There exists a phenomenon that happens to men and it often does not carry the social reaction I feel it deserves. Some women trick their male partners into procreation. Like so many other things people do, there are various reasons for this. Sometimes it is done as a misguided effort to save a failing relationship and sometimes it’s simply because a woman wants to have a child.
I had the opportunity to play the fly on the wall in observing this situation unfold around a friend of mine. He had been dating a girl for some months. Things were going well so he decided to buy a house and invite her move in with him. This decision made sense for him; he was living with his parents at the time but had a sizeable amount of savings and wanted to take advantage of a first time home-buyer’s tax incentive. She moved in as planned, he paid the mortgage and property taxes, and she paid the utility bills. All was well.
Then, one early Saturday morning while Brittany and I were having breakfast at a local diner, he called me with the news. His girlfriend was pregnant. In a panic, he asked me to come over. Brittany and I scarfed down our omelettes and rushed over to the home he shared with his now-pregnant girlfriend.
My friend and I sat at the picnic table in his back yard. He didn’t say much. His hands were trembling and he had that thousand yard stare that soldiers sometimes get after surviving combat. I became worried about him. He was an absolute wreck.
Meanwhile, his girlfriend was having a much different experience. If he was a soldier surviving combat, she was a woman who just won the lottery. She announced her pregnancy by bringing a stroller and some baby books into their living room. The items spoke for themselves and she was all smiles, seemingly more focused on the way in which she told him than the fact that she was pregnant with his child.
When Brittany and I left their house that morning, something seemed off to me. I could’ve attributed her attitude to time, after all she did have longer to digest the fact that she was pregnant. It still didn’t sit right with me.
The Birth Control Trick
Years later, after my friend married his girlfriend and after the birth of their second child, he candidly told me the truth. His then-girlfriend had stopped taking her birth control pills and intended to get pregnant all along. “It’s okay though, I probably would have never agreed to it if she didn’t trick me into having a baby,” he said.
Now it was me with the thousand-yard stare. I was horrified, disgusted, angry – and yet, I was relieved, even glad, that this was the outlook he chose to have because as his friend, I want him to be happy. After the birth of his third child, we have since grown apart as is common in the childfree/parent dynamic, but I like to think he is content in his new family unit. I like to think things worked out for the best.
In doing some research on this topic, I began to wonder how often a reversal of this situation happens. Do men, while in a consensual relationship with a woman, deceive their partners into believing contraception is being used? Sadly, yes. I discovered a disturbing trend called “stealthing,” in which a man discreetly removes his condom during or before sexual relations. This act is often associated with his desire for a heightened physical sensation but sometimes there is more to it. I read one woman’s account of confronting her partner. When she asked him why he did what he did, he replied “I wanted you to be the mother of my children.”
It takes two to tango – that much is true.. Any form of birth control has a statistical failure rate and both parties share responsibility for coital consequences. So when one person actively deceives the other and the result is potentially life-altering, it’s simply unacceptable. When actions knowingly exceed what is consented to, it can and should be considered sexual assault.
To knowingly deceive a partner in such a manner is to hijack someone’s life. The decision whether or not to have a child is something deeply personal. Everyone should have the right to make the choice for themselves considering the effects of such a decision are profound and last a lifetime. Everything from that person’s life stands to be changed when tricked into having a child- from finances to future relationships to even where you choose to live. And all of this occurs without the consent of the unsuspecting partner.
Do you know anyone that has been on either side of this situation? I’m interested in hearing your stories, and I feel that it’s a topic that deserves more conversation.