Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Power of Men's Tears


The LA Times alerts us to the plight of "post-abortive men," who are suffering unjustly and intolerably from their lack of control over other people's bodies:

Jason Baier talks often to the little boy he calls Jamie. He imagines this boy -- his son -- with blond hair and green eyes, chubby cheeks, a sweet smile.

But he'll never know for sure....Baier, 36, still longs for the child who might have been, with an intensity that bewilders him.
As well it might. You don't have to be a psychologist to suspect that Baier's fixation is indicative of larger problems, and that they existed long before he reveled in the ejaculation that got his fiancee pregnant.

But in a world where misogyny is routinely confused with morality, pathology can easily pass for principle:
These days, he channels the grief into activism in a burgeoning movement of "post-abortive men." Abortion is usually portrayed as a woman's issue: her body, her choice, her relief or her regret. This new movement -- both political and deeply personal in nature -- contends that the pronoun is all wrong.

"We had abortions," said Mark B. Morrow, a Christian counselor. "I've had abortions."
Who on earth cares if this madness is "deeply personal"? Like the maudlin description of Baier's "child who might have been" (behold childhood innocence at its most beatific!), this language comes perilously close to glorifying, or at least mainstreaming, a reaction that's basically pathological. Sane people don't "talk often" with aborted children, any more than they celebrate Hitler's birthday or wash their hands twenty times per hour.

I'm actually in favor of support groups for "post-abortive men," so long as they aim to assuage inappropriate grief and rage and textbook Freudian melancholy, instead of intensifying and exploiting them. You'll never guess which approach Morrow favors:
The activists leading the men's movement make clear they're not relying on statistics to make their case. They're counting on the power of men's tears.
And God knows these men have plenty to cry about:
Morrow, the counselor, described his regret as sneaking up on him in midlife -- more than a decade after he impregnated three girlfriends (one of them twice) in quick succession in the late 1980s.
Alright, then. Two decades after this fellow saw fit to behave like some jizz-spraying version of Johnny Appleseed, he wants society to acknowledge and honor his pain...not because he made a mess of three women's lives, mind you, but because he woke up one day wishing he'd forced them to bear and raise his children. First he wanted sex, and now he wants sanctity; either way, no sacrifice is too great for Modern Womanhood to make.

Here's another cute anecdote:
Chris Aubert, a Houston lawyer, felt only indifference in 1985 when a girlfriend told him she was pregnant and planned on an abortion. When she asked if he wanted to come to the clinic, he said he couldn't; he played softball on Saturdays. He stuck a check for $200 in her door and never talked to her again.

Aubert, 50, was equally untroubled when another girlfriend had an abortion in 1991. "It was a complete irrelevancy," he said. But years later, Aubert felt a rising sense of unease.
It's sad that so many people would see this as evidence of moral progress, or at least a change of heart. It isn't. Aubert's "unease" is even more pathological than his indifference; it's progress only in the medical sense, like the progress from primary to tertiary syphilis. His post-abortive regret - which seems to be based on the crude assumption that he had some all-compelling power he failed to exercise - demonstrates perfectly why abortion must remain legal, and why men should never be given a formal right to decide whether a woman can have one.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, guys. I'm suffering from PMS right now, and my bitch of a wife won't bring me a Midol.

(Illustration: "Crying Man" by Kauzya Akimoto.)

7 comments:

CKR said...

Thank you, Phila.

maymay said...

His post-abortive regret - which seems to be based on the crude assumption that he had some all-compelling power he failed to exercise - demonstrates perfectly why abortion must remain legal, and why men should never be given a formal right to decide whether a woman can have one.

Oh, hell yes. Rock on!

Jean Lafitte said...

I sense sublimated misogyny. Many, many intended and desired pregnancies end in miscarriage, as a woman's body can recognize a non-viable fetus and call it quits. Do the would-be fathers in these cases brood and sulk about what color the kid's hair would have been? Not likely.

These guys are brooding and sulking because they see this as something that was done to them, and that offends their sense of masculine prerogative. How dare that bitch put an end to something I started!! And since Real Men Aren't Afraid To Cry, we end up with strong masculine tears in service of bruised male egos.

One definition of sentimentality is "unearned emotion." These guys are wallowing in it.

[Note: My nom de blog is the French zhohn not the English jeen. That means I'm a guy and this shit still offends me.]

Mr. Negativity said...

I was just wondering if grief was inappropriate for everyone, or all males, in all situations, or just pertaining to abortion? I believe, having been on the male side of a medically necessary abortion (it was an ectopic pregnancy), that my sense of grief was justified...was it not? Men shouldn't be able to tell a women whether or not she can abort, I agree. I do not agree with your incorrect and unfair generalization that a man is psychotic for having "inappropriate grief". Your opinion of the support groups sounds dangerously similar to the idea that being gay is an inappropriate emotion and that one only needs counseling to deprogram the obvious mental flaw. Both ideas sound entirely ludicrous to me.
By the way, when is it appropriate to grieve?

Anonymous said...

The baby was made by the man and the woman and it's murder surely affects them both whether 'Modern Womanhood' agrees or not

Phila said...

I was just wondering if grief was inappropriate for everyone, or all males, in all situations, or just pertaining to abortion?

Neither.

I believe, having been on the male side of a medically necessary abortion (it was an ectopic pregnancy), that my sense of grief was justified...was it not?

Sure. But I assume you can see some differences between grieving because your wife was forced to end a (presumably) planned and desired pregnancy for medical reasons, and grieving because you didn't prevent a woman from exercising her legal rights over her own body a decade ago.

Men shouldn't be able to tell a women whether or not she can abort, I agree.

Glad to hear it.

I do not agree with your incorrect and unfair generalization that a man is psychotic for having "inappropriate grief".

Well, since "inappropriate grief" in this context is pretty clearly defined as morbidly obsessing over a decision that you and I both agree a man should not be able to make for a woman, to the point that it's interfering with the man's functioning years later -- and since no one used the specific term "psychosis" but you -- I'm not going to let this bother me too much.

If it's your position that it's normal and healthy to talk to aborted fetuses, fine. I think it's disturbing and sad, myself.

Phila said...

The baby was made by the man and the woman and it's murder surely affects them both whether 'Modern Womanhood' agrees or not

No one has ever said that it doesn't or shouldn't affect them both. But it affects one of them much. MUCH more than the other, whether "Traditional Manhood" agrees or not.

I'm sure it's very nice to imagine that you can stake your claim on a woman's body by ejaculating into her, like a dog marking its territory by pissing on a fireplug. But the law, thank God, tends not to agree.