You what?

From Melanie Mcdonagh.

DNA tests are an anti-feminist appliance of science, a change in the balance of power between the sexes that we’ve hardly come to terms with. And that holds true even though many women have the economic potential to provide for their children themselves……..

Now I can see that some men might rather welcome an end to the old-fashioned scenario whereby they find themselves held to account for the paternity of children born to girls with whom they just happen to have had sex. The actor Jude Law recently found himself in just this position, and unhesitatingly and ungallantly demanded a DNA test.

By contrast, the old situation, in which women presented men with a child, and the man either did the decent thing and offered support, or made a run for it, allowed women a certain leeway. The courtesan in Balzac who, on becoming pregnant, unhesitatingly sought, and got, maintenance from two of her men friends, can’t have been the only one. Uncertainty allows mothers to select for their children the father who would be best for them…….

The point is that paternity was ambiguous and it was effectively up to the mother to name her child’s father, or not…….Many men have, of course, ended up raising children who were not genetically their own, but really, does it matter?……But in making paternity conditional on a test rather than the say-so of the mother, it has removed from women a powerful instrument of choice.

Eh?

To note the shift in the power balance, fine. But to bemoan it seems, well, well odd really.

The subject has resurfaced lately, courtesy of a story in the Daily Mail, about a married television presenter who for years had been paying for the support of a child conceived, as he thought, as a result of his relationship with a writer. It seems that after meeting the child for the first time, he asked for a DNA test; it duly turned out that he was not, after all, the father.

In entirely unrelated news, Andrew Marr is still at the BBC and Alice Miles is at the New Statesman.

David Blunkett is doing something or other.

BTW, this appears to be a repeating subject for Ms. Mcdonagh. I\’ve no idea whether she has children or not but if she does then whoever thinks he is the father of them might want to start thinking a little. Multiple pieces in a number of different places (Speccie, Times, Eve Standard at least, from what I can see) all making exactly the same point might be considered a useful hint.

16 thoughts on “You what?”

  1. So let me see – this is one of the few areas where the drive to equality favours men over women, and Ms McDonagh decrees that its a bit unfair? Women should be allowed to defraud men for decades, by telling them that children are theirs when they are not, and thats all hunky dory?

    One begins to realise (rather late in the day unfortunately) that feminism is nothing to do with equality, and all about female domination.

  2. The basic argument is that lying, even if the consequences are colossal, is ok for women and that it is just so, like, UNFAIR to point it out.

    At the risk of upsetting feminists, this is a very female argument.

  3. “it has removed from women a powerful instrument of choice”.

    Or “instrument of power”, as rational people would term it.

  4. Dear Lord, this is sickening on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin.

    What about the actual biological father of the child, does he not get any say at all, or is it all down to the woman whether or not he is “suitable” ?

    And isn’t it fraud to extract money from someone under false pretences? This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if — invariably — the father of the child didn’t traditionally support both the child and it’s mother. There seems to be quite a lot of moral hazard in this “father selection” process.

    Finally, and most damningly, I’d say any woman who bares a child of ambiguous paternity and contemplates fraud in this fashion should be the *last* person consulted in decisions about how and whom should raise it.

  5. Incidentally, I personally would have no trouble raising children that were not mine biologically. I would have a problem forming a family with a woman who lies about her sexual proclivities.

    By making this about the children, rather than the woman, Melanie Mcdonaugh distorts the real issue.

  6. …..Many men have, of course, ended up raising children who were not genetically their own, but really, does it matter?…..

    Seeing as the sole reason for the existence of sex is to propagate ones own genes, this does seem rather a strange question.

    As sconzey says, many men have no problem with being step fathers, but not by the result of fraud.

  7. “Uncertainty allows mothers to select for their children the father who would be best for them…….”

    Most women seem capable of doing that before opening their legs.

    “The point is that paternity was ambiguous and it was effectively up to the mother to name her child’s father, or not……”

    I would guess that paternity was not at all ambiguous for the majority of children before DNA testing and still isn’t today.

  8. Tim, it’s even illegal in Germany to take a swab… so, more in-your-face methods are going to be needed.

    All I can say gentlemen is:

    Please, for the sake of the child (who too has a right to know it’s genetic father!) insist on a DNA test before accepting *any* paternity.

    When you have the certificate, frame it, take it down the pub, show it off with pride and openly(and loudly) celebrate that you *know* that this is *your* child.

    Make it a social occasion on par with stag night, and shame on any man who doesn’t safeguard the right of the child he is involved in as a potential father — it’s not only you and your potential future family you’re protecting here!

    That’s the only legal way to do it, and if you can manage to stand tall and proud like men, instead of cringe embarrassed in the corner because you dare to look after yourself and the potentially half-orphaned child.

    If you can’t do that, well, then you deserve this rip-off totally because you’re aiding and abetting it.(if only as a punishment for letting ‘your’ kid down!)

  9. The Laughing Cavalier

    “It seems that after meeting the child for the first time, he asked for a DNA test”.

    Are we to understand from this that the poor little bastard looks like its father? is it blind?

  10. Question about these super-injunctions or whatever keeping all these celebrity shenanigans secret:

    Surely the injunction would not bind the child, who presuambly (later in life) would be free to discuss his/her parentage publicly. It is hard to see them getting jailed for contempt for doing so when it is part of his/her own ‘family life’ etc.

    And once he/she does so, the matter becomes public domain and the injunction worthless.

    If so, I can’t see the point of the injunction on these things – these things become public eventually anyway.

    Am I missing something?

  11. About a decade ago there was some sort of injunction that was easily broken because the writ of the English courts didn’t extend to Sotland. Have the bastards somehow “fixed” that?

  12. Of course it doesn’t matter whether the man forced to support a baby is really the father or not. Goodness me, men do make such a fuss don’t they?

    Equally, and by the same logic, there’s no reason at all for a woman to get excited if the hospital manages to mix babies up and give her the wrong one, is there?

  13. “Many men have, of course, ended up raising children who were not genetically their own”

    Most of us do, at least financially – it’s called tax-funded benefits.

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