To go along with the theme of a recent post by Intern Extraordinaire Sarah Wilson, Kanye West's tweet from a few weeks ago reminds us yet again that a pregnancy does not solidify a relationship and/or act as a promise for happily-ever-after. Kanye tweets that guys should "strapup" since women get pregnant on purpose to trap the father and get his money through child support (he sums this up with the term "gold-digger"). He also claims that abortions can cost up to "50gs maybe a 100" (in fact the cost of an abortion at a health center tends to range from $350-$950 during the first trimester, though BET blogger Dior Noir has a possible explanation for the figure Kanye tweeted). Kanye's estimate more closely resembles the cost of having and raising a child, though actually falls way short of the average cost as of 2010.
While in one light I can appreciate Kanye's twisted attempt at a PSA for condom use, I have many issues with the reasons that urged him to share this message. Putting aside the question of whether the stereotype of the woman using pregnancy to trick her partner into a commitment (and several studies, including one by The National Campaign, have dealt serious blows to that stereotype of late), I'm always curious about how the guy ends up the victim in these tales and the girl as the gold-digging manipulator.
Unless human beings have rapidly evolved to asexuality without my knowledge, last time I checked it takes two to have sex and get pregnant. A girl can lie about being on the pill, sure, but if the guy involved is not ready to be a father and make the emotional and financial commitment towards supporting a child, he should be taking his own precautions. Not to mention, if there is a possibility that a girl is lying about using contraception or a guy is refusing to wear a condom, what it comes down to is a lack of trust and communication so significant that the hypothetical couple probably shouldn't be having sex in the first place. Additionally, I think it is entirely unfair to place blame on a girl for getting pregnant when condoms are cheaper and easier to obtain than many other forms of contraception. How can a guy claim a girl got pregnant on purpose and call her a gold-digger when he was unwilling to spend 50 cents on a condom in the first place? (Side note: most health centers also give out condoms for free).
While admittedly there are cases of women dating athletes, actors, musicians, or someone else in the realm of the wealthy who could possibly benefit financially from getting pregnant, they are the anomaly. The costs of bearing and raising a child are significantly underestimated--if considered at all--by many soon-to-be parents, particularly those who've experienced an unplanned pregnancy. Even if a woman is fortunate enough to receive financial assistance from the father of her child, it can still be extremely difficult to make ends meet, especially depending what point of life the parents are in (age, education, etc).
For instance, we all saw how Maci on MTV's Teen Mom took her ex-boyfriend Ryan to court to get child support for their son Bentley. While she was successful, the court ordered Ryan to provide only $80 per week to help Maci raise their son while she was also working her way through community college. With the cost of daycare, diapers, and basic necessities for child-raising these days, could you really call Maci a gold-digger for hoping for the least bit of assistance from her son's dad? And if Ryan had known that at 21 years old, with no college degree or steady job, he would be court-ordered to contribute roughly $4480 a year towards raising his son, would he maybe have made some different choices?
On that note, a group of researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine recently decided to investigate men's opinions about contraception and find out what motivates them to use it or not. The study, which interviewed a group of 20 low-income, inner-city men, revealed that "the idea of financial responsibility influenced participants' views of their role in contraception use, pregnancy planning and decision-making on whether to continue a pregnancy." The majority of the men interviewed saw their first pregnancy as a transformative experience and were excited to assume the financial responsibilities of being a father; however, after their first child was born they realized that they had greatly underestimated the costs of raising a child and as a result decided to change their reproductive behavior to avoid future pregnancies.
So, in conclusion, maybe Kanye has a point by mentioning the financial costs of getting a girl pregnant in order to get guys attention about safe sex (we'll ignore the fact that his tweet is over-exaggerated, crass, and derogatory for the time being). What he failed to mention though is the shared responsibility guys have in the consequences of unprotected sex, which in my opinion is one of the most promising things about this study. It shows that these men wanted to be able to financially provide for their kids and, once they understood the costs of doing so, they were more likely take precautions in the future to avoid another pregnancy so that they could provide for their current child/children as best they could. The results of this study present a way for clinicians, health care providers, and educators to engage men in the conversation of practicing safe sex by emphasizing the financial responsibility it takes to be a father, whether it's court ordered or not.