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.
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.
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.