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Be my, be my baby. Or, you know *his*.
April 27, 2007 12:06 AM   Subscribe

Paternity Discrepancy. "My little boy was there, he was up at bat, and I started yelling for him, 'Go Matthew [not his real name]! Knock it out of the park!' And another man started screaming for Matthew. Louder than me. I looked over, and I looked at him, and I was like, Who is this guy? And I looked at my son, and I looked at him … and they were identical."
posted by Sticherbeast (195 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
After recently reviewing 67 studies on the subject, University of Oklahoma researchers found that PD rates tend to be much higher among men who have reason to believe there's been more than one dog in the yard.

Heh. More than one dog in the yard.

My daugher looks just like me, but not too much like my wife.... I hope she doesn't suspect something.
posted by three blind mice at 12:32 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Still reading, but...

I said, 'Son, you can't have but one dad. I'm the only dad you've got.'

... the hell? Who talks to their five-year-old like that?
posted by the other side at 12:37 AM on April 27, 2007


I tripped on the same euphemism three blind.

I knew a guy who was paying paternity on 3 kids who weren't his until his new wife demanded he get a paternity test.

I feel weird about the legal policy forcing men to pay child support for children who aren't theirs. I can't say it is right, but I'm not sure it's wrong either.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:38 AM on April 27, 2007


Best interests of the child, no matter the injustice.

Paternity should be no secret. It should get handed out with the knit toque at the hospital.
posted by dreamsign at 12:47 AM on April 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why is spousal infidelity assumed in every case? What ever happened to babies getting switched in the baskets at the hospital?
posted by spiderwire at 12:54 AM on April 27, 2007


I feel weird about the legal policy forcing men to pay child support for children who aren't theirs. I can't say it is right, but I'm not sure it's wrong either.

Well I think these cases are decided on what is best for the childrens. It's certainly not the kids' fault. If some cuckold (which is a great word that one just doesn't get enough chance to use) accepts being a father to a kid that is not his, he should be viewed by the law in the same way as any other adoptive parent.
posted by three blind mice at 12:55 AM on April 27, 2007


Why is spousal infidelity assumed in every case? What ever happened to babies getting switched in the baskets at the hospital?

Because the latter might be considered exceedingly rare in comparison to the former.

My daughter was born in London and the NHS policy is that the parents NEVER leave the child's side from the moment of birth until you leave the hospital. (My wife, on the other hand, has a somewhat longer leash.)
posted by three blind mice at 1:03 AM on April 27, 2007



a lie that reaches right down to your chromosomes

I thought he was gonna go for 'socks' here.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:05 AM on April 27, 2007


If some cuckold (which is a great word that one just doesn't get enough chance to use) accepts being a father to a kid that is not his, he should be viewed by the law in the same way as any other adoptive parent.

Am I right in reading that as being a situation where the cuckold in question is fully informed of the situation? Cause he can't make a choice if he doesn't know.

spiderware, does that really happen much? I mean, why is drug use assumed when you find smack in my pocket? Could it not be a swapped jeans mistake? (snarky, but serious)
posted by dreamsign at 1:05 AM on April 27, 2007


I bumped into a woman that I knew and hadn't seen for a while a few weeks ago. She'd recently given birth to a beautiful brown baby. The only problem was, both her and her husband were white.

According to mom, her husband was devoted to the child and treated it exactly as if it was his own. They'd lost an earlier child to cot death four or five years before, so baby was very precious to them both. But while the husband might not be taking his rage out on the baby, I strongly suspect that he's not quite so generous and forgiving with regard to the mother.

Mother says that she only actually had sex with the genetic father once, but I'm sure there's a pile of research that says that when women are at their most fertile is precisely when they are both most desirable to other men, and also, most likely to cheat.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:06 AM on April 27, 2007


The law should provide for a time period before a father acknowledges a child during which he can confidentially have the paternity of the child tested.
To prevent involuntary adoption.
posted by jouke at 1:07 AM on April 27, 2007


dreamsign,The child, or the mother? The article brought up the mandatory testing idea, and made a good point about the problems raised by it (who pays, privacy issues).

Also, I'm with BrotherCaine on this. It's easy to say "best interest of the child", but is it right that doctors withhold this kind of information from men on that rationale? Do fathers not even have the right to know the truth? A father isn't just a sperm donor who takes up some space in the house. It really is a sticky issue. The kids need support, but it seems wrong to say, "We know these kids aren't yours, but we don't know who the real father is, so you're stuck with the bill. Too bad."
posted by Sangermaine at 1:13 AM on April 27, 2007


Cause he can't make a choice if he doesn't know.

Doesn't matter dreamsign. Once a cuckold (twice in one day woohoo!) accepts (wittingly or unwittingly) the role of parent, the die is cast. It may not seem fair, but what is in the child's best interest is often not.
posted by three blind mice at 1:13 AM on April 27, 2007


I recall hearing a number of complaints about "paternity fraud" being "legalized" in a number of states, putting child support obligations on non-genetic fathers. The theory being, I guess, that an unwilling father figure, or at least someone to pay some bills, is better than no one. Anyone know anything about this?

Also, are paternity costs so prohibitory that they couldn't be provided for everyone? Because if not, it starts to look like a public policy decision where deception and unjust responsibilites are preferable to single-parent or single-earner situations for the children. Which is, and should be, debatable, at the very least.
posted by dreamsign at 1:13 AM on April 27, 2007


It's easy to say "best interest of the child", but is it right that doctors withhold this kind of information from men on that rationale?

I'm a big critic of the "best intersts of the child" perspective. Take interests into account, ok. A legal obligation to make them a priority, fine. But any result, no matter how unjust? No. Not in my book.

Well, that's what I think needs to change, three blind mice. Any law or set of regulations that encourages fraud needs to be changed.

And now I feel like I'm monopolizing the thread. Sorry. I want to hear more from everybody else.
posted by dreamsign at 1:16 AM on April 27, 2007


jouke,
That still leaves the issue of who pays for it. Would insurance cover it? If not, it wouldn't really help. I imagine that if this "acknowledgment period law" were put into practice, then at th end of the period paternity would default to the guy thought to be the father. I can imagine a situation in which the father, not having the money to pay for the test and trusting his wife, lets the period come and go, and later finds out, which would lead to a sticky mess.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:18 AM on April 27, 2007


If I was a women and my husband insisted on a parternity test I'd divorce him on the spot, regardless of if I slept around, no way a marriage can survive that kind of distrust.
posted by afu at 1:20 AM on April 27, 2007 [2 favorites]




I'd love to see the original manuscript copy of that piece. My guess is that it was scrawled in red ballpoint on the sides of 16 cigarette packets, originally referred to 'bitchez' instead of 'women', and was illustrated by the journalist's own stick-figure renditions of prostitutes being killed by hammers.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:23 AM on April 27, 2007 [11 favorites]


afu writes "If I was a women and my husband insisted on a parternity test I'd divorce him on the spot, regardless of if I slept around, no way a marriage can survive that kind of distrust."

Well, certainly not if you divorced him on the spot.
posted by Bugbread at 1:25 AM on April 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


Why is spousal infidelity assumed in every case? What ever happened to babies getting switched in the baskets at the hospital?

This happens surprisingly often in Malaysia. And it's always between two kids of different races. A Chinese kid gets sent to an Indian family and gets teased for being "slanty eyed"; an Indian kid gets sent to a Chinese family and gets teased for being dark. It's only when the kids become teenagers that the truth is found out.
posted by divabat at 1:28 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I look like a blend of both my parents: in photos with my mom and her family I fit in pretty well, except up close one sees a marked and visible deformity passed down in my father's line for generations. I'm sure those two are my real parents. (Dad's from the Delta quadrant.)

As for "Paternity Discrepancy," on the one hand I believe "genetic lineage" is overrated (a point I illustrate rather well), but on the other hand I'd hate to be lied to and abused like that. While I'm with joukes I'll also say that it's time we admit that the "biological" nuclear family a la Ozzie & Harriet is not and never was the sole legitimate form of the family in "Western" society. Let's go from there and think of something else that would moot this whole "controversy."

And Sangermaine, paternity testing on request should be a normal part of every birth experience, paid for by the taxpayers if need be. Considering all the other blood tests our Society deems prudent in case of pregnancy and childbirth, surely one more won't break the bank.

And afu, us men should be glad you're not a woman then. No way anybody should be cheated on and abused like that.
posted by davy at 1:31 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sangermaine, I'm not sure how expensive these tests are. But the alleged father will have to pay a lot more for the rearing of a child that is not his.
In that perspective he might want to invest a bit more.
And I think these tests have quite a bit of market potential. So maybe the laws of large quantities will bring down the cost.
posted by jouke at 1:32 AM on April 27, 2007


A father isn't just a sperm donor who takes up some space in the house. It really is a sticky issue.

*washes hands before typing*

But any result, no matter how unjust?

Not any result, no matter how unjust. Simply the same application of law - and same result- as it would apply to other any adoptive parent/legal guardian. The key here is acceptance. If a man chooses not to inquire about paternity before accepting, this is his failing, not the kid's.
posted by three blind mice at 1:35 AM on April 27, 2007


davy,
The "nuclear family" isn't the problem, and recognizing other forms of family as "legitimate" won't moot anything. At it's base, this is about fraud. In any family structure, if one partner is being willfully misled by the other, there is a problem, especially if legal/financial matters like alimony are at stake.

jouke,
I actually think your idea is a good one, I was just thinking about the implementation costs.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:37 AM on April 27, 2007


Damn, should have previewed.

three blind mice,
"Acceptance"? Until we have some kind of mandatory testing policy, should men just assume that their kids might not be theirs at birth? These cases are fundamentally different than adoption cases, because of the fraud involved. When you adopt a child, at least you know what you're doing.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:40 AM on April 27, 2007


I found out my "dad" was not really my biological father at age 12 or so, it was pretty devastating. Maybe what's best for the child would the truth? I mean that man paid child support for me all those years BUT he knew he wasn't my real father and so treated me differently and far worse than my sisters, whom presumable are his biological children (mom??). So yeah, it's a thorny issue but in my admittedly limited experience, fathers often know and act accordingly.
posted by yodelingisfun at 1:41 AM on April 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


..should men just assume that their kids might not be theirs at birth?

I wouldn't, but YMMV.

These cases are fundamentally different than adoption cases, because of the fraud involved. When you adopt a child, at least you know what you're doing.

Not really Sangermaine. I don't know how it works everywhere, but in the UK, there were a number of legal documents I signed identifying myself as the father.

Whilst being a father means more than signing a piece of paper, signing the piece of paper is acceptance of the legal responsibility. No one, as I remember, put a gun to my head.
posted by three blind mice at 1:52 AM on April 27, 2007


If a man chooses not to inquire about paternity before accepting, this is his failing, not the kid's.

Nobody, nobody is talking about anything being the kid's fault. Can we burn that straw man right now?

As for choosing not to inquire, public policy decisions are often made on the basis of social reality, not some ideal situation on paper. Mandatory testing takes it out of the hands of couples either in a honeymoon period with regard to parenthood or some coercive situation a la afu, above, and makes it a choice for everyone. Offer the info in a sealed envelope (well, better: two envelopes). But offer it.

The argument for common-law marriage mirrors this, sadly (I am not a proponent). So you live with someone for 20 years and choose not to marry. That was your choice. Why should you have the rights of a married person? (my position goes a little further: if there is one legal contract in society that people understand, it is a marriage contract) But proponents argue power imbalance, so the common law marriage instrument is used to redress the social, and inevitably legal, disadvantage.

The article says paternity tests cost about $400, but as jouke notes, widespread use should bring down the cost.
posted by dreamsign at 2:03 AM on April 27, 2007


That's a pretty crude dismissal, Sonny Jim. The article is actually chock full of information if you care to read it.
posted by the other side at 2:28 AM on April 27, 2007


Phoebe Cates 2.0: "Which one of you fathers is my bitch?!"
posted by rob511 at 2:31 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]



As a man who has kids, the notion of "deciding" whether I will or won't look into paternity testing prior to accepting them as my children...

it's a little silly dude.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:50 AM on April 27, 2007


Mandatory testing gives the government yet another excuse to violate my privacy and invade my personal life (for my own good of course.) No thank you.

the notion of "deciding" whether I will or won't look into paternity testing prior to accepting them as my children... it's a little silly dude.

As Geddy Lee posited: If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
posted by three blind mice at 3:07 AM on April 27, 2007


That's a pretty crude dismissal, Sonny Jim. The article is actually chock full of information if you care to read it.

I actually did read it, and that's what prompted me to post. I just found the tone a little ... off, what with its painting of women, doctors, and (female) social workers as 'villains' and men as innocent 'victims' who might be omg raising another man's child, as though that were just the worst thing that could possibly be. I do agree that the article is informative, just in ways that the author didn't necessarily envisage.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:11 AM on April 27, 2007


As a man who has kids, the notion of "deciding" whether I will or won't look into paternity testing prior to accepting them as my children...

it's a little silly dude.


What if, before you had another child, your wife sat you down and said "I want to have two more babies. For one, I'm going to cheat on you and then lie about it. The baby will not be yours. The other will be your baby. Will you help me raise these children?" Would you be willing to raise those kids if you knew upfront all the information that you'd get from a post-birth paternity test?
posted by 23skidoo at 3:45 AM on April 27, 2007


omg raising another man's child, as though that were just the worst thing that could possibly be

I must be from some alien kinda place that thinks legal obligations of 18+ years are something to take seriously. The worst thing in the world? No. But not a parking ticket, either. Is this how we discuss the subject -- by referencing the extremes?

Mandatory testing gives the government yet another excuse to violate my privacy and invade my personal life (for my own good of course.) No thank you.

Ah, the "I hate all government interference" brigade. Don't get me wrong -- in some circumstances (see former comments on common-law marriage) I agree. But it's because of elements of those specific situations, not some knee-jerk anti-government animus. What are they going to do with that information, tbm, aside from offer it to you along with a slew of other relevant medical information? Let me guess: you don't know but we should be very, very afraid.
posted by dreamsign at 3:51 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]





"... your wife sat you down and said ...Would you be willing to raise those kids if you knew upfront all the information that you'd get from a post-birth paternity test?"

That's just goofy. No wife would ever... Oh, wait, you were illustrating a point... I have no idea how I would react to the situation you suggest/ as illustrated in th article. I don't think I would respond well, honestly.

There's a good chance that like it or not this kind of testing will become defacto anyway. In the 'genetic counseling' we received prior to the birth of our kid they went into family history to try and determine the likelihood of our passing down disease. OK, that's not a bad idea - and one the article mentions. But it's a clunky and grotesquely inexact way to go about it. Six months after the 'counseling' session I found out a cousin _had_ a disease that can be genetically yada yada yada (two french Canadians marrying). How long until they forgo the interview and just look take a prick of blood?

And then how far away to determining paternity, if just as a side line of the original test - like determining sex from amniocentesis? In some ways the discussion is being outstripped by science and "Progress!"
posted by From Bklyn at 4:13 AM on April 27, 2007


I must be from some alien kinda place that thinks legal obligations of 18+ years are something to take seriously. The worst thing in the world? No. But not a parking ticket, either. Is this how we discuss the subject -- by referencing the extremes?

Right, but these are still human beings we're talking about here, and referring to them solely as a series of legal and financial obligations, or affronts to one's manhood, or the symptoms of the dreaded new PD syndrome, does seem rather, well, emotionally detached. At least to me.
posted by Sonny Jim at 4:15 AM on April 27, 2007


(My wife, on the other hand, has a somewhat longer eash.)

Why don't you just keep her in the yard with the dogs? Oh, wait.... maybe that's not such a good idea...

... the hell? Who talks to their five-year-old like that?

Well, the kid raised the subject.
posted by Doohickie at 4:15 AM on April 27, 2007


On the one hand, this discussion raises a number of interesting questions about the nature of familial obligations; on the other hand, the dudes in that article got fucking PWNT
posted by Spacelegoman at 4:17 AM on April 27, 2007


I agree Spacelegoman.... especially that guy with the "brown baby". it reminds me of that family pic that goes around the net every so often showing two pasty-white parents holding the baby of color.
posted by Doohickie at 4:27 AM on April 27, 2007


Should a doctor be cognisant of GSA and the possibility (however remote) of accidental incest, on making a determination to reveal a paternal discrepancy?

"When siblings have a child together, there is only a 50% chance that it will be healthy when it is born," said Jürgen Kunze, professor of human genetics at Berlin's Charite hospital.
posted by strawberryviagra at 4:30 AM on April 27, 2007


these are still human beings we're talking about here, and referring to them solely as a series of legal and financial obligations, or affronts to one's manhood, or the symptoms of the dreaded new PD syndrome, does seem rather, well, emotionally detached. At least to me.

A child is a legal and financial obligation. Is it just that? No. I don't see how we're getting past unhelpful abstraction here.

We -- well I -- am not talking about abandoning children after X many years as a parent, because at that point, you are the parent, as any parent of an adopted child will tell you. This is about checking at birth, when your primary link to the child thus far is genetic (or not).

If the tone of discussion seems cold here, or hostile elsewhere, it's because of the deception element, not the child itself. And yeah, possibly better that the guy remove himself from the equation if hostility is his reaction. And if he doesn't care: great! But your solution is... what? Better he doesn't know?
posted by dreamsign at 4:31 AM on April 27, 2007


Doohickie, I was more referring to the "you can't have but one" phrasing. What I mean is: who talks like that, full stop?
posted by the other side at 4:38 AM on April 27, 2007


What I mean is: who talks like that, full stop?

Someone who writes like this:

Shamie reassured the girl as best he could, struggling to conceal his shock. He and his first wife had been married for 8 years. He'd heard rumors now and then that she'd been stepping out, but he hadn't wanted to believe it. His life back then, after all, had seemed perfect—a high-paying job at a commercial loan company, a beautiful wife, two adoring children. …

That is, I think the "you can't have but one" quote was either re-tooled for (horrible) style or made up whole cloth.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:49 AM on April 27, 2007


But your solution is... what?

You're right, I don't have a solution. All I was doing was responding to what I saw as the rather nasty undertone of the piece, which implied both hatred and suspicion of women, and that children are merely the genetic and financial possessions of their fathers.
posted by Sonny Jim at 4:49 AM on April 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Doohickie, I was more referring to the "you can't have but one" phrasing. What I mean is: who talks like that, full stop?

Captain Malcolm Reynolds.

I just found the tone a little ... off, what with its painting of women, doctors, and (female) social workers as 'villains' and men as innocent 'victims' who might be omg raising another man's child, as though that were just the worst thing that could possibly be.

It's a complex issue, but if willful deceit is happening, whether through omission or lies, then yes, the men are victims in that case. It's worth understanding why doctors (or wives, for that matter) don't want to break up families, but, um, you know, lying and infidelity and all that. And then there's a human being at stake, to boot. Rough stuff all around.

How would the wife feel if the husband came home and said, "oh, hey honey, I knocked up our lawyer, and you're going to take care of the kid." It's quite a bit different than "let's adopt," aye?

As for "Paternity Discrepancy," on the one hand I believe "genetic lineage" is overrated (a point I illustrate rather well), but on the other hand I'd hate to be lied to and abused like that.

That's really the core of it.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:54 AM on April 27, 2007



As for the tone of the article look at the rest of the site. ("Men's Health" - that is.)
posted by From Bklyn at 4:58 AM on April 27, 2007


As the poster, I agree that the tone was a bit histrionic in a local news sort of way (COULD YOUR CHILD BE THE MAILMAN'S!?!??!?!?), but I found the conundrum of the doctors and social workers to be interesting enough to balance it out.

This is definitely a thing that happens, after all, even if rarely.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:02 AM on April 27, 2007


who might be omg raising another man's child, as though that were just the worst thing that could possibly be.

I guess it's impossible to suppose the equivalent situation for a woman, but suppose the story was that a woman went in for in vitro fertilization (her egg, her husband's sperm) and didn't know that her husband had arranged for his secret girlfriend's egg to be used? (Or the girlfriend arranged it somehow? As I said, an equivalent story is hard to concoct. How do they accidentally mix up the eggs? Anyway...) Don't you think the wife would be just a bit disenchanted with her husband and child and marriage when she discovered that her husband cheated on her and she had raised the other woman's child as a result?

That's how murderers are created.
posted by pracowity at 5:13 AM on April 27, 2007


I wasn't going to comment in this thread, but I think that it is important for you all to hear the other side of this issue. I impregnate married women. I have managed to do this without their husband's being aware of it four times, and with the wife telling her husband once, but not telling him that it was me. I plan to do it again as many times as I can, and I have one very strong prospect now that I am working on, and two possibilities. I do it for several reasons. I think that having many descendants is the closest anyone can get to immortality. I think that my genes are good for the gene pool, and it makes the world a better place to pass them on. However, I don't really like being around kids. They take a lot of work, and they cost a lot of money. I like driving a nice car and taking nice vacations and stuff. These are things you can't do once you have kids, because all your money is going to raising them. So I don't get married and start a family because then I would have to pay to raise the kids, and I don't impregnate single women, because then I would have to pay child support. Therefore, the only option left open to me is to impregnate married women. This way I get to have children, but not pay for them. Married women already have built-in child support, so they never have to come to me for money for junior's diapers. This also allows the families that I interject my genes into to get a healthy, handsome above-average intelligence baby. So, in a way, everyone is a winner. It is also a cycle. If someone has to raise a kid then they are always tired, prematurely old, they never have nice things, they are out of shape, and they never have time to devote to courtship. So, once you have a kid, nobody wants to sleep with you, which decreases your chances of having more children. I, however, get to devote my time to staying in shape, and devote my money to nice clothes, a sports car and taking poor neglected housewives out for drinks and listening to their problems. By not raising them, I increase my long-term chances of producing children. If I weren't cuckolding these "fathers" then someone else would be, and at least I am disease free and never break up their happy little home by suggesting that their wives run away with me. Often times the "fathers" are guys that I know socially (I guess that you could call them friends) and when they drive up to the bar in their minivan to meet me for a drink and start bitching about their boring hum-drum lives, the only advice that I ever give them is "Hey buddy, you're a dad now. You have got to focus on your kids and make sure that you are there for them." I think of it as doing my part to contribute to the upbringing of my children.
posted by ND¢ at 5:21 AM on April 27, 2007 [30 favorites]



Boy, and I thought this was painful.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:28 AM on April 27, 2007


Why is spousal infidelity assumed in every case? What ever happened to babies getting switched in the baskets at the hospital?

Genetic testing is sensitive to the material that comes from both parents, so if testing reveals the child has DNA from the mother and from a man other than her husband, then spousal infidelity is a more likely cause than switched bassinets.
posted by kcds at 5:30 AM on April 27, 2007


Genetic testing is sensitive to the material that comes from both parents, so if testing reveals the child has DNA from the mother and from a man other than her husband, then spousal infidelity is a more likely cause than switched bassinets.

But what if they only switch half the bassinet?
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:46 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Once a cuckold (twice in one day woohoo!) accepts (wittingly or unwittingly) the role of parent, the die is cast. It may not seem fair, but what is in the child's best interest is often not.

But is it in the child's best interest? Speaking for myself, I think if I found my child was not my child, the kind of support I give now would - change. Not her fault, but there's a reason divorce often follows these situations. Which, I understand, is not always in the child's best interest.

As to NDcents, I find the funniest part of his post is not his punnish handle but the claim that he's a lawyer. (I'm assuming he's writing fiction here. Taking up the thread, I like to imagine both "parents" of one of his spawn dying in a Terrible Accident and he being stuck with the upkeep of the bratty kids who are just like him only shorter and more clever. Stuff of cheap sitcoms!)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:58 AM on April 27, 2007


Personally I'm not a fan of fictional comments on mefi like ndcent's.
posted by jouke at 6:08 AM on April 27, 2007


The mysogyny in the article really comes out in this passage:
Of course, lying is nothing new in the world of medicine. As late as 1970, doctors infamously withheld cancer diagnoses "for the good of the patient." (After all, they figured, these patients were doomed anyway, so what good would knowing do them?) This ended when it collectively dawned on doctors that, good intentions notwithstanding, paternalism was probably not the best approach. But given the nondisclosure policy of most genetic counselors these days, it might as well be 1970 again-except that now, with women dominating 92 percent of the field, paternalism seems to have been replaced by maternalism.
I mean, yikes!
dreamsign:
The argument for common-law marriage mirrors this, sadly (I am not a proponent). So you live with someone for 20 years and choose not to marry. That was your choice. Why should you have the rights of a married person? (my position goes a little further: if there is one legal contract in society that people understand, it is a marriage contract) But proponents argue power imbalance, so the common law marriage instrument is used to redress the social, and inevitably legal, disadvantage.
If it makes you feel better, common law marriages don't spontaneously self-generate. The parties involved actually do have to register or otherwise declare the marriage in order to get the benefits in most states.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:12 AM on April 27, 2007


I dunno, I'm all confused on the topic, but it seems to me society would be well-advised to tread carefully when it comes to assigning parental responsibilities based purely on a calculation of what's "best" for the child, in the absence of a positive risk.

...that's the kind of thinking that got Australia their "lost generation".

There's also an aspect of distrust of single parents that kinda bothers me, but as I said, I'm confused.
posted by aramaic at 6:28 AM on April 27, 2007


No worries over here, I'm 99.9% sure who my father is because everybody says I look just like him. On the other hand, I know who gave birth to me too but there's this lingering doubt...Anyway, I guess the people at Men's Health never watch soaps because this "wait a minute, that's not my kid?" stuff is standard fare and it happens and is discovered in every convoluted way possible. Truth isn't always stranger than fiction.

Rob511, great reference! I wonder how many here got it? And re the ND¢ post, that's the funniest thing I've read on MeFi in a while. Dude must be hawt, all these married women wanna risk their marriages to have his babies...
posted by fuse theorem at 6:31 AM on April 27, 2007


Doohickie, I was more referring to the "you can't have but one" phrasing.

See, that didn't strike me as at all awkward.

I guess I been in Texas too long. But don' worry, I'm fixin' ta visit my kin up north soon and they'll learn me how ta talk proper agin.
posted by Doohickie at 6:35 AM on April 27, 2007


Not any result, no matter how unjust. Simply the same application of law - and same result- as it would apply to other any adoptive parent/legal guardian. The key here is acceptance. If a man chooses not to inquire about paternity before accepting, this is his failing, not the kid's.
  1. Who said anything about the kid being to blame?
  2. It's the (possible) father's "failing" for not demanding a test that may very well end his family even if the kid is his? Why is it not the mother's failing for, uh, you know, cheating?
  3. If you're going to attempt to describe this situation in cold and legal terms, let's do it properly: What you're describing is a contract entered into under fraudulent misrepresentation. Such contracts are not legally binding.
posted by Flunkie at 6:38 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I impregnate married women."

Damn. That was actually a pretty good troll.
posted by Mcable at 6:40 AM on April 27, 2007


Hey everyone! DOUBT YOUR FAMILY!!
posted by gignomai at 7:03 AM on April 27, 2007


I'm really stunned that infidelity is assumed in all of these cases.

There's a lot of mysogyny showing in the replies to the article on that website. "I'd kill her and the baby." "I don't know what I'd do but she'd better stay away from me." "I would divorce that bitch." Etc. Disgusting.

Why is it assumed that the woman is lying? Don't you think that in many of these cases, SHE doesn't know either? For many women, I suspect it doesn't matter at all. She bore the child, she loves the child, her husband or SO loves the child, was present at the birth, who cares? Obviously if she suspects it's another person, he should be informed. I'm not condoning lying here. But I would be willing to guess that many women have no idea that the baby is not her partners, or assume it is. Wishful thinking?

It's very sad to me that it matters so much to men whether it's their kid or not, especially after raising it for 12 years or more, like some of the men in the story. I can understand that the emotions must be complex, but that child knows you as dad - your love honestly diminishes because he's not your bio kid? You immediately feel betrayed by the mom, who may or may not know that you are not the dad?

It's the automatic "this changes everything" thing that baffles me, especially once it's been years since the kid was born. But then again, I don't really understand the deep need of having a bio kid either.
posted by agregoli at 7:04 AM on April 27, 2007


This story reminds me of an engrossing popular science book I read regarding sexual strategy and infidelity tactics - Sperm Wars: Infidelity, Sexual Conflict, and Other Bedroom Battles by Robin Baker.
posted by ikahime at 7:07 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Men throughout the history of the species who have invested all their time and energy in children who weren't theirs no longer have genes in the population."

They are, in other words, extinct.


Because, you know, you are so amazing that you are a species unto yourself and therefore MUST perpetuate your genetic line. For the good of... um... the all. Yeah, that's it.


But while men may be the primary victims of PD, women aren't the only villains. [emphasis mine]

Whaaat? But I thought all the evils of the world were perpetrated by the vast feminist conspiracy? Or do you mean their "male consorts on the left"?
posted by gignomai at 7:15 AM on April 27, 2007


1. Some women are bad guys. This is hard for us to accept.
2. Paternity is a feminist issue. pracowity has an interesting idea, and the conclusion is that familial relationships are about trust, without trust, no relationship.
3. As a society we are in denial about paternity as a part of our larger denial about sex and the realities of love. As the DNA database expands, these issues will increasingly come to the surface. mr indecent will no doubt end up in debtors' prison.
4. Doctors lie. Even when they aren’t, they still make mistakes. Often. Perhaps we should stop trusting them. Case in point - german doctor basket case who says incest children are 50% likely to have defects... uh... no.
posted by ewkpates at 7:19 AM on April 27, 2007


You know, this is the kind of dumb-ass evolutionary reporting that makes intelligent design seem credible to some people:

"Studies show that evolution has designed men to care deeply about who their children are."

AARRRGGGGG!!!!!

This is not even remotely true. There are many societies where fatherhood is defined by who legitimates the child--in the case of married women this is virtually always the husband. This is common enough that anthropologists needed to distinguish the concept of "genitor" from "pater." In some cases the role of genitor was so unimportant that anthropologists believed people were actually unaware of how babies were conceived.
posted by carmen at 7:19 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


And one more thing:

"You raise a kid for 12 years and you think it's your kid, and then this news comes. It was heartbreaking,"

Ok, sure, yes, I'm with you...

"It was like I had an adoption forced on me."

...

From where I'm sitting, the selfishness and obtuseness of that statement is just breathtaking. No dude, no, it isn't, it was like you raised a kid for 12 years who has thought of you as their father for their entire young lives, who turned out not to be biologically yours. I'm pretty sure that's not at all like having someone run up and forcibly thrust some unknown child into your arms.
posted by gignomai at 7:35 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


The so called reporter who wrote this story has some serious issues to work through. What is more important, whether kids grow up with a father (correct biological one or not) or that dads never get fooled. These are some horrible stories, and I don't know how I would feel if it was me (luckily my kids look more like me than the milkman) but this article focuses way too much on the injustices to the men. I detect a bitter author who may have been personally affected in some way by this or a related issue.
posted by caddis at 7:35 AM on April 27, 2007


On this issue, my Mother once said to me "Mommy's baby; Daddy's maybe" (disturbing, thanks Mom).

But, putting aside the quality of the article for a moment, I find the whole concept terrifying. Not just because my Superior Genetic Makeup will not be passed on, but because I suspect that when I finally am given the chance to impregnate some lucky female (God willing) I will have a nagging concern that the child she has may not be mine.

I don't want to have to doubt my wife or child, so to eliminate any possibility, I'd want a test. But then that seems like an accusation. Yet I think I would trust my wife. Yet no one can be trusted absolutely. And, at this point, I would have a nervous breakdown and run screaming out of the hospital.

Perhaps ignorance truly is bliss (ignorance of the odds of cuckoldry, that is).
posted by mjbraun at 7:55 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why is it assumed that the woman is lying? Don't you think that in many of these cases, SHE doesn't know either?

Then why do vehement denials and screaming usually follow when they're asked? They refuse to admit even the possibility, that's lying. Pretty damn simple. If the women in question had any ethics and honesty in them, THEY would get the damn test done.
posted by IronLizard at 8:04 AM on April 27, 2007


Who wouldn't be offended to be accused of cheating? It's idiotic to assume otherwise. Would you like to be accused of it?

So much mysogyny. Those stupid lying bitches, right?
posted by agregoli at 8:09 AM on April 27, 2007


I think dishonesty about paternity defrauds the children as well as the father, and I don't suppose the moral and psychological consequences of being a parasite are that great for the mother either.

What if it were reversed? Suppose you were adopted: after your foster parents die, your biological mother turns up on the doorstep. She has no money and is in poor health: moreover, she demands a lot of support and attention. You pay off her debts and care for her for 18 or more years, giving up your own social life and dealing patiently with her complex emotional demands.

"Hey," she then says, "I was never your mother, schmuck: I just read your name in the paper. But I figured on the one hand I'd get a living out of you and on the other you'd get the chance to love me and do stuff for me."

You embrace her and say "That was a wonderful thing you did for me, Mommy."

No, I wouldn't either.
posted by Phanx at 8:14 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


What is more important, whether kids grow up with a father (correct biological one or not) or that dads never get fooled.

How utterly ridiculous. The kid has a father. HE'S THE GUY WHO FUCKED MOM. When are the actual parents going to be held responsible? Oh, he's not as good a father? The mom should have kept her pants on or used a rubber. She knows who he is. A simple paternity test would solve that problem real quick. If they refuse to say who it is, they're the ones keeping the kid from having a father.
posted by IronLizard at 8:16 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


mjbraun -- You want a child. Your wife is going to have a child. And you're going to schitz out about whether or not to get a paternity test??

Seriously, who the hell even really cares all that much, especially if they actively wanted a child from the get-go?

I mean, I would understand being angry with the wife for the cheating and any subsequent lying about it, but how much does it really matter for your relationship to this kid that it be in all senses *technically* yours in addition to emotionally?

And what does all this imply about adopted kids? Or is it somehow different (in terms of your relationship to the kid, not the mother) if you know it "isn't yours" from the start?
posted by gignomai at 8:20 AM on April 27, 2007


Who wouldn't be offended to be accused of cheating? It's idiotic to assume otherwise. Would you like to be accused of it?

Did you miss the women in question part of it? Of course, you did. Using the word misogyny as some sort of shield for dishonesty or get out of responsibility free card is completely disingenuous.
posted by IronLizard at 8:22 AM on April 27, 2007


Phanx: "Parasite"? What?

Also, are you seriously implying that a child is comparable to an immoral and fraudulent adult??
posted by gignomai at 8:24 AM on April 27, 2007


Seriously, who the hell even really cares all that much, especially if they actively wanted a child from the get-go?

Because this kind of dishonesty is usually the harbinger of much worse. Growing up in a home like this is certainly not 'in the best interests of the child'.
posted by IronLizard at 8:24 AM on April 27, 2007


In addition to Sperm Wars, a bit more of this kind of thing can be found in the Red Queen by Matt Ridley. One of the things I remember reading is that it's usually the mother's parents that tell the 'father' that the child has their eyes, etc. as some kind of mechanism to ensure that man feels assured that the baby really is his.

There's also a hypothesis that blue eyed men are more attracted to blue eyed mates as it gives them a sure fire way to tell whether a child is theirs: two blue eyed parents will only produce blue eyed offspring.
posted by daHIFI at 8:24 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, are you seriously implying that a child is comparable to an immoral and fraudulent adult??

I think he's calling the (defrauding) mother a parasite.
posted by IronLizard at 8:25 AM on April 27, 2007


IronLizard: So the problem isn't with women, it's with women we find questionable. I see.
posted by gignomai at 8:27 AM on April 27, 2007


ag:Who wouldn't be offended to be accused of cheating? It's idiotic to assume otherwise. Would you like to be accused of it?

So much mysogyny. Those stupid lying bitches, right?


It's weird of you to say this. Your earlier comment suggested that that the mother might not know who the actual father was. Fair. But it seems nearly certain that the mother knows she was cheating. Should she be offended anyway? It's dishonest to indignantly deny a moral wrong you know you've committed (and to cheat is usually a breach of trust; leave aside the much larger fraud on the husband in case a child results).

It's true that some of the responses to this article reek of misogyny. But by crying 'misogyny' so generally, and refusing to recognize the most obvious points of the husbands' side, you overwhelmingly give the impression that you're simply looking to vindicate the female gender, rather than collaboratively arrive at the right understanding of this particular issue.
posted by grobstein at 8:30 AM on April 27, 2007 [3 favorites]



wow, went from zero to a hundred pretty fast there.

The article (in 'Men's Health' - the 'Cosmo' of men's magazines) is undeniable misogynistic.

But it hits (sorry, stomps) on a fear among men - 'this child is not mine.'

classy, huh?

Respectfully, when you have kid(s) this whole discussion takes on an entirely different hue than when you don't. A lot of the assertions that are being thrown around, wouldn't.

People fuck up. Sometimes they apologize and sometimes those apologies are accepted, and sometimes not.

why is it assumed the woman is lying I don't understand - are you saying, she just forgot? Or that her sleeping around is irrelevant? I guess it's irrelevant if both parties know and accept it, but otherwise it's a betrayal and that is a very hard nut.

I guess an analogous article would be one in 'Cosmo' called "When your husband's other family comes to live with you..."
posted by From Bklyn at 8:31 AM on April 27, 2007


Because this kind of dishonesty is usually the harbinger of much worse.
With regards to the child, what "worse"? The dishonesty is coming from the mother, not the child. Especially in the case of the guy who had already raised the kid for 12 years -- are you proposing that the right thing to do there would be to waltz in "the guy who fucked mommy" and then haul ass outta there??

I think he's calling the (defrauding) mother a parasite.

Yeah, but I thought the rest of the "what if it were reversed" stuff was some weird "what if your mother were in the role of a child" thing?
posted by gignomai at 8:32 AM on April 27, 2007


gignomai: IronLizard: So the problem isn't with women, it's with women we find questionable. I see.

Oh come on. This is the worst kind of wordplay. IronLizard's phrase was 'the women in question.' That doesn't mean 'questionable women.' It means, the women about whom we are speaking -- in this case, the women who've decided to deceive their husbands about a child by another man.
posted by grobstein at 8:37 AM on April 27, 2007


grobstein: The "misogyny" that bugs me is this general assumption that women aren't to be trusted. Sure, if someone has cheated, then they know paternity is in question, and if they don't inform their partner of this then they're being decietful. However, particularly with regards to these circumstances where men are actively and intentionally going after having a family, I am reeeally skeptical of any man who will just demand a paternity test because he "can't know for sure." Why in the world would you want to start a family with someone whose word you didn't think you could trust on something like this? It's tragic that some people do decieve in such a dramatic fashion, but men constantly being in doubt of their wives is so not the answer...
posted by gignomai at 8:41 AM on April 27, 2007


agregoli: You've lost me. I don't understand what's happening in your hypothetical situation. A woman has a child that is not her husband's and has no idea it's not his ("wishful thinking"). If he confronts her about it later, finds out it's not his kid and calls her a lying bitch it's misogyny?

I'm not certain about whether forcing men in this sort of situation to continue to provide support is really best for the child. If he's going to be bitter about it for the rest of his life, then is it really a good idea? If the man wants no further contact with the child (sounds like a dick move from where I'm sitting, but I'm not really one to question their feelings.) then maybe that would be best for everybody.
posted by ODiV at 8:47 AM on April 27, 2007


With regards to the child, what "worse"? The dishonesty is coming from the mother, not the child. Especially in the case of the guy who had already raised the kid for 12 years -- are you proposing that the right thing to do there would be to waltz in "the guy who fucked mommy" and then haul ass outta there??

For one thing, you're harping on far too specific a case here. Circumstances vary greatly. I certainly suggest that the cuckolded father not be the one paying child support (in most states even after paternity is proven to be someone else's, he would still carry the burden). I think that the decision on the relationship is something that would need to be left to the daughter and him. They're old enough. I'm not saying he should hauls ass and I doubt he wants to. The problem here is the legal tangle it becomes. We all know how well the legal system 'takes care' of the kids. I don't have all the answers, but I can tell you this is bullshit as it stands.

The "misogyny" that bugs me is this general assumption that women aren't to be trusted.


Exactly who has said that women in general can't be trusted? Specifically? That would be sexist. We all know that people in general can't be trusted. If they could, we wouldn't have Jerry Springer and his ilk.
posted by IronLizard at 8:48 AM on April 27, 2007


Also, grobstein: You're right about the wordplay, but I do think that in this article and in a lot of the comments here, the standard seems to be to "question" women pretty much all the time, before you even have any reason to do so beyond "It didn't come out of me, therefore I can't reeeeeally know." I was trying, and apparently failing, to highlight that being "in question" is initiated by suspicion on the part of someone else (whether founded or not), not some inherent quality in the women themselves.
posted by gignomai at 8:48 AM on April 27, 2007


This is precisely why I got a vasectomy. Damned if I'm going to get stuck with a kid.

It's a great feeling knowing it can't be yours.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:48 AM on April 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


We all know that people in general can't be trusted. If they could, we wouldn't have Jerry Springer and his ilk.


That's just ridiculous. How does that demonstrate anything besides "People can be trusted in general, with a handful of exceptions"?
posted by gignomai at 8:50 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's just ridiculous. How does that demonstrate anything besides (blah blah blah)

It doesn't illustrate a damn thing. Snark usually stands on it's own two crooked legs.
posted by IronLizard at 8:53 AM on April 27, 2007


Well, at least it's nice to know you agree with everything else I said.
posted by IronLizard at 8:54 AM on April 27, 2007


If I ever have kids, I'm definitely getting them paternity tested. Seems easy enough, and mommy never has to know about it.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:55 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I agree with Carmen that "genitor" must be differentiated from "pater"; the problem is that in contemporary American society we do know where conception comes from and we don't like to be tricked and cheated. That's what I'm saying. For me it's just as bad to be tricked into raising and supporting a kid you did make as to tricked into raising and supporting one you didn't.

I also say that in this culture knowingly and voluntarily raising a child you did not sire is nobler than raising one you're sure is biologically yours, assuming of course that you have any business being around any children at all. I'm thinking of one witting and voluntary stepfather in particular who's a far bitter person and was a far better dad than the lowlife scumbag who knocked the woman up ever could have been, and of all the lives made hell because of "shotgun marriages" where genitor and pater were the same disgusting (but handsome) person.

But let's take a poll of Mefi men: would you rather raise and support a kid you made without meaning to, or knowingly raise and support a kid you didn't make? Like, would you rather a drunken blunder with a stranger result in 18 years of marriage and fatherhood, or would you rather your beloved wife cheat on you once and conceive by that union?
posted by davy at 9:14 AM on April 27, 2007


Who wouldn't be offended to be accused of cheating? It's idiotic to assume otherwise. Would you like to be accused of it?

So you're damned if you do, damned (in some cases) if you don't. Time to make the government do it so at least everyone is hating the right people!

Anyway, one way or another this will get sorted out in the next 50 years or so. Genetic testing and family history will become a normal part of the pre-natal process and once that happens you won't be able to hide this.

It'll actually be interesting to see how people react to the inability to hide the parentage of their children - I wonder if this kind of thing will pop up a lot?

Also, just because it's crying out for a link in this thread: whoops
posted by concreteforest at 9:19 AM on April 27, 2007


Also, just because it's crying out for a link in this thread: whoops

People decrying how mean and evil the guy was to a poor innocent female in 3 2 1...
posted by IronLizard at 9:26 AM on April 27, 2007


A little research turned this up :

The mother’s participation in the paternity test helps to exclude half of the child’s DNA, leaving the other half for comparison with the alleged father’s DNA. However, we can perform a paternity test without mother’s participation (called a motherless), which involves additional analysis, without any additional charge. Results are equally conclusive whether or not the mother participates. Motherless tests are guaranteed to have at least a 99.9% probability of paternity for inclusions and 100% for exclusion.

So, really, the mother never even has to know. I don't see why more men don't do this.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:31 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks concreteforest, I couldn't recall where I'd seen that.

And it sucks to be accused of cheating, especially when you didn't. It also sucks to be cheated on and spend the rest of your life paying for somebody else's "mistake."

If a woman asked for my advice I'd say "Don't be offended by his wish for a paternity test: what if it were you? Men are people too you know."
posted by davy at 9:34 AM on April 27, 2007


[T]his article focuses way too much on the injustices to the men.

Who else should it focus on? It's an article written to a male audience about men who find out that their children are not biologically theirs. By the nature of how the issue works, all the mothers in the article are going to come off poorly, because they all must have cheated on their spouse at least once, and in at least two of the stories, willfully lied to their spouses about paternity. And because of the yellow journalism, the examples are all pretty extreme examples of nastiness.

I'd find it insanely condescending and far more misogynistic if the article had to *point out* that not all women are "stupid lying bitches." Anyone with two brain cells to rub together would know that. Anyone who came away from the article actively thinking that themselves was probably riding first car on the Misogyny Train to begin with.

Look, women and men are people. People do good things and people do bad things. People sometimes cheat, and sometimes cheating results in a baby, and because of how babies are made, a mother will always know she is the mother, but a father can only trust that he is the father. Hopefully, by the time you're in a relationship long enough where you're committed and babies are happening, the trust is so high that it isn't a question at all.

At any rate, maybe it's just me, but when I read the article, I didn't come away distrusting women, but just finding this particular bizarre moral quandary to be interesting, especially when the doctors had to choose whether or not to disclose information.

I was trying, and apparently failing, to highlight that being "in question" is initiated by suspicion on the part of someone else (whether founded or not), not some inherent quality in the women themselves.

I see articles in Cosmo about how to catch guys that are cheating. I don't come away feeling implicated or paranoid, because I have nothing to hide. It also goes to show you that sometimes people can tell when their loved ones are cheating, even if they have no hard evidence as yet. And a man who felt that all women were suspicious by dint of being women would be an enormous, gaping asshole. But the article wasn't "HOW TO CATCH YOUR LYING BITCH WIFE," or "GIT YET PATERNITY TEST ON PAPER STAT." It was about men finding out that their children were not biologically theirs. For those men, the mystery is over.

Seriously, who the hell even really cares all that much, especially if they actively wanted a child from the get-go?

There is a physical aspect to having a child. It is just one aspect. Just one. And things like love and responsibility and being there are far more important. But it exists, even if it's just feelings about those physical aspects, and dismissing these concerns in such a blase fashion strikes me as a bit insensitive to the needs of a father who was not prepared to give that up.

Look. I'm going to take a hit for the team and provide an exceptionally obnoxious example. Let's say that Sue goes to her gynecologist and learns that she is absolutely unable to bear children. Sue says, "but doctor, I've always wanted children, this is terrible news."

What if the gynecologist responded by saying, "Oh, just adopt. Plenty of children need good homes. What, you're going to love the kid less because he's not your bio kid? You know, in many cultures the parents are the ones who legitimately raise the children, and nobody cared who the genitor was. In some cultures, they were long unaware how babies were even conceived! You'd be pretty selfish and obtuse if you didn't love the tyke after 12 years of raising it. But what do I know, I never saw the need to have bio kids."

Pretty mean, right? Pretty insensitive? Kinda not taking Sue's feelings seriously? And I'm not saying the people whose quotes I'm blatantly stitching together are those bad or insensitive people, but just that they maybe aren't taking seriously the conflicted and negative feelings of men in a bad, bizarre situation. Those words are going to be of no comfort to anyone you're going to tell them to, even if there's some underlying truth.

(And then eventually in our story Sue gets a new gynecologist who actually treats her seriously and adopts two beautiful children and they all have a wonderful, loving life.)

And other cultures may very much differentiate genitor from pater, and that's dandy, but the target audience of that article probably does not live in those cultures. It'd be incredibly disrespectful for me to imply that they ought to live as I do, and it goes the other way, too. It *is* an issue for many people, even if you personally don't see how or why.

But let's take a poll of Mefi men: would you rather raise and support a kid you made without meaning to, or knowingly raise and support a kid you didn't make? Like, would you rather a drunken blunder with a stranger result in 18 years of marriage and fatherhood, or would you rather your beloved wife cheat on you once and conceive by that union?

All other things being equal, the former, duh. An intentional wrong happens in the last example and not in the first. Unless, of course, I'm meant to take away that the accident ended in an UNHAPPY marriage and so on, which you didn't state, in which case I guess the second, unless I'm supposed to take away that that, too, ends unhappily, in which case I guess it's a wash. In the former, at least it's our shared mistake. In the latter, maybe we were planning for a kid and then things got a little fucked up, but if I'm supposed to take away that it's an otherwise happy life, then...well, I don't know. There's not enough information there. Infidelity I can forgive, and I could very easily raise a kid who was not my own flesh and blood. But dishonesty is going to be a huge issue, even if at the end of the day, assuming a healthy relationship with the wife and kid, it ends happily.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:41 AM on April 27, 2007 [10 favorites]


ND¢, you wouldn't happen to be black, by any chance? Didn't we meet at a Mandingo party once?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:41 AM on April 27, 2007


Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America writes 'It's a great feeling knowing it can't be yours.'

Unless it's your wife announcing the happy event. Then, it's not so great.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:46 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who wouldn't be offended to be accused of cheating?

Well, I can tell you who doesn't have a right to be offended by an accusation of cheating: someone who has been cheating. The reality is that accusations of cheating (regardless of which gender is doing the accusing) are frequently based in reality. And when people who have been cheating act offended and hurt they are not exhibiting a natural reaction in response to mistrust, they are putting on an act in order to perpetuate a lie.

With respect to the question of the case where the woman doesn't know who the father is, but is honest about the fact with the father... I suspect this is not necessarily uncommon, and I wonder how or if it fits into the statistics on "paternity discrepancy" cited in the article - which I'm sort of skeptical of anyway, but I'm not a big fan of meta-analysis). But it is clearly not what people are talking about. If a man knew that he is not in a monogamous relationship, or finds out there was infidelity because an unplanned pregnancy causes the woman to decide she must reveal the infidelity, the man is given the information that he needs and deserves about the pregnancy. It is a totally different situation. And really, it is a case where paternity should be established for the sake of medical issues.

Like, would you rather a drunken blunder with a stranger result in 18 years of marriage and fatherhood, or would you rather your beloved wife cheat on you once and conceive by that union?

Are those seriously the only options? I'll say this - I feel 100% that if I found out I wasn't the biological father of my son, I would feel the same about him. What is between us is a relationship, not a line of genetic descent. I don't know if my marriage could survive that level of dishonesty, though.
posted by nanojath at 9:51 AM on April 27, 2007


So, really, the mother never even has to know. I don't see why more men don't do this.

Because it's an act of profound distrust? You know, you can have the bitch tailed by a PI too.
posted by nanojath at 9:54 AM on April 27, 2007


Very eloquent Sticherbestie
posted by jouke at 9:56 AM on April 27, 2007


The law should provide for a time period before a father acknowledges a child during which he can confidentially have the paternity of the child tested.

I agree. I'm comfortable with that period being eighteen years.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:15 AM on April 27, 2007


Also, just because it's crying out for a link in this thread: whoops

Wow. Revisionist much? I like how he finds out his "girlfriend" has been cheating on him and is pregnant with someone else's child and he's ecstatic about it. Can you imagine going through life actively hoping people will soon prove their unworthiness? I'd like to think he left out his disappointment and pain, but maybe he is just a dick.
posted by ODiV at 10:24 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Or maybe he made the whole thing up. This IS the internet, you know.

I don't see the part where he's going through life hoping for anyone to prove their unworthiness. Read into things much?

but maybe he is just a dick.


He catches this sleazy scam in progress, turns it around on the would be scammer and HE'S the dick? I shouldn't be surprised. There's a great number of asinine opinions on anything out there in this odd world. Make no mistake, this is a scam and a dirty one, at that. I bet you weren't making this same noise about the cardboard laptop. This particular scam is far more damaging and fucked up than losing a mere laptop.
posted by IronLizard at 10:38 AM on April 27, 2007


Wow, explosive thread (count).

Waaay up: If it makes you feel better, common law marriages don't spontaneously self-generate. The parties involved actually do have to register or otherwise declare the marriage in order to get the benefits in most states.

Not in my province and in many others. *holds up common-law, ringless fingers*

If that's a big difference between the States and Canada, then... good on you, States. It's a single year where I was living. A year. Congratulations, you're legally married.
posted by dreamsign at 10:41 AM on April 27, 2007


As written, he's a dick, sure. I'm not saying it wasn't a horrible thing that was almost done to him; horrible things can happen to dicks too.

I don't believe he's actually a dick. I think he's writing for the Internet audience.

That's a lot of dicks. Dick dick dick dick dick.

On preview: dreamsign: are you certain about that? For taxes we had to actually declare as common-law. Ditto for car insurance. How can the government tell if you're sleeping together and not just roommates? What if you start out as roommates and then start sleeping together? What if you have two roommates and occasionally sleep with both of them? This is too confusing.
posted by ODiV at 10:47 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, that's the thing, with common law marriage (just done away with here recently) you are supposed to follow the laws of your state when it comes to filing taxes. In reality, the IRS won't ever know if you just file separately. Unless you decide to split and one party decides to go the divorce route, for the obvious reasons. Then all hell breaks loose because all they have to do is prove they were living together for more than X years (I think it was 2 here).
posted by IronLizard at 10:54 AM on April 27, 2007


So, really, the mother never even has to know. I don't see why more men don't do this.

Because it's an act of profound distrust? You know, you can have the bitch tailed by a PI too.


I wouldn't see it as an act of profound distrust. Considering how painful a divorce can be for a child, I would consider it an investment in the child's future.

My point is this - I don't see what you guys are arguing so vehemently about. If a man really wants to know if he's a child's father, there's an easy way to find out, and the mother doesn't have to know about it. If he'd rather not know, or if he thinks of it as "an act of profound distrust," then he can abstain from doing so. It's his choice. Case closed.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:55 AM on April 27, 2007


On preview: dreamsign: are you certain about that?

Mrs. dreamsign: Honey? I checked out the law and we're totally married now!

dreamsign: Well I'll be...
posted by nanojath at 10:59 AM on April 27, 2007


If he'd rather not know, or if he thinks of it as "an act of profound distrust," then he can abstain from doing so.

Well, right. I never said you shouldn't do it. If you feel the sensible approach to fatherhood is to conceive a child with someone you don't trust to be faithful to you, and secretly seek scientific confirmation of your paternity (to save the child the heartbreak of future divorce, of course), more power to you.

You asked why more guys don't do it. I gave one answer. I don't go through my wife's purse, check her cell phone records, or break into her email either. I think that trust is that important in a relationship.
posted by nanojath at 11:06 AM on April 27, 2007


Eye color genetics is a real easy science fair demo. Just go around to the other kids: "What color are your eyes? What colors are your mommy's and daddy's?"

For some reason smart science teachers won't let their students do this one.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:08 AM on April 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, IAAL but this is not my area. However:

For taxes we had to actually declare as common-law.

As did we, but emphasis on the have. To not do so would be fraud. We are legally common-law, whatever we may think we can get away with (and really not worth getting kicked off the bar for some deduction). Anyway, the situation that rankles isn't tax so much but the fact that were we to separate, we would be faced with the usual asset debacle of married persons if it's acrimonious.

Mrs. dreamsign: Honey? I checked out the law and we're totally married now!

dreamsign: Well I'll be...


:) Something like that. Though she's a lawyer, too, so neither of us were surprised when the date rolled around. I think we went out for dinner to "celebrate".

Anyway, in most provinces afaik, you now need to contract to avoid common law implications, and that's just ass-backward. The one contract people in society understand, in the face of that huge "ignorance of the law" fiction, and you require them to contract out of a legal obligation. Ridiculous.
posted by dreamsign at 11:09 AM on April 27, 2007


If you feel the sensible approach to fatherhood is to conceive a child with someone you don't trust to be faithful to you, and secretly seek scientific confirmation of your paternity (to save the child the heartbreak of future divorce, of course), more power to you.

I don't think that mistrust is a requirement for secretive paternity testing.

Raising a child is a tremendous undertaking, and, going into it, a man should know for sure (or within 99% accuracy) whether or not the child is his. Furthermore, I don't think that he should have to endanger his relationship in order to have this knowledge.

Or, put another way - nature put men at a disadvantage, in that it's difficult for us to know if a child is ours. Secretive paternity testing just evens out the score a bit.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:16 AM on April 27, 2007


The idea that biological tie to a child is of little consequence, that a child’s tie to it's mother are that much greater, has never had the horrible experience of being excluded from your child’s life. To watch and hear your child refer to another man as their father is like having soul cancer. It does not kill you but you sure do wish it would. She can order a paternity on anyone she chooses and the court will not even blink in ordering it. Visitation is a maybe thing but child support is sure and quick. Child payments can be so high that the chances of having another family are remote. Men are thought of as disposable, unfeeling, animals. My love of mother, child and family cost me everything. My ex is smart and mentally ill a potent combination. The banality of evil affects both men and women. I stay here in the hope that one day I will be a part of my child’s life....someday?
posted by Rancid Badger at 11:56 AM on April 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I suggest that all of you who think it is just fine to ask your wife for a paternity test after the birth of a baby go ahead and do just that. It would be interesting to see how many of you are still married one year after pulling such a stunt. ;)
posted by caddis at 12:12 PM on April 27, 2007


All this talk about paternity tests and expense really makes me laugh.

I bet, given about twenty different pairs of men and children they lived with (so that environmentally absorbed odors would be similar for all pairs), evenly split between blood-related and not, you could teach an average young dog (it would be a new trick, after all) to reliably sniff out paternity for you and let you know, all in a single afternoon.
posted by jamjam at 12:24 PM on April 27, 2007


It would be interesting to see how many of you are still married one year after pulling such a stunt. ;)

By the time this question usually arises, they're probably already headed towards divorce already.
posted by IronLizard at 12:27 PM on April 27, 2007


You know, in many cultures the parents are the ones who legitimately raise the children, and nobody cared who the genitor was. In some cultures, they were long unaware how babies were even conceived!

You've missed my point on two counts.

1) I didn't say "it doesn't matter in other cultures so it shouldn't matter here." That is ridiculous.

I said that the evolutionary claims of the argument are false, and as evidence I suggested that there are many human cultures in which the genitor of the child is independent of the pater. If the desire to make sure that the child you are raising is your own bio-child was an inevitable evolutionary drive, it is unlikely that entire societies would accept that genitors are not the important element in defining the father-child relationship.

2) I didn't say that people weren't aware of how babies were conceived. As further proof of my argument that the fear that American men feel about having another person's child is not universal, I stated that in some places the role of genitor was so unimportant that the anthropologists thought that people didn't know about it. In fact, there is now considerable evidence that people did know, they just didn't care. Again, it can hardly be an evolutionary imperative to know who the genitor of your child is if an entire society's typical response to greeting a pregnant wife after a year's absence is "yay! a child for me!"




In sum, if you didn't want to read the whole comment, my argument was about evolutionary claims, not how people should feel or react.
posted by carmen at 1:01 PM on April 27, 2007


an act of profound distrust

Non-rhetorically speaking, what would a future-babymama have to do to make you think "I think she might be sleeping with another man."? Would anything short of catching her in the act be a justifiable reason for distrust?
posted by 23skidoo at 1:03 PM on April 27, 2007


Men are thought of as disposable, unfeeling, animals.

Blame the patriarchy, my friend. Misogyny has had some weird deleterious effects on men too, one of them being the assumption that men are too clumsy and vicious to handle childcare, an idea (among others) that makes it more ok for men to go off to war and kill other men and abandon their families.

And I'm sorry for your situation; that's a bad place to be in.
posted by emjaybee at 2:07 PM on April 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


I really want to know how an article about men who have been cheated on by their wives, who get pregnant by someone who is not the husband, is lied to about it by his wife, sometimes directly and to his face, who is assisted by a large percentage of the medical and genetic testing professional community, and who has iffy legal recourse if he does find out, and often try to do the right thing for the kids is "misogynist," that the men are not really victims, and that it's misogynistic to accuse these women of being "stupid, lying bitches."

Personally, if that's misogony, then I'm misogynistic. Misogynisitc against stupid, lying bitches. Some of these comments on seem to bend over backwards to accuse the men and absolve the women in these situations. It is a difficult situation, with no easy or obvious solution, but getting into a superior and self-righetous dudgeon about how the article writer thinks of women as "bitchez" and the whole thing is misogynisitc anyway just brushes it under the rug in the sake of ideology, without addressing the substantive issues at hand. I mean, no one has even addressed the medical issues brought up in the article, or is addressing that consequnce of these women's lies misogynistic too?

Personally, if I was ever in that situation, especially in regards to an older child, I would hope that I would try to get full custody of the child and raise her myself, because my soon-to-be-ex wife does neither deserve or have the capability to be a mother, since she is so ethically vacant. I would hope that I would, at the very least, try to be there in some capacity for this growing child. But for men who simply want to leave and wash their hands of the whole matter? I find it hard to blame them.

In regards to the idea that everything must be done for the best interest of the child, regardless of the injustice, well, they're are a lot of things that could be done in the best interest of the child. I think in a coment in a similar thread said something about having Bill Gates pay for the child's housing and schooling, which would certainly be in the child's interest. Obviously we have limits. Should the child's be taken into account in these kinds of divorces? Of course, it almost goes without saying. But should the interests of the husband, who has been defrauded and emotionally manipulated by his wife be ignored? If you do that, you're not only ignoring an injustice, you're perpetuating it. Why not force the biologically father to pay child support, perhaps in conjunction with the husband, if the wife refuses to or can't name him, well, then she goes without that percentage. Perhaps not as beneficial for the child? Perhaps, but people have to live with the consequences of their actions and lives, and when someone is a parent, their childeren have to live those consequences too.

The state dosen't generally intervene into family situations that are not as good for the child as they could be. We don't disallow people who are poor, or have gene's that would lead to a genetic disease to be parent's, so why should the state intervene so heavily in the case of these divorces? Already there has been a breach of the marriage contract, why stigmatize and sanction the victim of the fraud?
posted by Snyder at 2:20 PM on April 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


By the way, to IronLizard re: this -- Sure, I agree with most of the content, but not so much the tone. In any case, I left the discussion then because I had a class to go to (and, you know, a life to actually live, etc etc), not because I suddenly saw the brilliance of your argument and the error of my ways.
posted by gignomai at 2:35 PM on April 27, 2007


I'm female. Personally--if I wanted to have kids, my partner brought home a kid from a relationship involving them cheating on me, and there was a guarantee the other woman was not going to be involved, I would not automatically abandon the child. Kid didn't do anything wrong, and if kid needs a parent the kid is thinking of me as the parent, and I wanted a kid, well, man, I'm not going to turn an opportunity like that down. Family isn't blood, it's who treats you like family.

But I would strongly resent being legally forced to support the kid, and I sure as hell wouldn't be happy with my partner for cheating on me.

Women who cheat, lie about it, and lie to their husbands about the kids paternity are lying, cheating bitches, same way men who lie and cheat are lying, cheating bastards. I personally see nothing misogynistic about the terminology.

As for paternity tests--isn't it sort of like asking a sexual partner to show you the results of an STD test? Oh, sure, maybe it's not romantic to conceive that they have an STD and aren't telling you about it, but it sure isn't romantic if it burns when you pee, either.
posted by schroedinger at 2:47 PM on April 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


23skidoo: I suppose all sorts of things could cause distrust, the same standard things that would make anyone suspicious of their lover (unexplained phone calls from men, "working late" all the time, less interest in sex, being much more preoccupied and irritable than usual, etc etc). I don't see any reason though that in a totally normal relationship, particularly one strong enough (one would hope) to lead to marriage, one would want to get a paternity test -- other than a general distrust of women.


People decrying how mean and evil the guy was to a poor innocent female in 3 2 1...

Well, the part where he exhorts a woman to abort a child he knows isn't his is pretty hanus.
posted by gignomai at 2:48 PM on April 27, 2007


I wouldn't have a problem if a guy wanted a paternity test on our baby, if that was all it was. It seems to me like getting an STD test before sleeping with someone -- maybe a little uptight, but whatever, not a personal indictment.

But the article was humorously hysterical, and the situations pretty far-fetched. Why would the biodad show up at the little league game and yell? Why would the mom tell the kid his dad is not his biodad before she told the dad?

If my ex-husband wanted a paternity test after all these years, I'd think -- sure, whatever. OK. I didn't cheat on him, and I wouldn't have, but after all, he owes me more than $30,000 in child support, so who could blame him? In fact, my ex-husband's brother was fathered by his dad's best friend (everyone knows, now) so it does happen.

The test is an easy fix. The stakes are too high for a guy for the woman really to take it personally, I think.
posted by Methylviolet at 2:49 PM on April 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Well, the part where he exhorts a woman to abort a child he knows isn't his is pretty hanus.

Heinous? Regardless, he seemed more like he was fishing for the reaction he got before breaking the bad news. I, personally, think a bit of assholery was perfectly in order.

not because I suddenly saw the brilliance of your argument and the error of my ways.

No problem, I completely understand. It often takes people days to realize the, truly stunning , genius behind some of my arguments. You did much better, congratulations.
posted by IronLizard at 2:59 PM on April 27, 2007


The number that gets bandied about is a bit over 3%. Both 3.7% and 3.85% were mentioned in this article.

As I've done some searching on building a family tree, I was curious as to how that translates into ancestry. Assuming 3% as a conservative baseline, that means there is a 97% chance for each reported male in the ancestry to be correct.

The number of male ancestors = 2^N (number of generation) - 1. [One generation, you have 1, your father, two you have 3 (father+2 grandfathers), etc.]. The chance of being cuckold free is then .97^[(2^N)-1]

So at a 3% cuckold rate, going back five generations (the tree I am working on) there is only about a 39% chance that reported information is correct. (.97^31). In other words, statistically speaking there is a better then even chance (61%) that at least one fellow on my family tree does not belong there.

For more immediate ancestry, a 3% rate means there's a 8% chance that someone was cuckolded going back 2 generations, and a 19% chance with 3 generations. Go back far enough, and everyone is sure to be descended from one.

As far as automatic paternity testing: what is percentage of human chimeras in the population? Would it be enough to cause problems?
posted by fings at 3:02 PM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like the comparison to STD testing. I mean, if someone was offended by that request, I'd be a bit suspicious about their defensivness. Generally speaking, people don't take it personally, and if anyone said, "If you can't trust someone enough not to lie about that, then why are you having sex with them?" I believe that most people would consider the speaker a bit foolish.
posted by Snyder at 3:11 PM on April 27, 2007


I don't see any reason though that in a totally normal relationship, particularly one strong enough (one would hope) to lead to marriage, one would want to get a paternity test -- other than a general distrust of women.


What percentage of men who ask for paternity tests are in normal relationships? What percentage of men who ask for paternity test are doing so because the woman they are involved with has given them reason to suspect adultery?
posted by 23skidoo at 3:16 PM on April 27, 2007


Studies show that evolution has designed men to care deeply about who their children are..."It's not reproductively beneficial to invest all your resources in a child who is not carrying on your genetic line."

I love evolutionary psychology. Usually they like to argue that men are hardwired to cheat and women are hardwired to be monogamous. Now we learn that men are hardwired to detect the cheating that women are hardwired not to do.
posted by transona5 at 4:48 PM on April 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Heinous?

...Er, yes. I think maybe the lolcat thread has been affecting my brain. D'oh.
posted by gignomai at 7:10 PM on April 27, 2007


I like the comparison to STD testing. I mean, if someone was offended by that request, I'd be a bit suspicious about their defensivness.

You can have STDs from old relationships. They last. Pregnancies last no more than nine months or so. An STD test is checking to see if she got unlucky in past relationships. Asking for a paternity test is essentially accusing your wife of cheating. Yeah, that is good for a relationship. The moronic arguments in this thread are really amazing. Either people are completely clueless, completely insensitive, or completely lacking in any experience in a committed relationship.
posted by caddis at 7:39 PM on April 27, 2007


Late to the thread, but: Why did that Shamie guy bother with the paternity test? It is not in fact possible for two blue-eyed parents to have a brown-eyed child, right?

A couple years ago my son, 8 or 9 at the time, asked me how I could have brown eyes when both his grandparents' eyes are blue. (I explained that my birth mother took off when I was little.) Pretty sharp observation on his part, I thought.
posted by torticat at 7:50 PM on April 27, 2007


It is not in fact possible for two blue-eyed parents to have a brown-eyed child, right?

wrong
posted by caddis at 7:59 PM on April 27, 2007


You sound like a complete chump, caddis.

The fact is both women and men cheat a whole hell of a lot, and they cheat a whole hell of a lot irrespective of how much their stupid patsy of a partner trusts them.

If you want to ignore that reality, though, if you want to live in a fantasy world where fidelity means something, well, I guess that's your choice. A lot of men feel that way, and a lot of them get fucked over really hard.

Here's hoping you're one of the lucky ones, eh?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:11 PM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, your a chump. Unless you have reason to think otherwise, you give someone the benefit of the doubt. The author of this so called bit of journalism essentially advocates that all men should have paternity tests performed just in case. You just never know when those bitches are going to cheat you know. I am not saying someone shouldn't seek a test when good reason exists to doubt they are the father. I am saying that asking for one out of the blue is a de facto accusation of cheating and such an act will destroy a relationship. Nothing will break a bond of trust like an accusation of cheating, well, except an act of cheating itself. If this is how well you trust someone then you damn well should not be having kids with them in the first place.
posted by caddis at 8:26 PM on April 27, 2007


If someone just informed me that I owed them 20 years of labor and hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that incontrovertible evidence of my indebtedness could be easily produced, but that they preferred I just trust them, I would laugh at them.

I don't care who they are.

Maybe you feel that I'm a worse person for not putting vast amounts of time and money on the line believing in a romantic myth, but I'm OK with that.

Trust, but verify. If someone thinks they should be unconditionally trusted with matters of that weight, even though verification is simple at cheap, they aren't worth my time. Someone who needs to be trusted that much is inherently untrustworthy.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:39 PM on April 27, 2007


Emjaybee patriarchy is in my experience outmoded. Women for the most part have the largest role in forming the world of children. It is takes greater emotional toll to separate from your primary care taker. if you are male. Teachers most often women;. historically were next to moms, the shaper of boys. Boys have a harder time in school, are more likely to drop out, and less likely to go to college. Men have fewer friendships and are more likely to commit and complete suicide Men have are overwhelmingly likely to commit a crime and serve time. Men suffer in much greater numbers as addicts. Prostrate cancer kills many more people than breast cancer, not that it matters as they die earlier than women. Men/boys. ordered to war were always though to be expendable to advance a nations political goal, and I rarely read .about women protesting this. Women got to bring a life into the world, while men went to war to kill or be killed. Both of which stripped their soul. Nurses that I experienced on ICU were in control of patient care with doctors usually just reviewing and rubber stamping. Who has greater input into society, women. Women had few choices in their role in society in the past, but men fewer still. For the most part men received few accolades for working jobs that sucked the life out of them. TV portrays men as clowns who are still dependent on women. Women are shown as being clever in there manipulating men into thinking that they have control. If women were portrayed as such it would raise hue and cry of misogamy. Lawyers routinely tell there clients to obtain a restraining order. In mass all that is needed to force you to leave your house is that she has FEAR even if you have never threatened or assaulted her. These orders go into a permanent file. A man who gets emotionally and physically abused and an attempt to obtain a restraining order is thought as overreacting, one is thought as less of a man for it and it is rarely granted. Tough men suck it up, children and women are the only ones that legitimately cry. Madison Ave. has sold America on the need of both parents working . My mother did not work until her kids were in high school. She ran the house and was central in organizing the community.
She knew all the other family on the street and incorporated our family into the community. She ran the Democrat party on the local level Mom helped to find ways to help community members who were having a hard time. She was the one of many that put bags of groceries on the front porch. If somebody had car troubles and needed to go to the doctors, needed children watched after, or shopping, no problem. Those women filled the library, had sewing circles, planed parties, took the children to the pool. It looks like feminism was a double edge sword. Skin hunger satisfaction is always available to women, men get porn or get to pay for a sub, really pathetic. Women get to do it all now, men are too afraid of having to fight a stacked deck. I really enjoy women it’s like a yin/yang. Completion of your other side, but I never want to go through family court again
posted by Rancid Badger at 8:52 PM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Except that many men don't have any reason to believe they're not the father, as the studies linked upthread indicate.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:58 PM on April 27, 2007


If someone just informed me that I owed them 20 years of labor and hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that incontrovertible evidence of my indebtedness could be easily produced, but that they preferred I just trust them, I would laugh at them.

I am talking about your wife, not some bimbo you banged in a back alley. When you are married and have a kid wives don't have to ask you put out the labor and $ to raise the kids, well, if they do then you are probably going to be a pretty bad dad. We are talking about different things. Now if we are not, and you are married and have no other reason to feel that your wife has cheated on you and you nonetheless demand a paternity test, then you are doomed to a life of failed relationships.
posted by caddis at 9:04 PM on April 27, 2007


Hey caddis, good luck.
posted by IronLizard at 9:32 PM on April 27, 2007


Married women cheat too. They cheat all them time. There are thousands and thousands of married women having sex with men who aren't there husbands right now.

If you're cool with incurring all of the costs involved with a child just because your wife decided to cheat on you, that's fine. I'm not.

If a woman has a problem with me confirming that "our" child is really ours, she can go fuck herself. I have no use for someone who thinks they have the right to keep that a secret.

I don't need a woman in my life so badly that I'll put up with being lied to and manipulated on that level.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:38 PM on April 27, 2007


I'm thinking all the misogyny is helping the opposition. If a person thought paternity tests should be routine, and as free of implied judgment as STD tests -- as I do -- why the vitriol?

Why is your (theoretical) wife automatically a lying ho-bag if she has a different way of looking at it?
posted by Methylviolet at 10:07 PM on April 27, 2007


The fact is both women and men cheat a whole hell of a lot, and they cheat a whole hell of a lot irrespective of how much their stupid patsy of a partner trusts them.

Hmm. Most of the people I've known throughout my life who have said things like this say it with such conviction because they themselves are quite the cheaters.

The rest of us normal, reasonable, and trustworthy people just go about our lives in a normal, reasonable, and trustworthy way, which generally involves accepting the word of our loved ones. But hey, if you want to live in a perpetual state of insecurity, have at it.
posted by gignomai at 10:08 PM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


The rest of us normal, reasonable, and trustworthy people just go about our lives in a normal, reasonable, and trustworthy way, which generally involves accepting the word of our loved ones.

Then one day, you wake up and finally realize you've been played for a sucker.

No it's not normal, but it sure as hell is common
posted by IronLizard at 10:21 PM on April 27, 2007


just go about our lives in a normal, reasonable, and trustworthy way

It may be normal, but it's also apparently normal to get stuck paying for someone else's kid. Apparently normal isn't quite the gold standard one might think.

There's nothing reasonable about incurring great expense in reliance on someone's word when the underlying facts could be easily and independently verified. That's just stupid. If you did that in any context outside of a romantic relationship, you'd be mocked as an idiot. The only reason it's considered acceptable in a relationship is we have this notion of romantic love overcoming human fallibility. There's nothing reasonable about trusting love-magic to make everyone perfect.

Finally, being trustworthy is no defense against being taken advantage of. You seem to have this idea (which also comes out in your imputation of untrustworthiness to me) that the untrustworthy only prey on each other and if we only believe--against all evidence--that people always mean well, somehow it will come true! That idea is to stupid for words.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:22 PM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nope, I myself have been played quite the fool in my own time (although it has never involved children). I don't think the untrustworthy only prey on each other -- I just think that it is actually better for me (practically, as well as in a "better for my soul" sense) to generally trust people who seem trustworthy enough until I have a good reason to doubt them. I really can't see how that's at all foolish, and frankly I think the rest of you are pretty damn foolish for keeping yourselves from experiencing a real, trusting, and loving relationship with someone just because OMG MUST PROTECT MY INVESTMENT from that lying 3.8%. Didn't see that number? Check the article again.

And on that note:

it's also apparently normal to get stuck paying for someone else's kid.

Do you realize how crazy and paranoid this sounds? Seriously? I can't be the only one who thinks this statement is just wild.
posted by gignomai at 10:34 PM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do you realize how crazy and paranoid this sounds? Seriously? I can't be the only one who thinks this statement is just wild.

Only if you're divorced from reality. 1 in 25 isn't a huge stretch. Less people in the US have AIDS and people worry about that.
posted by IronLizard at 10:46 PM on April 27, 2007


Do you realize how crazy and paranoid this sounds? Seriously?.

Gee, it only happened to a million other men! It could never happen to me! 3.8% is such a tiny number. Why, the AIDS prevalence rate is far lower than that. Those crazy people and their condoms! Risk of getting into a severe car wreck next time I go driving? A lot less than 3.8%! Those crazy people and their seat belts.

If something doesn't happen to most people, I'm sure it won't happen to me, and only crazy people worry about such risks anyway.

It's pretty hilarious that you think a relationship can't "loving" or "real" unless the women is allowed to keep secret the paternity of her children. Love is a lack of accountability, or something.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:53 PM on April 27, 2007


Dude, if she is fucking TELLING you it's your child, then she's hardly "keeping it a secret." If you want to go ahead and doubt what your own wife is telling you, sure, get a paternity test, and when you tell her about it you'll rightly lose her trust and possibly get your ass divorced. If you don't tell her about it -- well, who's the duplicitous one now?

And I was never saying that people shouldn't even consider the possibility, especially if it seems like a risk, i.e. if their partner has been giving them any indications that they might be seeing anyone on the side. But otherwise, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Do you seriously see this as a "lack of accountability"?? And hey, while we're at it, why is "accountability" apparently only such an issue when it has to do with fidelity? Why not demand reciepts for every purchase your wife makes, as well as photocopies for all her medical records, and have a PI tail her? You know, to make everything truly accountable?


How many men here advocating for this are actually married? I'd be interested in hearing what your wives had to say if you got up from the computer right now, approached them, and said "Hey, if/when you get pregnant, would you mind doing a paternity test for me? I just want to be sure, you know."
posted by gignomai at 11:18 PM on April 27, 2007


IronLizard & Mr. President = Note that the comment I was calling "crazy" was the following:

it's also apparently normal to get stuck paying for someone else's kid.


No, it isn't. It just isn't. Getting stuck paying for someone else's child is pretty damn abnormal.
posted by gignomai at 11:20 PM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


And hey, while we're at it, why is "accountability" apparently only such an issue when it has to do with fidelity?...You know, to make everything truly accountable?

Most of what you're suggesting would not be worth the effort. Your argument basically boils down to, "if you demand verification when it's easy to provide and involves important matters, why don't you demand it when it's difficult to provide and involves trifling matters, or matters that are none of your business?" The question practically answers itself.

As for medical records, I'd be happy to provide the relevant portions to anyone who I wanted to sleep with.

No, it isn't. It just isn't. Getting stuck paying for someone else's child is pretty damn abnormal.

In the US, it's about as abnormal as having red hair. I wouldn't call redheads "pretty damn abnormal." At this point, you're just sticking your head in the sand.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:12 AM on April 28, 2007


An STD test is checking to see if she got unlucky in past relationships. Asking for a paternity test is essentially accusing your wife of cheating.

If you were in a relationship and ready to begin sexual activity, and they said they got tested recently and knew they didn't have any STDs, would you still demand they get tested? Would you ask for proof? This very question came up in AskMeFi recently. And despite the fact that it might be considered unromantic or untrustworthy, the consensus was someone who reacted poorly to this request was probably a lout.

Yes, the relationship between a couple that may be having a child is likely deeper than that couple ready to just begin STD testing, and thus the implication of mistrust cuts deeper. I wouldn't call a wife who resented her husbands demands to a paternity test a lout, just as a partner who resents being requested to take an STD test four years into a long-term relationship isn't a lout. But the principle of allowing your partner to protect themselves through providing verifiable medical data remains the same. If having a kid of your own genetic material is important to you, then given the sacrifices necessary to raise the child it is perfectly acceptable to verify the child is yours before choosing whether or not to make the sacrifices. This issue may not be important enough to some people to verify it, just as STDs may not be important enough to some people to actually see their partner's test results. But I don't see why we should look denigrate on someone if it is.

As was briefly mentioned in the article, the issue of paternity tests may become moot anyway if both parents and the child are undergoing genetic testing anyway.

I don't hold MPDSEA's inherent skepticism of his sexual partners and their potential proclivity to foisting children on him that aren't his, but I don't begrudge him for it given the stakes.
posted by schroedinger at 12:42 AM on April 28, 2007


So, let me get this straight: You are saying that being lied to regarding whether or not you are the father of a child is normal.

I'm sorry, I just don't see it. At. All. And it's going to take a whole lot more than saying "it's about as abnormal as having red hair" to convince me.
posted by gignomai at 12:46 AM on April 28, 2007


Given that 2-6% of the US population has naturally red hair, and approximately 3-4% of children are estimated to be raised by cuckolded fathers, then yeah, he's got his percentages about right. Depends on whether you think 2-6% is normal.
posted by schroedinger at 12:50 AM on April 28, 2007


You've missed my point on two counts.

I apologize for having misunderstood your point. Scanning too quickly through the comments, I had lumped you in with the several others who took the "you raised it, why would you think anything else matters?" tack.

That said, while I agree that the Albany study says nothing about some sort of innate, genetic component to biological relation, it certainly indicates that men in Albany find that pretty damn important, no matter whether they found that important for genetic or cultural reasons. People trying to paint it as ironclad evolutionary psychology are mistaken, but a point is still there. Biological relation is not simply a bit of trivia - especially when you consider that a child as a result of PD will share the DNA of not the father, but of the man with whom his wife cheated on him. Rough stuff.

Would the father be a fuck for ditching his kids as a result? Yes! But life isn't always perfect, and many times infidelity is part of a larger crisis of trust. Life can't always be like that one episode of Veronica Mars.

Dude, if she is fucking TELLING you it's your child, then she's hardly "keeping it a secret." If you want to go ahead and doubt what your own wife is telling you, sure, get a paternity test, and when you tell her about it you'll rightly lose her trust and possibly get your ass divorced. If you don't tell her about it -- well, who's the duplicitous one now?


Yeah, but what if it ain't? 96-97 percent of the time she's being stone cold honest and the world's a wonderful place, but there's that remaining sliver. Then it is a secret, even if perhaps to herself as well. I'm not on the bandwagon of guys who would be so cavalier with paternity tests - honest! - but I wonder, regarding the duplicity angle...

Earlier this past year, Barack Obama made a campaign stop at a clinic where he underwent an AIDS test. He did it to prove a political point - that no one needs to be embarrassed to take such a test. Obama has been married for years. Do you read his action as indicting his wife as a "stupid, lying bitch"? If someone were to take an STD test without telling his or her significant other, how duplicitous would you regard that? Should that person be ashamed of themselves? Feel bad?

What if an otherwise happily married friend of yours confided in you that she or he had secretly taken an STD test, on a whim or a gut suspicion? What would you tell that person?
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:08 AM on April 28, 2007


Caddis: I am talking about your wife, not some bimbo you banged in a back alley. When you are married and have a kid wives don't have to ask you put out the labor and $ to raise the kids, well, if they do then you are probably going to be a pretty bad dad. We are talking about different things. Now if we are not, and you are married and have no other reason to feel that your wife has cheated on you and you nonetheless demand a paternity test, then you are doomed to a life of failed relationships.

Do you have any idea how preachy and self-righteous this sounds? Let's say you have a perfect marriage. You are to be congratulated. But why ON EARTH would you expect that everyone else has your intelligence and your education and your emotional maturity and can have a marriage JUST LIKE YOU? Why would you think that?

It's like you're trying to leverage this by saying, well, if you married badly, then you don't deserve any sympathy no matter what you do, you're a "bad dad," so too bad for you. It's like you're saying, there are only two classes of women: the ideal wife and the bimbo from the back alley. (Who's misogynist now?) Have you no compassion or empathy for people who aren't clever or insightful enough to marry as wisely as you did? Do you really want to hold the rest of the population -- even hopeful, dopey just-married 21-year-olds -- to your high standard?

I mean, yeah, let's say you ARE doomed to a life of failed relationships. Let's say you're one of those guys who is always marrying the wrong gal. Is this guy shit out of luck? And not only shit out of luck, but also somehow morally at fault for not being able to piece together a marriage as sainted and holy as yours?

also, this, from gignomal: I just think that it is actually better for me (practically, as well as in a "better for my soul" sense) to generally trust people who seem trustworthy enough until I have a good reason to doubt them. I really can't see how that's at all foolish, and frankly I think the rest of you are pretty damn foolish for keeping yourselves from experiencing a real, trusting, and loving relationship with someone just because OMG MUST PROTECT MY INVESTMENT from that lying 3.8%.

Like Caddis you're out there selling the idea of an ideal marriage. But if you think wanting a paternity test is the thing that's keeping a lot of guys from achieving this ideal trusting relationship you're not really seeing the world as it is, which is hard to forgive in someone as smart as you obv are. I mean Jesus. Marriages don't work for thousands of reasons. Not all of us are emotionally mature, have had years of schooling and know ourselves that well. Most people out there do the best they fucking can, and as often as not things don't work out. Not bc they decided to get a paternity test but bc building a strong relationship is actually quite difficult. As someone pointed out, by the time the question of whether to get a paternity test comes up, the marriage is usually on the rocks anyway. And if you have no sympathy for that than you are much less wise and morally accomplished than you think you are.
posted by It ain't over yet at 6:19 AM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jeez, you guys are pathetic. Your relationships are doomed because you lack the ability to trust.
posted by caddis at 9:53 AM on April 28, 2007


I AM BIODAD
posted by nanojath at 10:51 AM on April 28, 2007


Your relationships are doomed because you lack the ability to trust.

Trust, but verify.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:04 AM on April 28, 2007


Caddis, you are definitely fighting the Good Fight, but I am very much afraid it is a rearguard action in this generation.
posted by jamjam at 11:15 AM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jeez, you guys are pathetic. Your relationships are doomed because you lack the ability to trust.

You're totally fighting the Bad Fight. Telling people that they are pathetic is rude. Thinking that things that would doom *your* relationships would doom everyone elses is arrogant and ignorant.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jeez, you guys are pathetic. Your relationships are doomed because you lack the ability to trust.

You're totally fighting the Bad Fight. Telling people that they are pathetic is rude. Thinking that things that would doom *your* relationships would doom everyone elses is arrogant and ignorant.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:34 AM on April 28, 2007


Jeez, you guys are pathetic. Your relationships are doomed because you lack the ability to trust.

Statistically speaking, you have been or will be in a relationship where one of the two of you cheats. This is true of everyone. 50-60% of married men and 45-55% of married will have extra-marital sex at some point in the relationship. This doesn't way heavily on me, but it does seem to indicate that cheating itself is the norm, and not the opposite. And to say that to keep this in consideration will doom all relationships is Pollyanna-ism. Your partner will sometimes have doubts, and when they are reasonable or are important matters, sometimes it's better to indulge them and allow them to verify then to historically declare the relationship over.
posted by Snyder at 12:50 PM on April 28, 2007


From stitcherbeast:

Do you read his action as indicting his wife as a "stupid, lying bitch"?

Nope, and you said why yourself: He did it to prove a political point. In fact, if he had any doubts whatsoever about the results of the test, he NEVER would have done such a thing, because it could have bombed his political career.

If someone were to take an STD test without telling his or her significant other, how duplicitous would you regard that? Should that person be ashamed of themselves? Feel bad?

Absolutely not, because as someone mentioned above, STDs are things that stick around from past relationships, which makes the whole issue way more complex. Should one trust their (apparently trustworthy) wife or girlfriend to tell them whether or not they're the father of their child? IMHO, yes. Should one trust the girlfriend's ex-boyfriend's one-night-stand's ill-advised-hookup to relate the fact that they have gonorrhea accurately along that whole line? Hells no. The same goes for any of your own past adventures, and so STD testing is a great idea most of the time. It would only be a little weird or insulting if, say, my SO got themselves tested and/or insisted on me getting tested after we had already established that we didn't have anything, and had decided to be monogamous. In that situation, before even being insulted that they think I'm cheating, I'd think that almost certainly they must be cheating -- because who suddenly wants such a test after things have been established, except one who knows first-hand that things aren't as "established" as you think they are?

What if an otherwise happily married friend of yours confided in you that she or he had secretly taken an STD test, on a whim or a gut suspicion? What would you tell that person?

I'd start wondering where this whim or gut suspicion came from -- is their partner actually cheating, and what could be going on in an otherwise happy marriage that would make them think so? Are they themselves secretly cheating, and doing this to make sure that they didn't catch anything, and won't pass anything on to their unsuspecting spouse?



From It ain't over yet:

Like Caddis you're out there selling the idea of an ideal marriage.

If "selling" = "encouraging," sure. If by "selling" you mean "convinced that things are all peachy keen everywhere," then definitely no. I just don't think this desire for a paternity test can or should occur within a happy, trusting marriage, and that if the desire for a paternity test is coming merely from a distrust of women, or some general wigging out about (envying?) how women "know for sure" because they actually give birth, or any other way to psych yourself out about this stuff, then you are the one bringing the instability into your otherwise happy relationship. I can't believe that anyone would disagree with me that destabilizing an otherwise happy relationship is a bad thing that one should try to avoid and (if you've got time) encourage others to avoid as well. I feel like people have somehow been arguing against the following statement: If you're asking for a paternity test, it denotes that there are problems in the relationship. Furthermore, if there truly weren't any problems before your asking, then there are now problems (specifically, your insecurity that inspired the asking). Yay or nay?

As someone pointed out, by the time the question of whether to get a paternity test comes up, the marriage is usually on the rocks anyway. And if you have no sympathy for that than you are much less wise and morally accomplished than you think you are.

I totally agree -- and in those situations where paternity really is a question, go ahead, have at it. In fact, I highly encourage it. I've just been uncomfortable this whole time with the idea that one should ask for a paternity test no matter what the circumstances, and especially that one should view being tricked into raising a child that is not biologically your own as somehow "normal."
posted by gignomai at 2:23 PM on April 28, 2007


Oh, and one more note on the following:

If someone were to take an STD test without telling his or her significant other

You do realize that that won't tell you at all whether your S.O. has anything, right? It'll just tell you if you've caught anything yet. You could have been with someone with HIV for a good while without catching it, gotten the test, and then caught it the day you get back. If you really want to know what risks you are at (as opposed to the risks you're putting someone else at), you have to see their test results.
posted by gignomai at 2:27 PM on April 28, 2007


Or, a much shorter version:

I asked a friend of mine if, when he and his fiancee have kids, he'd want to get a paternity test to make sure they were his, he said "No man, that's some Maury Povich shit." Heh.
posted by gignomai at 2:41 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do you read his action as indicting his wife as a "stupid, lying bitch"?

Nope, and you said why yourself: He did it to prove a political point. In fact, if he had any doubts whatsoever about the results of the test, he NEVER would have done such a thing, because it could have bombed his political career.


But *his* point was that nobody should feel ashamed to take such a test - not even people who have been happily married for years. And he'd been married for longer than it would have taken for any STDs to suddenly arise since his marriage. This is not the same as if he'd been in a monogamous relationship for six months and then gotten the test.

Do you think that his point was wrong?

In that situation, before even being insulted that they think I'm cheating, I'd think that almost certainly they must be cheating -- because who suddenly wants such a test after things have been established, except one who knows first-hand that things aren't as "established" as you think they are?

Are those "10 Signs Your Man Is Cheating On You" quizzes in Cosmo geared towards women who are cheating, then? After all, who'd need that sort of rubric unless things were already falling apart?

I'm familiar with the maxim that "untrusting people can't be trusted," and I even usually agree with it, but reality isn't so clean cut all the time.

You do realize that that won't tell you at all whether your S.O. has anything, right?

Yes, I do in fact know. I was just fishing for an example of a medical test that would show infidelity, but was not a paternity test. To the end that tests could display evidence of infidelity, please pretend for the sake of this argument that STDs are instantly communicable.

I totally agree -- and in those situations where paternity really is a question, go ahead, have at it. In fact, I highly encourage it. I've just been uncomfortable this whole time with the idea that one should ask for a paternity test no matter what the circumstances, and especially that one should view being tricked into raising a child that is not biologically your own as somehow "normal."


I agree with you here. It's just that I don't think men who are interested in having a paternity test done need to feel like villains or to be automatically accused of cheating themselves. Every situation is different, and you don't know what Joe Schmo who wants a paternity test is going through.

For about 1 in 25 families, that paternity test would have actually shown something, and it's not a random distribution. Just because you and your friends don't have relationships where this seems like a relevant problem, it doesn't mean it's the same for everyone else. Some people are in relationships with serious issues, and to them it isn't just Maury Povich shit.

(Another funny aspect of this issue is the uniform terribleness of just about every metaphor used to describe it, especially when you try to make it gender neutral. On behalf of all wielders of metaphor, I apologize.)
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:16 PM on April 28, 2007


See, it's stuff like this that leads me to tell everyone -- everyone -- that it's important to set up trust mechanisms before you get married.

Get a pre-nup, whether it's indexed to income or current assets or whatever: you don't want to be in a position where one person feels trapped because they're the homemaker instead of the breadwinner.

Agree years beforehand to paternity tests: who knows if the kids could get switched at birth? Maybe you want the DNA on record to check for inheritable diseases. Who cares? Just do it.

Too many people see these things as demonstrating a lack of trust (e.g. a pre-nup is "planning for divorce"), when in actuality they're just the opposite; cutting the threads that bind you means that you can have faith that the thing your relationship actually rests on is your feelings towards one another. I think that's a nice thought.
posted by spiderwire at 3:32 PM on April 28, 2007


It's just that I don't think men who are interested in having a paternity test done need to feel like villains or to be automatically accused of cheating themselves. Every situation is different, and you don't know what Joe Schmo who wants a paternity test is going through.


You're totally right about this, and I'm sorry if I've made it sound like every guy who wants a paternity test should be ashamed of himself. I've just been kind of appalled at a few of the attitudes that have shown up in this thread, this notion that distrusting your own family is somehow merely sensible and normal and should be the default, and especially the "use Science! to protect yourself against them lying wimmins" stuff.


Agree years beforehand to paternity tests... cutting the threads that bind you means that you can have faith that the thing your relationship actually rests on is your feelings towards one another.

Actually, that makes a whole lot of sense to me, and it's definitely a nice thought.
posted by gignomai at 3:46 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


but how much does it really matter for your relationship to this kid that it be in all senses *technically* yours in addition to emotionally?

This was a sentiment expressed several times early on in the thread, to which I'm surprised no one really responded. I don't have kids yet, but if/when I make the decision to, it's absolutely important to me that they would be mine, genetically. I don't want kids just to have babies around, or feel the self-satisfaction of fatherhood, or whatever else--I also want to pass my genetic material on to another generation, mixing it with the genetic material of a woman I love so much that I want to make a new person with her.

That's what's one of the most harrowing things about this whole issue, I think: the tremendous conflict one must feel finding out that this child in whom you've invested so much isn't really from you, when you thought he/she was. While it would take a cold man to walk away because the child wasn't biologically his, and it shouldn't change the present relationship one has with the child, I certainly understand the profound sense of betrayal and disappointment this must bring.

When I have a child, I do, in fact, want it to be my child. How that desire has been trivialized by some commenters upthread baffles me.
posted by LooseFilter at 5:02 PM on April 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


It occurs to me that, as a female, I DO have an interest in knowing that my husband not be cheating and bringing STDs into my life, just as many men here have expressed that they have an interest in knowing that their child is, indeed, their own.

I have a choice of either trusting my husband to keep his vows, or using a tactic that is similar to paternity-testing one's supposed offspring -- and that is asking my husband to get a STD test. Every month. I mean, you can't be too careful in protecting your own interests, can you?

Yes, you can. If you had to take an STD test every month to prove your fidelity, you'd find it quickly toxic to your relationship, wouldn't you? Even if you hadn't been cheating?

I think this is the point Caddis was trying to make.
posted by lleachie at 8:51 PM on April 28, 2007


No I think you should avoid doing that and just take his word that those panties you found in the car must have been tossed in by some kids wandering by. Have to have trust, after all.
posted by IronLizard at 12:34 AM on April 29, 2007


If you had to take an STD test every month to prove your fidelity, you'd find it quickly toxic to your relationship, wouldn't you?

At the risk of being called pathetic and told that all my future relationships are doomed, the answer to your questions is "no". I don't know why the trust-police can't trust that there are people who see things differently than they do.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:26 AM on April 29, 2007


IronLizard, come on. I'm sure you're "just kidding" or whatever, but if you'd actually bothered to read the comments all the way through, you'd know that both me and even caddis have been saying "trust unless there's a good reason otherwise" this whole time. I think everyone would agree that something like that constitutes a good reason.
posted by gignomai at 12:38 PM on April 29, 2007


Oh no, no problem gig. That comment was referring to the one just above it and nothing else. I don't seriously think EVERYONE should get a paternity test and I never said so. Remember the (other) golden rule: Your Mileage May Vary. Everyone has different circumstances, it's stupid to pretend otherwise. I'm just harping on 'one size fits all' comments.
My only beef is with laws that essentially punish victims of such atrocious lies and perpetuate this vile practice. I honestly think mandatory tests would be a serious violation of privacy, but having the option discreetly given at the hospital would be a great thing for dads who, for whatever reason, are unsure.
posted by IronLizard at 1:26 PM on April 29, 2007


And just to make this clear, I think LooseFilter sums up my feelings on the matter succinctly. I would never just 'ditch' one of my kids because something like this turned out to be the case, but I would sure as hell like to know and, later on, I'm sure they would too. Other cultures can do what they like, more power to them, yadda yadda....
posted by IronLizard at 1:31 PM on April 29, 2007


Right, right. I'm actually kind of amazed at some of the legal issues as well -- is it actually true that, say, a guy who took off when a kid was born who was ordered to pay child support will still have to pay child support even if it's found that the kid isn't his? Some of the comments upthread seem to be suggesting it, and that seems pretty outrageous to me.
posted by gignomai at 2:40 PM on April 29, 2007


No, it's true here in Texas. In fact, regardless of the parentage any man who is married to a woman when she gives birth, becomes the default father even if paternity tests disagree. All this supposedly 'in the best interests of the child'. It's just beyond the pale and yet it happens all the time. How do I know about it? My lawyer explained it during my divorce years ago. Thankfully, I didn't have to worry about anything like that but just the possibility is pretty fearsome in a prolonged divorce when both parties have moved on to other relationships already.
posted by IronLizard at 5:44 PM on April 29, 2007


Oh, and I suppose it keeps the AFDC budget down. They have someone to go after for the money given to low income mothers who apply for aid.
posted by IronLizard at 5:47 PM on April 29, 2007


Bricolage.
posted by Doohickie at 9:24 PM on April 29, 2007


Well, this has been an interesting discussion.

Maybe I missed it, but nobody has pointed out the sea that this discussion is swimming in: the simple-minded, premodern idea of "Traditional Marriage".

"Tradtionally", when a couple gets married, that was a public acknowledgment that every single baby that couple gave birth to was fathered by the husband. Even if the husband had been at sea for the year prior to birth. Even if the baby bore not the slightest resemblence to the father: he had already acknowledged his paternity of any children his wife bore, by the simple fact of being married to the mother.

That's what "traditional marriage" means: the putative father IS the father. This is the way paternity was assigned for centuries, because this was the best system people could come up with. Thus, all the paranoia we see down the centuries about 'fidelity' and 'cheating'.

"Traditional marriage", it's time for you to meet the 21st century. A polite legal fiction is now meeting scientific reality - - and people are going to have to adjust to the new reality.

Thus, the alleged 'misogyny' of the article: because, the way the law is written now, a cuckolded husband really IS screwed: the children his wife bears him ARE his responsibility. That's what 'marriage' means.

And conservatives wonder why "traditional marriage" is in decline. With each passing year, the institution is an increasingly bad fit for the world that we find ourselves living in. That's why the institution of "traditional marriage" has been evolving toward something more like a "civil partnership of equals".

(Department of Full Disclosure: yes, I'm in a 'traditional marriage'; yes, my wife and I have three children together; and yes, I believe I'm the father.)
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 10:08 PM on April 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


We have a real problem with misogynism in our society, our legal system, and our religo-philosophical systems in this country… but saying that lying cheating women are bad is not misogynistic. Saying that 3% of women are lying and cheating is not misogynistic. If we keep throwing the word misogenism around without using it correctly, we will miss it happening right in front of us. Misogenism is not hating women who do immoral and despicable things, it’s hating women because they are women.
posted by ewkpates at 11:08 AM on April 30, 2007


The kid has a father. HE'S THE GUY WHO FUCKED MOM.

Surely the husband "fucked mom" too, or else he would have no reason to think he was the father. Unless he was fantastically stupid. And a Men's Health reader. But I repeat myself.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:27 PM on April 30, 2007


God, what a mountain of paranoiac hysteria.

But, as a note to the gentleman upthread who said a vasectomy could prevent pregnancy— not necessarily. I had a teacher in high school, Mr. Stringer, who had kids in my grade (well, from five years older than me to ten years younger, if I recall the brood, but I was passing friends with the one in my grade). He had two kids the usual way, then got a vasectomy. Still managed to knock his wife up again. After she got pregnant a fourth time, she had her tubes tied (the speculation was that he either lied about the vasectomy or it never took). He then divorced her and married a much younger woman, and managed to knock out a couple more kids.
His eldest managed to defeat a condom and the pill, leading to recurrent jokes about the strength of Stringer Sperm, which knocked up women just by riding on the same bus.
Oh, and all of the kids were fucking identical.
posted by klangklangston at 3:36 PM on April 30, 2007


Surely the husband "fucked mom" too, or else he would have no reason to think he was the father.

Right, I forget. If I don't flesh out my, completely obvious, point in excruciating and intricate detail someone will purposely misunderstand it. Or go off on a tangent of it. Or something.
posted by IronLizard at 12:29 AM on May 1, 2007


I have learned several things on this thread.

People are afraid to be cheated on.

People are afraid that the life they are living is a lie.

People are afraid that stories about unfaithful members of their sex perpetuate bad stereotypes.

People don't think straight when they are angry or scared.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:30 PM on May 1, 2007


I don't know, that whole "women aren't the only villians" thing (as well as a handful of other terribly written sentences from this article) doesn't really seem to fall into the mere "stories about unfaithful members" category.
posted by gignomai at 9:57 PM on May 1, 2007




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