The Sexist

Resolved: Abandoning Your Rape-Victim Wife Is A Dick Move

On Friday, advice columnist Carolyn Hax took on a strangely well-worn query for today's relationship advice columnists. Here's the situation (thanks to Heartless Doll for the tip): A woman is raped. She becomes pregnant. She decides to carry the pregnancy to term. Her husband decides he wants a divorce.

Question for the columnist: Is this guy a dick, or what?

If that very unfortunate scenario sounds familiar, it's because last November, Daily Telegraph advice-giver Lesley Garner answered a question from a woman in an eerily similar situation. Garner failed.

Garner's advice-seeker had been raped, become pregnant, and had the baby. Her husband split, leaving her to raise the child as a single mother. Her question: Should she attempt to rekindle a relationship with the man who had dumped her as a result of her sexual assault?

You may recall how Garner responded: She informed the woman that her rape "wasn’t exactly a rape but a situation between you and your boss that got out of hand." Garner also insisted that a husband jetting after his wife is impregnated through rape is "a no-brainer . . . No man could contemplate this. He would have found your decision inexplicable."

In my critique of Garner's advice (in short, do not advise rape victims that they are not rape victims, and also, please refrain from informing women that their reproductive choices are thoroughly "inexplicable" to other humans), I noted that I was not an advice columnist, but that I suspected the husband in question to be a "dickwad." Now that we've got a legit advice-giver in the form of Carolyn Hax to weigh in on the subject, we may finally learn the answer: Are you a dick for abandoning your wife after she is impregnated from her rape?

But first, the big wind-up:

Oakland, Calif.: Hello Carolyn. A friend's wife became pregnant as a result of a sexual assault. She has decided to not have an abortion, and doesn't know yet whether she wants to give the child up for an adoption. Would the husband be a [glass bowl] for refusing to raise this child, and divorcing if necessary? Thanks.

Essentially, the reader is asking Hax this: "Oh, hello Carolyn, my friend's wife was raped. LONG STORY SHORT, now my friend has been seriously inconvenienced by this, so can you please let him know he's not a dick for peacing? Thanks."

Hax delivers a reasoned response that manages to give credit to the difficulty of the husband's situation while still conveying the fact that, yes, he is a gigantic jackass:

Wow. I think the only happy outcome is one the husband and wife conjure together. Technically, this isn't something the wife can force on the husband and expect him to agree to joyfully.

That said, technically, this pregnancy wasn't something to be forced on the wife, and yet it was. So, in a rare case where bean-counting is the way to go, the husband needs to let go of any notion of an ideal outcome here, in direct proportion to the wife's distance from her notion of an ideal outcome. This is the only fair and decent course.

Finally, there's the child to be considered, who is obviously innocent, and deserves to enter the world with just as clean a slate as any other child's.

I'm not saying this wouldn't be a Herculean challenge for the husband, because it would–but embracing the innocent child strikes me as immeasurably better for the soul than leaving one's rape-victim wife to be a single mom.

I trust Hax on this one. Here's why: Observe how Hax refrains from suggesting that (a) perhaps this rape victim was not in fact raped, nor that (b) rape victims who carry their pregnancies to term deserve to be alone for the choices they have made. Incredible. It is thus resolved: abandoning your rape-victim wife is a dick move.

UPDATE: It's worse than I thought. The rape victim's husband's friend weighs in to further contextualize the situation:

Oakland again: Thanks Carolyn. Obviously this whole situation is devastating for them. I don't know if this make a difference, but the couple is white, and the assailant was Afircan-American, and the husband isn't exactly progressive when it comes to race relations.

  • LeftSidePositive

    Melissa,

    Sorry...but that is NOT what he said on the condom thread. Not at all. He's trying to equate "you can't tell what's best for someone" regarding their emotional health and subjective response to their situation (the choice of the pregnant woman) to saying that you can't tell what is medically the safest thing for someone to do with regard to sexually transmitted diseases (for which clear probabilities and objective outcomes may be considered).

    I hate to shatter your trust that jf(c)1 might ever be reasonable.

  • LeftSidePositive

    @Nemonixon:

    That's a very fair and honest statement and I thank you for it.

  • LeftSidePositive

    No Mames Buey,

    Why do you keep coming up with these scenarios and think you've played a "gotcha"?? You've never even shown how or why we would disagree with these statements.

    The answer is: yes. They should all be eliminated.

    A woman currently has to pay more for health insurance because of reproductive care. She was born with that need, and men benefit from having healthy babies born to them too (or BEING born as healthy babies!!). It's not like we can continue the human race WITHOUT women giving birth and thus needing that care, so of course it should be included in the base rate.

    A man gets charged more for car insurance because statistically men get into more accidents. Well, that's not fair--you shouldn't have to pay for the driving habits of others just because you have the same genitalia as they do.

    A man has to pay more for life insurance because statistically he's more likely to die sooner so he has to pay more upfront for the insurance company to turn a profit. Well, that's not fair--it's not like he's choosing to die sooner! In fact I'm sure he'd rather not!

    Now, making things more expensive because of habits or history--if you smoke, if you fail to adhere to your medications, if you have DUIs, etc. is fair because those are modifiable behaviors, not something you were born with.

    So, really, can you stop with this "ooh I can show you're prejudiced" nonsense unless we actually say something that you object to?

  • LeftSidePositive

    Refuting the stupidity of jfc1:

    "Who in their right mind would expect her to handle it well and make great decisions at this point?"

    That's an incredibly patronizing thing to say. Who are you to think you can know someone's emotional state better than they do??

    Certainly not the same people who say that trauma victims would be better off to follow the advice of trained health-care professionals LOL

    Show me, please, where I have ever said this. In fact, I said quite clearly that I would make the opposite decision that she did, yet I still respect her choice.

    That is NOT the same thing as saying someone should listen to their physician when there is a medical reason why what they're doing is dangerous. It is my obligation to provide the medical advice that would be in the best interests of my patient, and to offer evidence-based information on what the best course of treatment would be. However, if a patient has different goals or values I need to make a treatment plan that would accommodate that and respect the patient's autonomy. I am duty-bound to make sure that my patient has accurate information to make an informed decision, so I am ethically obligated to correct any factual errors in my patient's reasoning.

  • Banyan

    @LSP

    Well, if the difficulty of adopting a child for Ma and the difficulty of raising a child for Pa are too close to call, the only fair thing to do is to flip a coin.

    Re-post sorry but agree?

  • LeftSidePositive

    @Banyan:

    That's for the couple to decide for themselves...healthy people should have an open and honest discussion about what their needs and values are, and how they can come to a decision that works for both of them. Sadly, I don't see that happening with this couple.

    I think what we have instead is that the difficulty of adopting a child for Ma may be intolerable for her. The difficulty of raising a child for Pa might be intolerable for him. This would basically tear the marriage apart, and that's what it seems to be doing.

    I think what we're getting at is that the reason the guy is being a dick is that he doesn't seem to understand how hard it would be for this woman to give up her child. Like K said, even though she wished this horrific event never happened, she still apparently sees this baby as her child. That bond is very primal, and when it's there, it's VERY strong.

    I don't think the husband quite appreciates that he's complaining about being reminded his wife was raped, when she (no matter what) will have to live with the memory of that rape for the rest of her life. It seems that he is placing his aversion to the rape (& the resulting child) over his love for his wife (who, now more than ever, needs his love and support), and that makes him a dick.

    Like we said, it's certainly understandable that he has a BIG problem with this. We sympathize. Her decision will make things a lot harder for him. But, in the end she was the rape victim and she would feel robbed of her child...The right (though difficult) thing for him to do is support what she's been through, and at least he didn't have to endure what she did.

  • LeftSidePositive

    Is it too much to hope that jf1 is posting under jfc1 now because the first one FINALLY got banned?

    How long would we have to wait before jfc1 gets the boot, too?

    A bit of cutting-and pasting has revealed that as of this moment jf(c)1 has spewed NINE THOUSAND and twenty-three words on this thread alone. A whopping total of forty-eight thousand and nineteen characters. That's 19 FULL PAGES, single-spaced at 11pt font.

    This is so much delusional nonsense that is virtually impossible to scroll past in order to keep an intelligent conversation going. Posters trying to have a sincere conversation have to re-post and remind people about their questions because they get lost in all the ranting!!

  • Banyan

    @LSP
    "I think what we’re getting at is that the reason the guy is being a dick is that he doesn’t seem to understand how hard it would be for this woman to give up her child."

    The big problem is that we get the feeling that he doesn't even try to work through the problem. If he tried and then determined the suffering to be too great I would cut him some more slack.

  • Hov

    Having only read the first third of the responses:

    Yea, it would be better if the guys stayed. But leaving makes him... scum? If anything, the intensity of the debate here (and the fact the question arises again and again) should be indication enough that this is an extraordinarily difficult situation for the man involved. Were it easier, well maybe then the guy is scum. But it isn't easier, and there should be some measure of compassion for a man who decides he isn't up to the task. Hauling out the vitriol just isn't necessary here.

  • LeftSidePositive

    @Banyan: I would too.

  • LeftSidePositive

    @Hov:

    The vitriol here is not because people aren't acknowledging the difficulty of his situation; the vitriol is because a certain poster is saying things like, [paraphrasing] "If she wants his baby she clearly wanted sex with him," and "If she carries the baby she is being unfaithful to her husband," and "A woman in marriage has given up her right to decide what to do with a pregnancy," etc., etc., etc.

  • jfc1

    "I think what we’re getting at is that the reason the guy is being a dick is that he doesn’t seem to understand how hard it would be for this woman to give up her child."

    prospective reason #321 that he's a dick fails because he didn't marry the woman thinking that she would have the child if she ever got impregnated during a rape. He probably thought that she would never have the child, in that case. Like most sane men...

    Who knows, guys, maybe this is something that you need to talk about before you marry them, hm? :)

    "dear..."

    "yes, sweetie? love of my life? My big hunk of man-meat?"

    "I was just wondering...what if we got married, and you got raped by a black guy and got pregnant? Would you carry the child to term or have an abortion?"

    " BAM! (sound of door closing)"

    maybe Paris Hilton can ask this question at the next Miss America contest :)

  • jfc1

    ...I dunno, maybe you can start a poll, try to prove me wrong, statistically :)

    assuming of course that none of you women would lie about your answer..

  • jfc1

    ...assuming that you were actually married, and let's just say, you had agreed that you would forsake all other men for your husband...you know, you supposedly wouldn't want to have children by any other man than him...

    but you get raped and impregnated by a black guy. What do you do. Abort or carry to term and give up for adoption or try to raise the child or...?

  • jfc1

    "A bit of cutting-and pasting has revealed that as of this moment jf(c)1 has spewed NINE THOUSAND and twenty-three words on this thread alone."

    Me thinks that someone here is mildly obsessed with me ;)

    what a choice of words, too...nothing sexual in nature there, no way...

  • LeftSidePositive

    damn...I knew that interlude of thoughtful discussion was just too good to be true!

  • No Mames Buey

    #203, LSP, I agree with your position on eliminating gender rating for all these insurances: health, car & life. Good on you LSP, for being objective altruistic True Feminist on this issue, interested in equal rights for both genders.

    Some "feminists" do not, that are lobbying to eliminate gender rating for health care insurance, but conveniently ignore it for car & life insurance where the status quo of gender rating causes anti-man discrimination. They have the "me first, screw everyone else" special interest mentality that is hurting our country, not much better than the heinous industry cartel Welfare Queens that compete by paying off Government pols & regulators to maintain their cartel status, Wall Street, Health Care Insurance, Pharma, Military Industrial Complex, etc. Apparently this is easier for them then being a true business in a competitive market, which thrives by actually gaining/maintaing customers by providing a good product/service at a good price.

  • jfc1

    damn…I knew that interlude of thoughtful discussion was just too good to be true!"

    simple question...full of opportunity to think...

    and probably a good idea for you and the guy who you sleep with now, to think about it...

    maybe you should ask him how he would feel, what he would do, and that way you can decide whether he would be good "husband/father material" for you...

    really simple, if you two got married and you got raped by a black guy and got pregnant, would you carry the child to term and would he stand by you or leave you?

    Call us back when you have two definite answers. You won't even have to explain your choices.

  • jfc1

    It's no fair calling the guy a dick for doing the same thing that your own boyfriend would do, you know?

    and there you are happily sucking his cock every night.

    Unless of course you really mean that as a term of affection LOL

  • Former Staffer

    can we ban jf1 and jfc1 from ever commenting again?

  • jfc1

    ...you can ban me, in fact if you ask, I will never post here again.

    You'll still have to deal with this question, and many others like it.

    So you want to answer or just power up your Global Delusion Field to try to banish all thoughts that might in any way cause a blemish to appear on your outlook on life?

    Get your delusions here, folks, only $5 each...3 for $10! Special deal on slightly-used ones returned by women who have married the perfect man!

  • closetpuritan

    jfc1:
    tl;dr.

  • Dorothy

    "in fact if you ask, I will never post here again."

    Would you please never post here again?

  • jfc1

    ...one other thing. I'm not so sure that the child of a rape is so "innocent".

    I mean, think about it. We grant innocence to the unborn, to children, sure.

    But do we do that to the child of a rape?

    No, we do that to normal babies, the product of a consensual (or at least, accidental) union.

    Not to one forced on the mother. The child is not truly "innocent" because it is the product of a violent act perpetrated on the mother. You can't just force a woman to have your child and then claim that the child is "safe", "beyond reproach", because it personally had nothing to do with it. No one would allow the rapist to make that decision, so why is the woman empowered to make it for him?

    I think that she can argue that she should be allowed to make her own decision with regard to her body, and this child, but even then no person has 100% "self-determination" about what they can and cannot do with their body. We all know that. We're all subject to the law. We are all subject to 3rd-party decisions about our bodies. Just as this woman was subjected to rape, her child is subject to US law and US law is decided by the courts, not by the mother. That whole argument is nothing but "feel-good" delusion.

    In this case there is the argument that having the child would simply be too traumatic for her, certainly for her to plan to give it up for adoption, and one could make a quite-reasonable argument that the courts should step in and order an abortion both for the sake of her marriage and for her own personal mental and physical health. I just don't see this baby as having a whole lot of moral ground to stand on, but to claim that it's above reproach because it didn't rape the woman is just silly. That child didn't just pop out of nowhere, and if the sperm had obeyed the law it would not even have entered this womans' body much less fertilized one of her eggs. There's no "sanctification" moment where the child is "free" of all the sins of the father. The child is a PRODUCT of the sins of the father. It would not exist at all without the sins of the father, *supposedly*.

    I don't see its termination as something that is ethically wrong...no more than any other unborn fetus. And people abort fetuses for much weaker reasons than are relevant to this one. And if you're going to start to claim that human life is sacred then that undermines all the executions and wars that we get into on a regular basis. That argument will never hold water.

    Aside from that she is either forcing the husband to go along with it or to give up on having a child with her, for the sake of this child, and possibly even give up his marriage. Why not ask the fucking rapist to move in the house? They can set up a bed for him in the basement. You say that's crazy but what do you think is going to happen if she has his child? You think that he won't argue for the right to see his own child, at least once in a while? You think the child won't want to know who their real father is, and to see them, maybe even get involved in their life?

    This is 99.999% bad with the only redeeming factor the fact that the unborn child did not actually rape that woman. But it sure as hell is benefiting from it!

  • jfc1

    "Would you please never post here again?"

    Done.

    Knock yourselves out. Good luck.

  • Mike

    I strongly resent the implication that the man who leaves his wife because she got raped and decides to keep the baby is a dick. As a man, I could take the point of view that the woman is a cunt, or twat for wanting to keep the baby. Both points of view are subjective, and very muopic. My view is that it's her body, and she has the right to do with it as she sees fit. But she's also married, and when your married, you have to take into account the wishes and opinions of your spouse.

  • LeftSidePositive

    No Mames Buey,

    Are you trying to claim that major feminist organizations are actively lobbying to preserve gender-rating in car and life insurance?

    Because if all you can say is they're "ignoring" it...well, did it ever occur to you that these organizations might have their hands full with reproductive choice being stripped from the health care bill, ongoing discrimination in the workplace, domestic violence, rape, groping, the inability of women in many parts of the country to get full access to contraception, rape & domestic violence victims being turned down for health insurance, abstinence-only education leading to increasing rates of teen pregnancies, women seeking to end a pregnancy being threatened by anti-choice zealots, said anti-choice zealots murdering those who provide women's health care, not to mention the disgraceful treatment of women in third-world countries?? That, maybe in light of these challenges, we couldn't quite squeeze in the time to worry about your CAR INSURANCE? Are you fucking kidding me?!?!?!

  • Enterra

    As a lurker, I would like to come out and say this once and then leave. Jfc1 or whatever you call yourself, please shut up. Or at the very least limit you posts. I am tired of trying to read the other comments around yours. Your ridiculously long rants annoy me to no end. At this point, no one is interested in what you have to say beyond neutralizing your damaging statements. Your victim blaming is nauseating. You need help. That is all.

    Also, if I offended any regular posters here, or Amanda Hess, I am sorry. If it helps, it is about 6 am where I am and I haven't slept.

  • Sam

    I was suckered into reading through most of these posts out of a mix or interest and seer disbelief and must agree with Enterra.

    That being said, wow. What a lovely way to loose faith in humanity. Many of you sound like very decent people, but others I simply can not believe are real. I know they are though, unfortunately.

    My say in this matter is that any truly loving person would do what was necessary to care for the well being of a spouse/partner that was victimized. Not to do so is to be a dick. Yes it is hard to care for another person. Yes it would put strain on the spouse. If she had been beaten instead of raped and was now handicapped and he left her for that, he'd be just as much of a dick. Ignoring the baby (just for the sake of argument, no matter what happens I feel bad for any child not born into a loving home) this argument, to me, is far more about the rights of a victim then the responsibilities of a rape victim. No matter what the case victim blaming is wrong.

    As far as so many of the comments that brought up the issue of it not being the husband's kid, you are forgetting that rape or not the kid is her's. It is growing inside her, half her DNA. Personally I don't understand her choice to keep the child, but I can understand that having made that choice she would have a attachment to any child that was half her's. As any child she ever had would be.

    There is still such a long road to travel before equality is reached. Thoughts and language still reflect the past and differences in treatment between the sexes. I know a much earlier post brought up something like this, but I don't feel like scrolling up to find it.

    Anyway, that's all for me. The trolls can feel free to yell, I will not be responding. To all you other thoughtful commenters, your opinions (whether I agree or not) were a joy to read.

  • http://www.myspace.com/7558749 Michael Ejercito

    There is one factor to consider.

    Most rape victims know their attackers. It was not revealed whether or not the victim knew her attacker before the rape.

    She should not be having another man's baby; that is a violation of the sacred marital vow.

...