By Soumya Raj:
I often wish for men to go through the pain of childbirth. Motherhood, most sacred of all bonds, is considered more sacrosanct than fatherhood. After all, the umbilical cord has spared the father and all that he had to do was indulge in the act of procreation and contribute his sperm cells.
‘Feminist’ crusaders will discourage a father’s right to terminate his position. The least a man can do is be accountable for his own offspring, rather than viewing it as a liability. The child belongs as much to the mother as the father, despite the lack of physicality between the bringing forth of the child by the father. Once a man impregnates a woman, he has legally no say on whether or not the child can be aborted for it is solely the woman’s decision. Laurie Shrage of New York Times on the occasion of Father’s Day fiddles with this unsettled topic, sympathizing with those men who in a moment of passion lose all their “independence” and would much rather be boys left alone to play with their toys. Paternity is an intricate responsibility, for a child requires as much the compassion and care of a mother as it does the protection and guidance of a father. The question now arises whether or not the conditions of this responsibility can be met merely by providing a monthly fund or a forced presence of the father who would much rather invest his time and money somewhere else.
In India, if a woman in the state of judicial separation conceives a child with a man other than her husband, the child will still be entitled to carry the husband’s surname, and the husband also obligated to pay child support, should the mother demand it. Women have a lot of agency with regard to contraception. Even after the conception, provided the mother wants it, she can opt for a morning after pill, a medicated or, also a surgical abortion, irrespective of the father’s wish to whether or not have the baby. Contrarily, the father is rendered helpless, for when a pregnancy has happened, it is not in his control to ‘undo’ it. How fulfilling can such an absent parenthood be to the child, who knowing, he is not wanted by the father, has to grow up with it?
It involves hardly a moment to conceive a child. Men have reluctantly forfeited their sexual autonomy, bowing down to the society which commands them to sacrifice if not physically, at least monetarily and emotionally for the child which is his. It doesn’t matter if the man isn’t ready for it, if he doesn’t have much to pay for child support, or even if the mother would rather utilize the fund for her own benefit than the child’s. The decision to have a child should be made preferably, before the conception, than after the act of sexual intercourse. Parentage is much like volunteerism – one can’t be forced to if one doesn’t want to. The father is compelled to pay for the consequences of his ‘own’ actions, and the choice to avoid it simply doesn’t exist. We need to break off from the shackles of conventional parenthood and allow, if either one of the parent doesn’t want to, to step away from this responsibility, thus changing the way the society has through time glorified motherhood and devised various ways by which a father can match up to this glory.