The Pregnancy Problem Revisited: We Can’t Forget About Gender

I’ve been meaning to write about this story for a while, even though it’s far afield from recent threads.  I think of this as a reminder that, however much we want to believe in the possibility of being gender-blind, we have to think about gender when we think about parenthood–or at least, about becoming parents.

The Delhi School, a Louisiana charter school, had a policy that pregnant students could not attend classes and that any student suspected of being pregnant had to take a pregnancy test or she was presumed to be pregnant and treated as such.   I gather the idea here was that students had to exhibit good character traits and teenage pregnancy is evidence of something less than good character. 

First off, let me note that the Delhi School has now changed its policy, presumably in response to the letter from the ACLU and the attention it received.   (The current policy can be found here, page 130.)  You might say this is an example of how the law (and appeal to law) can actually work–and that is a good thing.

But the problem is that while the school policy here is described as extraordinary, the thinking behind it is not.   (I also wonder whether what was extraordinary was the requirement of taking a pregnancy test if you were there was a suspicion of pregnancy.)

Here’s the thing–it’s not hard to imagine a code of conduct for students that forbids non-marital sex.   Certainly many parents would support such a code.   I’d expect to find that many schools, especially religious schools, have such a code.

When an unmarried young woman is pregnant it’s fairly clear that she violated the code.    (It’s possible that she used ART to become pregnant and that no sex was involved, but I’m confident that this isn’t the most typical explanation.)   And as pregnancy becomes apparent (which it usually does) the fact of her violation becomes increasingly obvious.

The prospect that the young woman would be both obviously pregnant and happy/successful in school (which I think would actually be a good thing in the grand scheme of things) could be seen to undermine the school’s policy.   I might even go a step further and say that it does undermine the policy.   So it’s pretty easy for me to see why school authorities would want to do something to stigmatize the pregnant woman–suspend her from school or bar her from events or something.  Maybe a scarlet letter would do–something that would convey some sense that crime doesn’t pay.

In the name of gender equality, a young man who violates the school code against non-marital sex should be treated similarly.   He, too, should be marked with the scarlet letter or forced to sit out activities or even stopped attending school.   (And would that be for the duration of the pregnancy?) Perhaps some schools actually do this.

The problem, of course, is that it is hardly obvious which young men have engaged in non-marital sex.   (It’s actually not obvious which young women did either–some of them won’t become pregnant.  But when a young woman does become pregnant it is obvious that she has violated the code.) Even mandatory pregnancy tests won’t reveal the male violators.

I can actually imagine a rationale for treating the young men differently.   Their violation of the code isn’t flagrant.   They are not parading around displaying proof that they violated the code the way the pregnant woman is.   In other words, they can pass as obedient and code-abiding students where the young women who are pregnant cannot.  Thus, their presence in class is not disruptive conduct in the same way that the pregnant woman’s is.    There isn’t the same need to exclude them.

I actually don’t see much wrong with this logic.  There are real and substantial differences between the position of the young man and the young woman, even where they are both responsible for the same pregnancy.   Her condition as expectant mother is obvious.  His condition as expectant (biological at least) father isn’t.

There’s really no way for a school to know all the students who may have violated the Code.   What’s happening here is that their picking to make examples of the most flagrant violaters–the ones effectively advertising their conduct.   And those just happen to be women.

It’s just another manifestation of the pregnancy problem.   Women get pregnant and men do not.   Even though women are not pregnant for most of their lives (and some women are never pregnant) this is a tremendously important difference that radiates out in countless ways.   Under the old policy, young women at Delhi School contemplating sex faced different consequences than did young men.   But the change in policy doesn’t really change this–women contemplating sex really do face different consequences than do men.




5 responses to “The Pregnancy Problem Revisited: We Can’t Forget About Gender

  1. See if I was having to argue in favor of this school’s policy I’d change the reasoning for the policy to state that public school is for minors who are not emancipated from their parent’s authority and being married does that so the married student would have to attend an adult continuation school being pregnant does that being a parent does that so they’d have to go to an adult continuation school.

    My Grand Aunt was kicked out of school here for sneaking and getting married at 15 or 16. The idea was you wanted to be an adult, go be an adult, this school is for kids. So high schools don’t let any old random adult come take classes just because they never graduated high school or just because they happened to test at a 10th grade level. Certainly this policy would go for boys who were Fathers also, The expectant father has 9 months until he is a Father just like expectant mother’s do but the expectant mother has a jump on the expectant Dad in terms of I guess like you said having it be visible that she’s no longer a child. So I suppose the smart thing to do if a school really wanted to maintain that policy would be spin it and advise her parents that their daughter needs to begin the transition into continuation school to finish her education and if the expectant father is identified then he should do the same.

    It is however not allowed anymore to separate pregnant girls from the rest of the student body because there is no child yet for her to be the mother of or for the expectant father to be the father of. Its just a girl with a physical condition that leads to birth.

  2. If a girl has become pregnant in no way does it mean that she has flouted the rules. She could have very likely been sexually assaulted. And she should not have to go and make that fact public in order not to be penalized. Flouting the rules publicly would mean publicly discussing or making obvious her continuing sexual activity.

  3. of course julie you know as well as I know that it was probably something less than biology that was motivating the diff btw the treatment of boys and girls- its the sexual double standard again that thinks boys having sex is just peachy while girls become dirty and tainted.

  4. Are you kidding me with this gender equality nonsense?

    Why should he be expected to do the same if there is absolutely no reason for it? If you want EVERYTHING to be “the same” then I’d be all for it. Let’s see, once the child is actually born… you know after the initial 9 months, for the following 18+ years nothing will be “the same” for the father. In fact your comment is so based on complete ignorance it’s really just goes to show how blinded you women are with the reality of the situation here.

    Let’s see once the kid is born, the female just went from having to deal with all the complexities of the birth to having the child, yes i know this. But let’s assume she hates the boy for whatever her reasons, he is screwed. From then on out there is NO GENDER EQUALITY WHATSOEVER!!! And it’s so completely disgustingly biased towards enriching the females life it’s destroying fathers everyday.

    So lets see what she gets, the kid to begin with. So she gets to be a loving mother and the boy has no rights whatsoever. Whether or not he is allowed to be involved is completely 100% dependent on whether or not she isn’t a selfish evil bitch or if she’s a mother thinking with her childs best interest.

    THis is to assume boy wants to be a part of the kids life. We could go on about this too. But let’s just say his likelihood to feel a certain way about this is heavily dependent on how we view the topic and in doctrine it in our culture. Right now fathers aren’t viewed as equal to mothers in the eyes of the court or in pop culture. They are viewed as stupid buffoons actually. The courts just view them as an open wallet with no importance placed whatsoever on parent involvement. If this is how you are treated and looked upon as, your likelihood of wanting to be a father declines. Expectations play a big part in who we all are culturally.

    Plus the money: and oh will she make BANK. Either she goes on welfare and makes a killing off of that, which screws him too because they expect him to pay for it. or once he works they take him for all he’s worth.Even if he isn’t working they will basically destroy and destroy him. Remove his license he probably just got, take away his passport, ruin his credit before he begins his adult life, levy any accounts he just opened as an adult or young adult, and if he’s really lucky depending on the state he’ll get thrown in jail. Child support (which isn’t truly child support, it is state economic support disguised as child supporting social service. I have 100% proof of this in case your wondering, ask) doesn’t care about how much he makes or if he makes nothing or whatever the circumstances are. Their goal the courts and them are to make the amount as high as humanly possible and to wiggle their way around as many policies as possible to make that happen. (read: not equal. And don’t talk to me about how much it costs to raise a child, I have raised my daughter alone with no help from any woman since she was 2 years old, her mother hasn’t called in 6 years. I have another daughter that is court ordered out of my life because of her lying parent alienating mother but I had her from infancy till 3 years old every weekend or so, plus I PAY child support and receive none. I know the costs of raising a child. It isn’t that much. I’m doing it on barely any money and PAYING these oppressors. Certainly must be nice to receive money. Hell I’d be loving life just breaking even here.

    Plus the girl gets the power. let’s not forget that. As an unmarried boy that has a child with a girl, she has been handed the power. THe government practically is her own private lawyer while the boy is treated not as a dad but as a hardened felon criminal.

    DId you say gender equality? Because where the hell is the gender equality after the 9 months of pregnancy? It’s nonexistent.

    But remember if the boy is a willing parent that doesn’t matter. It is ultimately in her court. All decisions run through her. The family courts in america practice gender discrimination every single day. This is known by everyone and widely accepted fact. Yet we all sit around and let our judges commit gender discrimination every single freaking day. I find this truly fascinating myself. I’m a victim of this myself as you probably can tell.

    Will we change our attitude as a culture toward fathers being idiots and made fun of who can’t do womens work and are lazy run-away deadbeats into what they really have been for 10,000 years prior to 1980? Fathers are by their TRUE nature:
    1. protectors
    2. disciplinarians
    3. fun-loving goofs
    4. wise
    5. level-headed

    I’d say traditionally that is what dads have always been the strong points when put up against mothers. I didn’t include “bread-winner” because women are that now too and it’s merely a money issue, not psychology issue.

    As a culture we have basically allowed and actually EXPECT women to do the things that fathers have always done. Women push other women do be BETTER than men. And they are cheered on by the masses to do this. It’s widely accepted and funny to make men and fathers out to non-thinking lazy do-nothing retards. Ha ha ha daddy can’t figure out how to pick up the kids again he forgot, oh dumb ol’ lazy dad.

    Plus dads aren’t pushed by anyone to do the work of women. Must scuff at it. Why? There is no mens movement underlining the cultural fabric of what it is to be a man and a father. Hell the courts define a deadbeat dad as one who doesn’t pay child support. That’s the governments definition.

    deadbeat dad – noun – a father who willfully defaults on his obligation to provide financial support for his offspring
    deadbeat, defaulter – someone who fails to meet a financial obligation
    Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.

    You do see the psychological message that is constantly being sent here right? Nothing is expected of fathers other than money. Fatherhood is not the prized thing to be cherished by all men as the pinnacle of being a man anymore. They aren’t treated as even viable parents that can even handle doing anything alone without mom by the media, pop culture, the courts, and of course amongst themselves. As a result of the dumbing down of fathers of course.

    So basically you could be an involved loving father and lose your job and suddenly you’re a deadbeat dad. In some states you could even get that cool wanted poster up. THey only go up in the mom requests it.

    Listen, I realize dads had it clearly a lot easier if they wanted to ditch the woman in the past. THis was not right by any stretch it was terrible researching epidemic levels. I was raised by a single mom as were many kids in the 80s. But the laws have changed and now men aren’t running away anymore simply because they can’t. They were running from the system not from their families. But there is no where left to run to.

    But YOu shouldn’t take an issue such as absent fathers, tag them a horrible name “deadbeat” and then use the media for a major propoganda spree vilifying dads for decades, and then when we get to the point where fathers want to have half custody and be a REAL parent have that taken away from them. Who the fuck is some judge who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground to sit there and tell most divorcing women that “yeah, you get the kids, you get all his money, you get the house, you get alimony, and he gets….well …. weekend visits and no money and a loser apartment somewhere. So sure you file for divorce it’ll be okay”.

    My point is the pendulum has been moved too far in the other direction. How dare you sit here and say the boy should be forced to do everything equal with the girl while she is pregnant and then once the kid is born throw that out the window and give her every advantage in the world. There is no guarantee that he will even get to see the kid at all. It’s totally dependent upon her and her attitude regarding it.

    Discrimination needs to be eliminated. The pregnancy is the only time for the rest of their lives that he will have any sort of “advantage” over her in terms of options. You want to sit her and whine and write about gender equality. How about we fix the bigger problem here… real actual living kids being brought into this world where if the two parents don’t want to raise the child together, then one parent is chastised and discriminated against by the government and media and everyone with the other parent having the world by their side and actually empowered to socially destroy the other by all means possible. It’s lunacy.

    Once you fix the real problems, then I’ll be totally on board with your gender equality proposal. Until then, you’re living in a feminist clouded mind.

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