A month ago I was in a coffee shop in my college town when a younger girl and her father walked in. The girl was holding a infant carrier and I knew exactly what she was going through because I too had experienced the joys of robo-baby parenthood. My senior year health class forced its students to carry around a robotic infant that recorded our every interaction and ultimately, graded us as parents. At the time, this seemed normal and I bet it does for most young women attending an all-girls, religious school. You see the young women in the grades above you lugging them around and you laugh at their struggle and then bam, you’re one of them before you know it.
Laughing, I asked my boyfriend, “did you have to have one of those in high school?” expecting a yes. But, he gave me a weird look and laughingly said “no.”
So, my question is, why did the young girl in the coffee shop and I have to carry around a robot baby for a few days, but the young men at his all-boys school did not? While, I don’t like to point fingers, I think this answer is rooted in the gender norms of our country. Ultimately, perpetuating the belief that a baby is a woman’s problem and a woman’s problem only when said pregnancy was not planned. However, anyone with a sane understanding of the role of men and women in society can see how wrong this notion is. If it is your sperm, it should also be seen as your responsibility whether planned or not, whether the pregnancy results in adoption, termination, or keeping the child. To be clear, I’m not blaming “the man” for this ongoing issue because I firmly believe that everyone, at some point in their life subconsciously reinforces gender norms and stereotypes. So, how do we fix it, how do we solve it?
In my opinion, there is no easy fix. Like I previously stated, gender norms are embedded into our society and it is hard to combat them when they are taught and learned. Starting small is always a great way to face an issue whether that’s talking to your partner(s) about how you feel concerning this issue when the time is right or by simply reading and sharing this article. Maybe I have an unpopular opinion, who knows?
I simply believe that it is time to start raising our daughters to believe that men have just as much of a responsibility in parenthood and procreation in general–no matter what. Because if it’s your sperm…it’s your problem too.