Where do babies come from? It’s a question that most four-year-olds ponder; it’s a puzzle that preoccupies pre-teens. And yet – even though most adults will have long ago learnt that babies arrive when a mummy *and* a daddy love each other very much and do a special hug – there remains some confusion.
For example, this week we learnt that 52 per cent of men believe that they have not personally benefitted from women having access to contraception. The figure comes from an American study, conducted by nonpartisan organisation PerryUndem, and there are variations according to age: 70 per cent of men who answered that they did not benefit from free contraception were 60 years old and older, while the men most likely to answer saying they do (45 per cent) were ages 18 to 44. But, whichever way you slice it, here is a stark and dispiriting statistic: 52 per cent of men say they have not personally benefitted from a woman in their life having access to affordable birth control.
It is a bizarrely arrogant stance, so disconnected with the reality of sex, family, relationships and parenthood. It is also wilfully, shockingly ignorant. How do these men think their partners have avoided pregnancy? Presumably, the entire 52 per cent of men are not chaste, avid condom-wearers or fathers to scores of children?
The study is released as Republicans prepare to repeal and replace Obamacare, looking into ways that they can remove services such as maternity care and mammograms from the new healthcare bill they aim to introduce. Yesterday, on Twitter, a picture of an all-male, all-white group (Kellyanne Conway was apparently there, but out of shot) went viral, with many pointing out the terrifying irony that these were the people deciding on whether to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides preventive care services and screenings to one in five American women.
It’s horrifying to know that, statistically speaking, at least half of these men are so solipsistic that they cannot conceive of how access to contraception can impact on them – but it doesn’t feel shocking. After all, most women will tell you that the burden of contraception – and, indeed, childrearing – falls to them.
Of course, these men know where babies come from – they just couldn’t be bothered to take responsibility. Women are left holding the baby every single day; how bleak to see Donald Trump and the Republican party attempt to further institutionalise that.