Sunday, September 21, 2008

Autumn is Coming

Fall is my favorite time of year. The weather is beautiful. You get clear blue skies, low humidity, warm to cool days, and cool nights. It's sweater weather, but it's not cold enough to require a coat. There's football games and fall festivals as well as pumpkins and apple cider. The leaves change colors and the air smells good. What's not to like? So, I was happy to see some leaves starting to change when I was out this morning.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Walking Stick

I have already established my unfortunate propensity toward being a plant killer. Even though I can't manage to keep most "domesticated" plants alive, I live in a rural area where there are lots and lots of wooded areas and trees.

I love having so much "nature" around that I don't have to worry about killing, but all those trees come with something I don't like......bugs. I'm talking insects, people. In particular last spring I found a few wood roaches in my house. I can handle spiders or a few ants, but roaches? No, that I cannot handle. I had a traumatic roach infestation incident in the first apartment I lived in after college. I have barely recovered.

Due to my previous roach trauma, I opted to call the professionals when a few wood roaches made their way into my house (I sucked them up into the vacuum cleaner dust container and then flushed 'em). So now the bug guy comes every three months and sprays my place. There are no more roaches and that makes me very happy. I like the bug guy.

Unfortunately some innocent bugs get caught in the cross fire. For the next week or so after bug guy comes there is a collection of dead bugs to be found outside my door. This morning I discovered a dead walking stick. I have never seen a walking stick before, dead or alive. Poor thing.....he wouldn't have tried to come in my house like a guilty roach would, but he was exterminated anyway :(

On a brighter note, even after significant neglect on my part, one plant has managed to survive on my back deck, and even flower.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Poll Results

No, this is not a political poll.

Last week I commented on a post from this blog about this article titled That Was No Accident and started with the following statement: You two were careful, but somehow she got pregnant. It happens. Or not... Getting tricked into fatherhood by a woman hell-bent on getting pregnant is much more common than you think.

This post is going to be more than long enough so I’m not going to recount the post here though I do suggest you read it and the comments to fully understand what this post is about.

After reading MarkyMark’s commentary on the article it seemed to me that he thought that most women would find this sort of behavior acceptable and I wondered why he thought that, so I asked: Certainly the women in this article and women like them are utterly deplorable. I'm curious about one thing though. I got the impression (and perhaps incorrectly so) from the information about how many women get pregnant while "on the pill" (50/1000, or 5%) that it wasn't something that the majority of women are doing. Why do you feel that this is commonplace or that it represents the way a majority of women believe?

You can read the comments thread after the post that I linked above if you are interested, but the gist of his response was: It's quite possible that I'm wrong; it's possible that a majority of women DISAGREE with this, and that they wouldn't do something like this.

This started me thinking. In the past I have been sometimes surprised at the views of some women I know about men. So I wondered if I was wrong in my assumption that most of the women I know would find the behavior of the women in this article reprehensible. I decided to do an informal poll to find out.

I had 4 separate conversations with 10 women ranging from 22 to 45 years of age, some single, some married, some Christians, some not, some I am not certain what their faith is. I paraphrased each of the conversations as soon as I was able so I could recall them as accurately as possible. I’ve chosen pseudonyms for my “participants”.

Conversation with work friends #1 (WF1) and #2 (WF2) at lunch: Both are married, in their late 30s, believe in God but do not practice the Christian faith, and have children. WF1 has a pre-school boy and WE2 has 2 young adult step children.

Learner (L): Hey, I have a bit of an odd question for you
WF1: shoot
L: Let’s say there is a woman who has a boyfriend, or is dating a guy and decides she wants to get pregnant, but does not consult the man. Instead she tells him she is on birth control, when she is not, so she can get pregnant. What would you think about that?
WF1: That’s terrible, that would be wrong.
L: Okay, do you think he should have to pay child support for the fraudulently conceived child?
WF1: Hmm…..well if he thought she was protected and she manipulated him to get pregnant, no, that wouldn’t be fair.
Around this point in the conversation, one of my other work friends enters the room.
L: hey can I ask you an odd question?
Work Friend 2(WF2): (laughing) sure why stop now?
L: (laughing) are you trying to say that most of my questions are odd?! Okay, do you think it is right or wrong for a woman who is dating a man and who wants to have a baby to not talk to him about it, tell him she is “protected” when she really isn’t, so that she can get pregnant?
WF2: It’s wrong. Are you dating again?
WF1: (laughing) I was wondering the same thing when you asked me……
L: (laughing) No! Trust me, if and when I decide to date again there will probably be lots of angst that you will hear about well in advance.
WF1: Well that’s true….
L: (to WF2) So you would think of that as wrong?
WF2: yes, it’s wrong. It scares the sh#t out of me that (step-son’s girlfriend) is going to pull that on (step-son).
L: Okay, so do you think a man in that situation should have to pay child support?
WF2: Of course he should.
L: Even if the pregnancy is against his wishes and knowledge?
WF2: Yes, because there is always a chance that it will lead to pregnancy, there is no fool proof birth control except a vasectomy or keeping it in his pants. If he didn’t want to take the risk of her getting pregnant he should have had it snipped or not had sex with her.
WF1: True
L: That doesn’t seem fair to me. The reasoning “if you didn’t want to conceive a child you shouldn’t have had sex” never flies when a woman has an unexpected pregnancy.
WF2: Life isn’t fair
L: True, life isn’t fair but shouldn’t laws be fair? I mean the current laws give women all the protection but don’t protect men.
WF2: Child support laws protect the child.
WF1: That’s true, the child shouldn’t suffer because their mother is an idiot.
L: Okay, I agree that it isn’t the child’s fault too. But the child is protected only in certain circumstances. If a man decides he wants to be a father and tells his girlfriend that he has had a vasectomy but he hasn’t and she gets pregnant, the law gives her choice in the matter where it doesn’t give men.
WF2: No it doesn’t, let him have custody and she would have to pay child support. The child is protected in both situations by the law.
L: Actually the child is not protected in that scenario because the woman could chose to abort the baby and the law supports that choice. The law doesn’t protect the child from their mom choosing to abort them and also gives men no such choice.
WF2: Now hold on, that is a totally different question
L: No it isn’t….it is exactly the same thing. In both situations one partner lies to the other with the purpose of having a baby against the wishes of the other partner. If it is the woman who lies to the man he has no recourse, but if it is the man who lies to the woman, she has the option to abort the baby. How does the inequity in the law protect the child in that scenario?
WF2: Well, that depends on if you think a fetus is a child.
L: You know I think an unborn baby is a child.
WF2: Not everyone thinks that way
L: Ok, but that doesn’t change the fact that the law is inequitable because it protects the rights of women, but not the rights of men, and protects the rights of children only if their moms decide not to abort them.
WF2: If a man doesn’t like it he should keep it in his pants. (changes the subject)

My sister (LS), a 44 year old married Christian with 1 child, while on the phone as she was trying to wrangle her soon-to-be 3 year-old to go grocery shopping.

Learner (L): Hey I have a question for you, do you have time?
Learner’s Sister (LS): I have a few minutes, I’m trying to get (my niece) ready to go grocery shopping.
L: Is (my bro-in-law) going too?
LS: Yes, or I won’t survive (laughing)
L: Ok this is a hypothetical question. It has nothing to do with me.
LS: Ok
L: What would you think about a woman who had a boyfriend and she decided she wants to have a baby without discussing it with him, so she stops using birth control so she can get pregnant, but he thinks they are protected, and then she gets pregnant?
LS: Why are you asking me this?
L: It’s just something we discussed at work and I wanted to see what you think.
LS: Eeeww. I think that would be a bad idea.
L: A bad idea?
LS: Yeah, I mean that would be stupid and wrong.
L: Ok, how about this, should he pay child support?
LS: Oooh….that wouldn’t be right…..that is tough (I can hear my niece “Oh Mommy! Oh Mommy! Oh Mommy!) hang on a sec….someone is being ornery today.
L: Not my sweet niece!?
LS: Yes, she hit (the cat), and she hit mommy.
L: Oh my. I better let you go, but real quick, what do you think about the child support thing?
LS: Well it is wrong if she manipulated and lied to him to get pregnant…. it wouldn’t be fair. On the other hand the same thing could have happened even if she was on the pill. No form of birth control is 100% except not having sex so there is always a chance the woman will get pregnant when you have sex. You have to be responsible for whatever happens.
L: Ok, Thanks for indulging me, I’ll talk to you later.
LS: Sure, bye

My friend (LF), a single 45 year old Christian woman, over email:

L: What to you think of this hypothetical question: Let’s say there is a woman who has a boyfriend and she decides she wants to get pregnant, but does not discuss this with her boyfriend. Instead she tells him she is on birth control, but she stops using it so she can get pregnant. What do you think about that? And, do you think if she does get pregnant and has a baby that he should have to pay child support?

LF: WOW! Um... in answer to your question? To do that would be underhanded, deceptive and completely unethical. In fact, I'm not at all sure if I was on a jury in court (for this girl to sue to get child support from the guy) and this came out, that I'd rule in favor of her. But you know who would be hurt, of course.... THE CHILD!

A conversation with six unmarried/single female graduate students ages ~22-25 in a small group class while we were doing a learning activity that is more action than talk. Some students talked more than others. I am unaware of any of them being involved in the campus Christian group but I don’t know if any of these girls are practicing Christians or not.

L: Hey can I ask you guys a totally unrelated and somewhat odd question?
General assent given by the group of students…..
L: Let’s say a woman wants to get pregnant and she has a boyfriend but he doesn’t want to have a baby. She stops using birth control so she can get pregnant but her boyfriend thinks she is still on it. Maybe she even lies and tells him she is.
Several students: oooooo
Student 1 (S1): That is wrong.
S2: That would destroy the relationship, destroy the trust….how could he trust you?
S3: Yeah, that is terrible
S4: Well maybe if she was going to raise it alone without him
S2: What? That’s crazy, it’s his kid too.
S5: I don’t know, I can kind of see what S4 is saying, I mean if he is sure he doesn’t want kids? Then yes, it is wrong. But if he just isn’t ready maybe it’s ok….
S1: But how would you like it if a guy did that to you…told you he had a vasectomy but he didn’t so you’d get pregnant, I bet you wouldn’t like that!
S6: Yeah, you wouldn’t like it
S5: Hmm, ok, yeah, I wouldn’t want that. That would be bad.
S4: I see what you mean, it’s dishonest if you don’t talk about it first.
L: Ok, should he have to pay child support?
They all thought a minute and then nodded/said yes.
L: Even though she lied?
S4: It does sound kind of unfair but it could have happened even if she was still on birth control.
S5: Yeah, because you can’t pass the responsibility for birth control onto someone else. If you don’t want any chance of having a baby you shouldn’t have sex.
S2: Oooo that’s hard …..but my Dad always tells my brother that “there is no such thing as a girl on birth control, either you take care of it yourself or don’t have sex”. It sucks that some girls lie but you also have to be responsible for yourself.
S6: If he 100% didn’t want to have a baby he shouldn’t have had sex. He shouldn’t have to because she lied but the law says he has to.
S1: It isn’t the baby’s fault, it shouldn’t suffer.
L: (to S3) What about you, should he have to pay?
S3: Um…yes, but just because you shouldn’t punish the baby.

This was the usual pattern: I ask the woman the question, and most women (all but 2) immediately say it is wrong to get pregnant fraudulently. Regarding child support for the child in question, most agree it is unfair to the man but that the child should be protected. Most women also voiced the opinion that having sex means there is a chance pregnancy will occur.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sex in the City

Before last night I had never seen an episode, or even a part of an episode of Sex in the City. When it was on TV I didn’t have HBO and even if I would have had HBO it just wasn’t something I thought I would like. Last night I went to a friend’s house for “girls night”. I discovered we were going to start watching the season 1 DVD of Sex in the City. Not something I would have selected, but hey, it’s not my house. When I told the other girls that I had never seen the show they were all surprised and once again opined about how “sheltered” I am. They also assured me that I would love it and “get addicted”.

So, we watched the first 4 episodes. When my friend eagerly asked for my opinion I said “it’s ok, very predictable….eh.” I actually thought it was awful and sad but I didn’t feel like explaining that. It was just so stuffed with extremely stereotypic behavior and characters that it felt like a boorish caricature of life. You had the androgynous man-hating feminist attorney, the single girl who spends too much money on shoes, the cougar, the gay sidekick, and the “sensitive guy” among others. The men and women pretty much just took turns treating each other badly. My conclusion? If this show had any influence on men and women and how they think about and treat each other it is a great shame.