. And instead of
deterring sexual activity, these stereotypes do two things: first, it
lets guys off the hook. These ideas make clear that we have no
expectation for men to be emotionally or physically responsible in
regards to sex. Second, they inadvertently encourage young women to act
just as sexually irresponsible as we perceive young men do. In a world
where girls can do anything guys can, why would a girl want to be the
one taking sex seriously and getting screwed over when she could
instead see sex as something emotionally void and “no big deal.”

If we want young people to take responsibility for their sexual choices
and reproductive health, we must demand the same of men that we demand
of women. Teach young men that they are expected to be caring partners
who are informed about contraception and that they are expected to
think carefully about with whom and when they have sex. Teach young
women to expect more out of a guy than just a sex seeking robot. That
way, when young women are making sexual choices, they’ll know the way
to a man’s heart isn’t only through his fly. Because sex is something
men and women do together, we need to be taught the same information,
share the same responsibility of preventing unwanted pregnancies and
STIs, and be held to the same moral standards.

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  • independentminded

    This:

    If we want young people to take responsibility for their sexual choices and reproductive health, we must demand the same of men that we demand of women. Teach young men that they are expected to be caring partners who are informed about contraception and that they are expected to think carefully about with whom and when they have sex. Teach young women to expect more out of a guy than just a sex seeking robot. That way, when young women are making sexual choices, they’ll know the way to a man’s heart isn’t only through his fly. Because sex is something men and women do together, we need to be taught the same information, share the same responsibility of preventing unwanted pregnancies and STIs, and be held to the same moral standards.

    says it all, in a nutshell, Amber. Unfortunately, however, with regards to responsibility for sexual choices, or lack of it thereof, there are an awful lot of adults who have the same sort of irresponsible attitudes towards sex that a lot of teenagers do, and that’s a big part of the problem. Our society has long been breeding adolescents whose imaginations are way, way ahead of their physiological, psychological and emotional growth, and the fact that the majority of American boys (and girls, too), whoever they may be, have had sexual relations by the time they’re Seniors in high school," even before they’re ready, is a strong indication of that

  • paul-bradford

    If we want young people to take responsibility for their sexual choices and reproductive health, we must demand the same of men that we demand of women.

     

    …and there’s a good way to start, which is to penalize any man who impregnates a woman against her will.  Rather than simply give lectures to boys and men, let them know that — in the event a woman finds herself carrying his child — he can be made liable to compensate her for the pain and suffering of dealing with an unintended pregnancy.  Nature puts women in the position of needing to care about getting pregnant unwillingly — the law ought to put men in the position of caring as much as women about avoiding bringing a child into the world who doesn’t have two parents who are prepared to raise her/him.

     

    This would not only be good for women, it would be good for the unborn.  If we took this measure, the abortion rate would go down substantially. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

    • grayduck

      "penalize any man who impregnates a woman against her will."

       

      Wisconsin does that already. Under the state’s statutes, any rape resulting in pregnancy is treated as a first-degree rape. I think that is an excellent way of suppressing the number of abortions resulting from rape.

       

      "If we took this measure, the abortion rate would go down substantially."

       

      The statistics that I have seen suggest that as few as one-half of one percent of aborted pregnancies result from rape. As a result, I suspect that your optimism is a little excessive.

       

      http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • crowepps

    Isn’t this just the equivalent of making ‘fornication’ illegal again?

     

    After putting the women in this position of power over the man (owed compensation), how do we protect her from the man’s ‘taking care of the problem’ through violence?  The leading cause of death for pregnant women is partner violence.

     

    Personally, I think a far more workable scheme would be if a woman is impregnated when she was unwilling and she gave birth to the child, then the man responsible would be sentenced to a vasectomy.  The undedrlying assumptions are that he had already replaced himself genetically once and that it isn’t good for society to allow anyone so irresponsible to so twice.

    • paul-bradford

      Isn’t this just the equivalent of making ‘fornication’ illegal again? 

       

      That all depends, I suppose, on whether you think it’s possible to have sex and still avoid pregnancy.  From the stories I hear most of the women who have unintended pregnancies might have avoided those pregnancies if they and their partners had been more careful or more informed.

       

      The woman who doesn’t want to have a child makes herself vulnerable to pain and suffering if she gets pregnant.  This is an inevitable consequence of human biology.  My suggestion is that we make the pain and suffering of men equal to that of women.  That would double the likelihood that couples would be careful.  For some couples "careful" would mean abstinence.  For others it would mean effective use of birth control.  

       

      I’m not big on controlling people.  I don’t think it works.  I do think that a fair allocation of responsibility does work.  Some people think that when a woman commences an unintended pregnancy she is being punished by God for having sex.  I look at things differently.  Instead of thinking about reward and punishment, I think about cause and effect.  The unhappy effects of unintended pregnancy are often caused by carelessness and ignorance.  Since both the man and the woman share in the cause they should also share in the effect.  To me, that’s what is meant by taking responsibility.

       

       

      Paul Bradford

      Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    Heh! Bad Crowepps! Bad, bad. But actually, I’m with Paul. Except I think women should get to set their own price, starting at 500K for the gestation/delivery, with pain and suffering costs to be determined later.

  • grayduck

    I agree completely with the essay.

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • crowepps

    Rape is a person forcing another to have sex against their will. This is an entirely different subject than men impregnating women against their will. Sexual responsibility would include the concept of men taking the initiative to keep their sperm to themselves unless a pregnancy is planned. The traditional method of women welcoming the sex but getting 100% of the burden of defending themselves from the sperm obviously isn’t working well. Having TWO people trying to prevent an unwanted pregnancy should result in lowering the abortion rate by half.

  • grayduck

    "Rape is a person forcing another to have sex against their will. This
    is an entirely different subject than men impregnating women against
    their will."

     

    What detail am I overlooking in this discussion? How is it possible for a man to impregnate a woman against her will without raping her? Are you talking about tying up a woman and using some device to inject sperm into her vagina?

     

    "Sexual responsibility would include the concept of men taking the
    initiative to keep their sperm to themselves unless a pregnancy is
    planned."

     

    How is it possible for a man to inject sperm into a fertile woman’s vagina without planning a pregnancy? What else would he be planning; childlessness? 

     

    "The traditional method of women welcoming the sex but getting 100% of
    the burden of defending themselves from the sperm obviously isn’t
    working well. Having TWO people trying to prevent an unwanted pregnancy
    should result in lowering the abortion rate by half."

     

    I agree. Note that the only scientifically proven method of getting men to help deter pregnancies is by aggressively enforcing generous child support orders.

     

    http://www.uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=10608

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • frolicnaked

    How is it possible for a man to impregnate a woman against her will without raping her?

    – Man and woman decide to have sex, agree on condoms as chosen method of contraception:

    –In excitement/"the heat of the moment"/irresponsibility/etc., initial penetration happens before the condom is put on.

    – In putting on the condom, the tip is not pinched, creating no "reservoir" for the semen, resulting in leakage after ejaculation.
    – In withdrawing, fails to grasp the condomed penis firmly, resulting in semen spilled in the vagina or on the vulva.
    – Does not disclose that chosen condom has been kept in a wallet since 1992, has been bent and subjected to heat multiple times, and is likely well past its expiration date.

    More available upon request.  

  • crowepps

    How is it possible for a man to inject sperm into a fertile woman’s vagina without planning a pregnancy? What else would he be planning; childlessness?

    It’s been my personal experience that there is no ‘planning’ involved whatsoever beyond orgasm, and that in most cases if there is his ‘plan’ is that ‘she’ll take care of it’.

  • grayduck

    Me, GrayDuck: "How is it possible for a man to impregnate a woman against her will without raping her?"

     

    frolicnaked: "Man and woman decide to have sex, agree on condoms as chosen method of contraception:
    –In excitement/’the heat of the moment’/irresponsibility/etc., initial penetration happens before the condom is put on."

     

    In Minnesota, consent to sex is defined as "[W]ords or overt actions by a person indicating a freely given present
    agreement to perform a particular sexual act with the actor." If the agreement was to engage in sexual intercourse with initial penetration occurring after the condom is put on, the man’s actions would violate the agreement and therefore constitute rape. If the agreement was to engage in sexual intercourse with initial penetration occurring before or after the condom is put on and the pregnancy would not have occurred if the condom was put on before initial penetration, then the woman is as responsible for the pregnancy as the man. But in that case, the original premise of punishing the man for impregnating the woman against her will would make little sense. How could you claim that the woman has been impregnated against her will while pursuing punishment for the man when both the man and the woman are equally and jointly responsible for the pregnancy?

     

    https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=609.341&year=2008

     

    "In putting on the condom, the tip is not pinched, creating no ‘reservoir’ for the semen, resulting in leakage after ejaculation."

     

    Similar questions apply.

     

    "In withdrawing, fails to grasp the condomed penis firmly, resulting in semen spilled in the vagina or on the vulva."

     

    Again, similar questions apply.

     

    "Does not disclose that chosen condom has been kept in a wallet since
    1992, has been bent and subjected to heat multiple times, and is likely
    well past its expiration date."

     

    Even if you could get past the question of whether the situation constituted rape, you are left with the question of whether the disclosure is obligatory or not. If it is obligatory, then he has committed an act of fraudulent misrepresentation. That would be a separate crime from impregnating a woman against her will. If disclosure is not mandatory, then how can you penalize him for it?

     

    I am also still puzzled by crowepps’s claim that impregnation against the will  of the woman is "an entirely different subject" from rape. How could rape impregnation not be against the will of the woman?

     

    Now that I look again at Paul Bradford’s proposal, I think he was just talking about child support.

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • grayduck

    "[t]here is no ‘planning’ involved whatsoever beyond orgasm…"


    The American Heritage Dictionary defines a plan as "A scheme, program, or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objective: a plan of attack."  In this case the scheme would be the act of sexual intercourse, and the pregnancy is caused by the act of sexual intercourse, so how could you deny that the pregnancy was part of the plan? I think you could argue that it was not the objective, but not that it was not part of the plan.

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • crowepps

    The ‘scheme/program’ is to have sexual contact, pleasure is the objective, and pregnancy is an unwanted by-product which both parties should make attempts to prevent. Having an accident is not usually part of the ‘plan’ of driving a car to the store, although obviously without the driving, the accident wouldn’t happen.

  • crowepps

    I am also still puzzled by crowepps’s claim that impregnation against the will of the woman is “an entirely different subject” from rape. How could rape impregnation not be against the will of the woman?

    I will try to make it more clear. Rape is the refusal of SEX. Unwilling impregnation is a refusal of PREGNANCY. They are not the same thing. A woman can agree to have sex, negotiate birth control methods with the man, and then he can UNILATERALLY fail to follow through resulting in a resultant pregnancy which he was RESPONSIBLE to prevent and failed to prevent.

    A couple agrees to have sex but does NOT want a resultant pregnancy and the man through carelessness or by intent impregnates a woman who agreed to sex but did NOT agree to impregnation. He is guilty of inpregnating her against her will even if she agreed to have sex. Abusive husbands have been known to restrict the ability of their wives to escape them by sabotaguing their birth control (pin holes in diaphragms/replacing birth control pills with baby aspirin/having the condom ‘slip’). Women can and do consent to sex for pleasure while doing everything they can to prevent pregnancy. In my opinion it is unethical for a man to leave all the responsibility for birth control to women and each partner should use a method so that they are doubly safe.

    I cannot IMAGINE how you could have misunderstood me but obviously if a man rapes a woman who does not want to be pregnant and as a result she is impregnated he is guilty of ignoring BOTH her refusal of sex AND her unwillingness to be impregnated.

    If a man rapes a woman but she escapes pregnancy he is still guilty of rape because he ignored her refusal of sex.

  • grayduck

    "I will try to make it more clear. Rape is the refusal of SEX. Unwilling
    impregnation is a refusal of PREGNANCY. They are not the same thing. A
    woman can agree to have sex, negotiate birth control methods with the
    man, and then he can UNILATERALLY fail to follow through resulting in a
    resultant pregnancy which he was RESPONSIBLE to prevent and failed to
    prevent."

     

    But again, if the birth control method was part of the agreement to engage in sexual intercourse and he failed to carry through, then he has committed rape. He never gained genuine consent for the specific sexual act in which he participated. If the birth control method was not part of the agreement, then how can you say that the pregnancy was against her will?

     

    "A couple agrees to have sex but does NOT want a resultant pregnancy and
    the man through carelessness or by intent impregnates a woman who
    agreed to sex but did NOT agree to impregnation. He is guilty of
    inpregnating her against her will even if she agreed to have sex."

     

    Look, I completely agree that the criminal justice system should hold men accountable for impregnating women, but I have found by debating this issue online that people will not tolerate the delusion that women are not responsible for their pregnancies even though they consented to the act of sexual intercourse. Even if birth control was part of the agreement, the woman is still partially responsible because contraception is not one-hundred percent effective. Many forms of contraception, like barrier methods and oral contraceptives, are nowhere near one-hundred percent effective.

     

    "I cannot IMAGINE how you could have misunderstood me but obviously if a
    man rapes a woman who does not want to be pregnant and as a result she
    is impregnated he is guilty of ignoring BOTH her refusal of sex AND her
    unwillingness to be impregnated."

     

    But that does not answer my question. How could rape impregnation not be against the will of the woman?

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • crowepps

    "if a man rapes a woman who does not want to be pregnant and as a result she is impregnated he is guilty of ignoring BOTH her refusal of sex AND her unwillingness to be impregnated."

     

    But that does not answer my question. How could rape impregnation not be against the will of the woman?

    I thought my sentence cleared up your MISUNDERSTANDING of my first post but maybe I need to use very simple language.  Yes, impregnating a woman during a rape is "against her will", both as to rape and as to impregnation.  Impregnating a woman during CONSENSUAL sex for pleasure where conception is NOT desired is ALSO "against her will".

     I have found by debating this issue online that people will not tolerate the delusion that women are not responsible for their pregnancies even though they consented to the act of sexual intercourse. Even if birth control was part of the agreement, the woman is still partially responsible because contraception is not one-hundred percent effective. Many forms of contraception, like barrier methods and oral contraceptives, are nowhere near one-hundred percent effective.

    Consent to sex is NOT consent to pregnancy.  The purpose of sex is NOT always pregnancy but far more often pleasure.  Women are only responsible for the part of the anti-conception which is under their own control.  Men are SEPARATELY responsible for any conception when they don’t use birth control.  Using TWO types of birth control is much safer and decreases the failure rates.

     

    I wasn’t aware that there was a requirement that laws affecting the general public should be ‘tolerated by people on-line’.  The beliefs of anonymous posters as to what is ‘delusion’ may be persuasive to you, but their inability to ‘tolerate’ things is irrelevant to the constitutional rights of others.

  • grayduck

    "Women are only
    responsible for the part of the anti-conception which is under their
    own control."

     

    Women can exert control over the behavior of men by refusing to enter into sexual relations without the male partner taking precautions to reduce the chance of pregnancy. If she consents to sexual intercourse- whether or not the man takes precautions- she consents to the possibility of the man impregnating her. Again, no form of contraception is one-hundred percent effective.

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • crowepps

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion just as I’m entitled to disagree with you. I do not believe women should be placed in a position where they must assume all sexual contacts are adversarial and be expected to “control…the behavior of men” and I don’t believe that men should be let off the hook from providing their own form of birth control and allowed to assume that contraception is not their problem. No form of contraceptive is 100% effective, however the risk is obviously less if BOTH partners accept responsibility and use the Buddy System. There’s an article at Scarleteen that provides stats on the extra margin of safety achieved with two methods:

    http://www.scarleteen.com/article/pink/the_buddy_system_effectiveness_rates_for_backing_up_your_birth_control_with_a_second_me

  • grayduck

    "You’re certainly entitled to your opinion just as I’m entitled to
    disagree with you. I do not believe women should be placed in a
    position where they must assume all sexual contacts are adversarial and
    be expected to ‘control…the behavior of men’ and I don’t believe that
    men should be let off the hook from providing their own form of birth
    control and allowed to assume that contraception is not their problem.
    No form of contraceptive is 100% effective, however the risk is
    obviously less if BOTH partners accept responsibility and use the Buddy
    System. There’s an article at Scarleteen that provides stats on the
    extra margin of safety achieved with two methods: …"

     

    None of this commentary addresses the question. The question was how anyone can claim that a woman was unwilling to become pregnant when she consented to the sex act that resulted in the pregnancy. You are trying to claim that men should be more responsible for their sexual behavior, but your claim at issue does the opposite. It allows a man to claim that he impregnated a woman "against his will" because he made a half-hearted attempt to reduce the chance that a pregnancy would occur (used a condom or other contraceptive method). That result is contrary to the author’s argument that we should "Teach young men that they are expected to be caring partners
    who…are expected to
    think carefully about with whom and when they have sex."

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • crowepps

    I have answered that but you seem unable to make the necessary conceptual leap to grasp that my answer separates "agreeing to sex" from "agreeing to pregnancy" because you believe the two are or should be always inextricably linked. Other people do not link them as you do. Even NATURE does not link them as you do, since a woman is fertile only a small percentage of time and yet the current status of her fertility cycle has no connection to her willingness to engage in or desire to have sex.

     

    Many, MANY people have sex when they believe there is no possibility of pregnancy (by themselves, after sterilization, with the same sex, when the woman has completed menopause) or when they feel fairly secure they can prevent pregnancy (using reliable birth control, it’s a ‘safe time’, withdrawal). There are OTHER REASONS for having MOST of the sex that occurs.

     

    As I said, you are entitled to believe that "a woman is willing to become pregnant if she consents to the sex act", or as the ‘moral’ phrase it, "pregnancy is her just punishment for having sex". Personally I disagree because that certainly isn’t obvious to me, but rather contradicted by overwhelming evidence of the woman’s UNwillingness such as the desire for birth control.

     

    Your argument about male responsibility seems to be that since there is a possibility of birth control failures if men use them incorrectly, men shouldn’t be expected to use birth control at all, because any attempt to encourage them to assume responsibility might give them an ‘excuse’ to declare that they are ‘unwilling fathers’.  Seems to me that right now they aren’t encouraged to be responsible, they aren’t expected to use their own birth control 100% of the time, and they already make those declarations by declaring that failures in HER birth control are "a trick to extort child support and impose slavery".

     

    It’s going to be hard for you to engage in conversations here unless you can grasp that the purpose of this forum is to solve real world problems in a way acceptable to most (but not all) of those involved by COMPROMISE.  Frankly, stamping out sex by imposing and enforcing draconian punishments has been tried by various cultures in various ways for thousands of years and discovered to NEVER WORK.  It’s a fringe position, just like ‘no abortion even if the woman’s dying’ or ‘anencephalic fetuses have a right to grow larger before dying’, and those fringe positions are pretty boring subjects for discussion.

  • grayduck

    "As I said, you are entitled to believe that ‘a woman is willing to become pregnant if she consents to the sex act’…"

     

    This quotation is a misattribution. Many of the other claims made in the post are false.

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • crowepps

    “The question was how anyone can claim that a woman was unwilling to become pregnant when she consented to the sex act that resulted in the pregnancy. …

    Submitted by GrayDuck on August 30, 2009 – 11:55am.”

    Well, there’s the statement (stated in the reverse) and there’s your name under it, so how is it a ‘misattribution’? If your irritation is because I restated it in the positive you might note that I enclosed that restatement within single ‘ rather than the ” which indicate a direct quote. My understanding of the sense of this sentence (with your other posts) is that you feel that people should NOT be able to claim this because the reverse is true – consenting to the sex act is consent to the impregnation. Certainly it would be pointless to discuss ‘why can people claim’ since anybody can claim anything no matter how bizarre or incredible or unsupported by the facts. If I’ve misunderstood your position on the issue, please clarify.

    “Many of the other claims made in the post are false.”

    Since the post includes quite a bit, some of which is my position, some of which is my understanding of your position and some of which is fact, which ones? Do you have different facts to present or have I stated your position incorrectly? How does your position differ from what is stated? Is there a part of my position that’s unclear? The whole point of discussion is to continue until we are both clear as to the others position, true?