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Okeydokey, before anyone flips out. Yes, I'm a feminist, and yes, I'm in a happy relationship with a man. Yes, I'm a divorced mother, and no, I never saw a fraction of the court-ordered child support, and yes, I have kind of an axe to grind about that, and yes, I understand that men also get stiffed by noncustodial moms who don't pay child support (although at nowhere near the same ratio, if only because children statistically end up with their mothers more often, in non-nuclear family arrangements). No, I don't hate men, and no, I'm not blind to the many, many men at our pro-choice rallies and yes, I am grateful to those men and no, being a feminist does NOT mean holding men in contempt (for me) and no, I don't think all men watch football or fart and scratch in public rooms of the house or slurp beer or don't support their wives, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and daughters. Yes, I shave my legs and armpits at least twice a week (they don't grow fast).

And yes, I love my husband, who is my partner, too, and yes, I love and respect and appreciate his support.

And one more yes: my heartfelt applause to all the unsung heroes out there, the dads who never skip a payment, who go out of their way to remember birthdays and Christmases, who don't skip visitation or phone calls, who reach across the distance with their exes and continue to parent in the most loving and responsible way possible. My hat is off and my knee is bent, my head is bowed and my heart is filled with love for you dads. I see, firsthand, the heartbreak that you have spared your children. I wish mine had been spared the same.

That said:

Safety belt on? Helmet? Tongue firmly in cheek? Okay, blast-off.

Close your eyes, guys, and imagine this world: every act of condom-less sexual intercourse with a woman is likely to result in a baby.

You suddenly find that your condoms cost $50 a pack (for the good ones). Birth control is your sole responsibility. That right has been taken away from women; the clinics which provided pills and Depo shots are closed or hundreds of miles away. Birth control has been reduced to what you can purchase at Walgreens, off the Internet, or in bar and Stuckey’s bathroom dispensers (the machines don't accept bills smaller than a $10).

And it’s always, always, the man’s responsibility. Because the laws have changed and no woman may prevent or terminate a pregnancy. Every egg is sacred; every woman must procreate as the result of whatever type of sex: marital, rape, date-rape, casual—well, scratch that last one, because there's not a whole lotta casual tail going around. The sexual revolution for women comes crashing to a halt with the disappearance of birth control. Not only that, but even if you do slap a ring on that finger, if she miscarries, she will be arrested and jailed. So much for keepin' the old spark alive, sorry. Fear of Murder One, for some odd reason, is a total joykiller for your wife.

And, speaking of Georgia:

“That’s when she told me the story ’bout free milk and a cow, and said, “No huggy, no kissy until I get a weddin’ vow!”

 You know more about those monthly calendar days than you ever thought you would. Dude, you're all over those red-x days. All six of them, since she's no longer on the pill. Those halcyon days of light, two-day periods are done. But, yay, like a mini-Christmas once a month. Well, Christmas in a minefield, that is, because she tends to be surly and cry a lot during those days, and there's really no guarantee. But you got skillz. Or, you're getting them. Practice makes perfect, I guess. Try not to have a repeat of last month. Boy, that didn't end well. You don't even know what you said that she took the wrong way, but without her estrogen pills to regulate her hormones...holy hell, it was like The Exorcist or something. Better luck this month. Maybe some preemptive flowers? You just don't know.

Sucks for her? Sure. Sucks pretty hard for you, too. Relationships didn't used to be this stressful. When things got tense, you could always climb in bed and reunite. These days, you have to worry: what if I get her pregnant and the baby dies, and I'm the reason she goes to jail? Or what if something goes wrong and I lose her, and the kids grow up without a mother? The fun is gone and your hands start shaking two days before that first red X on the calendar. It's a set-up for more hurt between you, but it's all you've got to hope for, at least until she hits the change. By that time, the rate things are going, you may not be together, anyway. You could cut the hurt and rejection between you with a knife, these days. You know she's hurting, too. It would be so simple to reach out to her, but you can't afford another kid right now. The whole ship would sink.

What about that single life? The law says, "No woman may prevent or terminate any pregnancy" in this dystopian world. That means the rascal-wrapping is on you, every time, and you know as well as anybody that stuff happens and they don't always hold up. Especially now that their manufacture, like everything else, has been deregulated and the FDA defunded and disbanded. Any casual encounter could wind up with either contracting a disease and/or you getting slapped with a support order nine months after you’ve moved on with your life. And if-and-when that casual encounter applies for state aid (because raising a baby as a single mother is impossible without some sort of safety net), the full force of the law will fall upon you for child support enforcement.

(Believe it or not, that’s not always the case in the real world, despite all the laws currently in place to hold noncustodial parents accountable for child support. An estimated 49% of US child support cases result in zero payment or enforcement, to the tune of $103 billion per year, according to the most recent data I could find from 2004).

If you can’t pay, or weren’t prepared for the surprise of a bundle of joy, guess what? Off to a privatized prison for you, where you can expect to work for a private industry for prison-pennies a day (while the meter's still running on your child support, which you can't pay because you're locked up and can't work. Oh, sorry, that's another year for you).

Because, make no mistake. Child-support enforcement laws are on the books. When it’s time to clear the rolls of social safety-nets like Medicaid and WIC due to those draconian cuts, those unenforced child support laws will once again become a public rallying cry for Republicans and Democrats alike, especially once all birth control is unattainable. It mattered for a short time in 1999, when Jeb Bush campaigned on going after deadbeat noncustodial parents in order to woo women voters to his gubernatorial bid in Florida, the final tipping point for a demographic he had found difficult to reach. Of course, after a few high-profile busts, nary a word was heard again. Expect someone to pick up the mantle when it's time to pay for this ALEC-engineered baby boom we're about to see here in America, land of the not-so-free. Those privatized prisons will never run out of prisoners, as long as every bowmp-chicka-bow-wow ends up in a baby. There are so many avenues for criminalizing parents, it's a goldmine.

Enslaving women via their reproductive rights is just the first step toward enslaving more middle-class and poor men for their part in creating unintentional babies they can't support.

~zither music sfx~

So, where the hell are all you guys who say you love us and want us to stay healthy and cancer-and-STD-free, and not drop a baby every time we get physically intimate with you? Do you not realize that the Republican and Teabagger tactics of eroding our rights, defunding Planned Parenthood, and making our healthcare options illegal, uninsurable, and unattainable are going to have a huge and devastating impact on your lives, as well? This is not just a woman’s issue. You can’t duck out on us, now, guys. We need each other more than ever.

If you love us. If you respect us. If you foresee horrible things happening to families when they’re overburdened by irresponsible family planning. If you are happily married to one of us. If your children depend upon us. PLEASE. Stand up and join us. Be our protectors and partners in protecting ourselves, just like we stand up when we see injustices done to you. Join your voices with ours. Sign a petition, send a flyer, get involved. And when your buddies look at you and say, “Isn’t this a woman thing?” you just look them in the eye and say, “Why would I vote for something that hurts the women I love? This legislative agenda hurts me, too, and it has the potential to jeopardize everything I have ever worked for, including my freedom.”

I guarantee you, if you’re in a relationship with a woman who stands up for choice, you’ll get a lot more happy nookie if you stand up beside her and support her than if you sit on the couch and watch football while she’s out at her rally, carrying signs, shouting, singing, and sweating in the sun for the right to decide what to do with her uterus. It's sexy as hell to know that our birth control options and sexual health matter to you.

If you look around and realize that your wife or girlfriend is one of these women, ask how you can help. Support us. Take up our cause. Paint a sign. Vote with her. Don't tell her to back down for the sake of social propriety or because you're embarrassed. If you're afraid for her safety if she attends a rally, go stand beside her and don't let anybody take a swing at her. If you don't believe in abortion, at least believe in her right to make her own decisions about getting pregnant in the first place, and her right to keep her body parts healthy so she doesn't die from something that could have been easily caught and treated, had she been allowed OB/GYN care without the conservative government stepping in and imposing a Christian version of Sharia Law.

We're the first to admit that women cannot do this alone. We only ask you to help us because we love you and want to keep having consensual sex between adults with you.

Be our partners, so we can keep being yours.

***parts of this cross-posted on my other blog that nobody reads anyway

Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 6:18 PM PT: Newbie just found out what the Rec List is, and that this was on it. Thank you all so very much. I'm humbled and grateful for the responses and discussions that this diary has generated. Thank you, again.

Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 2:01 PM PT: Germane to the discussion, below:

Originally posted to Love and Kisses on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 12:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by Abortion.

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