Did you know that the sperm carries the architectural drawings for a baby’s first home?
One of America’s most prominent forensic specialists, Frederick T. Zugibe (1928-2013) – who has so many letters after his name that I’d do my word limit with them alone – wrote about it in his paper The Code for Human Life.
“Recent studies show that the membranes that enclose the conceptus is derived from information encoded in the spermatozoa which provides for separation of the conceptus from the mother otherwise the mother’s immune system would destroy the conceptus.”
If you can get past the medical jargon, you will see that this is a rather lyrical illustration of the male role in family: that of security and provision.
It made me think of the Emily’s Voice ad running at the moment. Teen boy meets teen girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Girl falls pregnant. What next?
“I had to man-up and take responsibility,” the young dad says.
The line sounds rather foreign in a culture that elevates a woman’s right to choose in such a situation – often at the expense of the male’s (the dad’s) wishes entirely. How many men out there weren’t even told of the house their sperm built for a baby they never knew, or whose desires were overridden by the mother? Equally tragic is the ambivalent or coercive male who tells his partner to get rid of the kid.
We are sending conflicting messages to men: On one hand, we are telling them to shut up and comply with whatever the mother decides, but then insisting they contribute financially to the upkeep of the child if she decides to continue her pregnancy.
Without relational unity of man and woman, the bodily unity of man and woman will often result in “(destruction of) the conceptus” – or so Australian figures of 90,000-plus abortions a year tell us.
Amidst the pro-choice clamour and feminist heckling, men in the family context start to resemble Richard, the downtrodden husband in that old BBC sitcom Keeping up Appearances (I’m showing my vintage here…).
Perhaps that old tag of feminism is to blame. She is an ambiguous cause, with at least two divergent branches: she who is reasonable, measured and with equality in mind, and she who is domineering and self-serving.
The latter is destructive – it emasculates men and elevates women’s rights with bull-headed brutality. It creates wimpy men who demur judgement and decision-making. You know what I’m talking about – those men who say, “It’s your body…” “It’s your choice…” “I’ll support whatever decision you make…”
Men need to man-up.
It’s old school and eminently out-of-fashion, but I’m a believer in defined gender roles. Not that women should cook and men should work. More nuanced than that. Rather, that women have a natural ability towards caring, communicating, and uniting, for example, and men towards leading, providing and protecting.
It’s about using our complementary skills for the good of both – why wrestle with what is innate?
These are good differences.
If you are a man in relationship with a woman, I have a challenge for you. Be brave and courageous as a Viking, lead your family like King Solomon and take responsibility like William Wilberforce.
We need more of you.
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday June 2, 2014.