Do I have a 13 year-old son? Responding to some questions

I can’t recall a post or an article I’ve written that’s caused more consternation — and such wildly divergent reactions– than my column yesterday at the Good Men Project: I May Have a Son, But I’ll Never Know for Sure. Both at GMP and at Jezebel, where the piece was reprinted, there’s been an outpouring of criticism (and a fair amount of praise) for the decisions a woman I’m calling “Jill” and I made 14 years ago.

A sample of the emails I’ve gotten:

You are a horrible human being and should face the consequences of
your actions. You and Jill conned another human being into a fake
life, giving his love to a child which is not his. Who are you to
determine what fatherhood is for Ted and what is it relation to
genetics.

I have a beautiful son and if he was not mine my world would end. And
yes, I would no longer love him if he didn’t have my genes. My genes
makes him my son before all the environmental influences. This is my
love it is my choice who to give it to.
— “Amir.”

On the other hand:

This may be my favorite thing you’ve ever written. I had respect for you before, of course, but it’s been doubled. You and Jill made the right decision. I hope you never have a moment of doubt about it, and I hope that Jill doesn’t either. Love to you and your family, and love to that family in the Midwest which is stronger because of what you didn’t do.
— “Naomi.”

And of course, lots of comments fall in between these two extremes. (In general, the most virulent and hateful comments and emails have come from men, but plenty of women have taken issue with what I did — and, especially, what Jill chose to do.)

A few clarifications below the fold, based on questions that have come up in emails and comments on the two versions of the column.

1. Why did Jill tell you about Ted — but not Ted about you?

Jill and I had been friends for over a year, before we started a brief sexual relationship. She knew me well (one of the reasons she knew damn well I wasn’t husband or father material at that point in my slipping-down life). She had only recently met Ted (I’m not sure how, but I think they were set up by some of Jill’s work friends). Ted and Jill went immediately into a romantic and sexual relationship, and they didn’t have the history of friendship she and I enjoyed.

2. If you haven’t seen a picture of Alastair, how do you know what he looks like?

I love fact-checkers! Seriously, I could tell he was blonde and blue-eyed when I first held him. (I was blonde until I was into my teens). And in the last email I had from Jill (more than a year ago) she told me he was tall for his age. Jill and I aren’t friends on Facebook, by the way.

3. Don’t you think Alastair deserves to know his genetic history?

This whole situation would be much simpler if we knew I was Alastair’s father. But right from the start, Jill was uncertain. Obstetricians can date the time of conception to within a week – but not, I’m told, to within a time frame of less than 48 hours. (At least not with certainty. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.) A paternity test would be needed, and Jill didn’t want one because she had made the gut decision that Ted was the father. Perhaps that was hope, perhaps that was intuition, perhaps that was practicality. Perhaps it was all three.

There’s at most a 50% chance that I’m Alastair’s father. If it was a 100% chance, that would make everything different. But there is a 100% chance that coming into their lives now would be disruptive (to put it mildly.) I’m keeping my promise — but if Jill ever contacts me and wants my medical history, she’ll have it in a heartbeat.

4. Do you think it’s possible that Jill has already told Ted everything, that Alastair has been tested, and they already know the answer?

It is possible. That wasn’t the case as of our last communication on the subject, but it may well be. It’s a happy thought, frankly.

5. What about the possibility that Heloise will read this someday and start asking questions about her possible big brother? What about if Alastair or Ted somehow get wind of this?

The former is a very real possibility, and I’m quite prepared to have a serious discussion with my daughter when it comes up. Look, Daddy also had three ex-wives before Mommy, too. She’ll come to grips in her own way with the reality that before he got sober in 1998, her father led a very, very reckless life in a great many ways. As for Alastair or Ted, I’ve disguised more than the names — the dates aren’t quite right, deliberately so (though they’re accurate to within less than a year.) I’m confident I’ve honored the letter and the spirit of the agreement I made with Jill so long ago.

6. Would you do the same thing if you were in the same position now?

That’s a moot point. At this stage in my life, I’m more likely to be a “Ted” than the Hugo who was. When I was sleeping with Jill without protection, I was also slutting around with lots of other people, using drugs, regularly self-injuring and headed rapidly towards a suicide attempt. I was a different man. That doesn’t mean I can’t be called to account for what I did before July 1, 1998 (my sobriety date), but it does mean that the decisions I made before that time were made with an entirely different moral calculus.

And I’ll say it again: Heloise is my daughter and I am her father. That’s a relational statement, not a biological one. And if I were to discover that she and I did not share genetic material, that wouldn’t change a thing. As far as I’m concerned, a man for whom it would make a significant difference doesn’t deserve the title “father.”

I loved Heloise when she was still in the womb. Ted loved Alastair before he was born. Sperm doesn’t make love.

0 thoughts on “Do I have a 13 year-old son? Responding to some questions

  1. Hugo-

    I don’t understand why you can’t ask Jill to do a paternity test? Alastair doesn’t have to know about it unless the results are that you are the father.

    I think you are lying to yourself. You would have to be an imbecile – even if you were drunk or whatever – not to know that unprotected sex would create a child. You chose on some level to take the risk of creating a child, a biological child. Whether you were willing to be an actual dad to the child is not material to the intention you had to create the biological child. Pretending that intention didn’t exist on some level, and especially pretending it doesn’t matter to a child who his bio parents are (even if he loves and is well cared for by his adoptive parent(s)), is something I find outrageous.

    I am really baffled at how someone who has studied patriarchy could not see the logical flaw and hypocrisy in this. One of the problems with patriarchy is that it creates an “assumed hypocrisy,” where the connection between father and child (both biological and in the sense of parenting behavior) is made meaningless; but, of course, it is not meaningless and so it creates this hypocrisy where men pretend their relationship with their child (both bio and parenting) doesn’t exist.

    Some people (myself included) think the entire structure of male monotheism in Christianity, Islam, etc. is an attempt to cope with this deficit, assumed hypocrisy, and invisibleness of the genetic and personal connections between father and child.

    I think you owe it to this child to clear up the facts. Get the test (without the child’s knowledge). If you are the father, find out what Ted wants to do, and if he wants to adopt, clearly sever the rights.

    Don’t leave all the responsibility with the mother – or us as a society – to deal with your mess. That is as anti-feminist a position as I can imagine.

  2. And still not one word about how you feel about inflicting this massive fraud upon an innocent man.

    Just because you would be okay with frauding you, doesn’t mean you have the right to trick other people.

  3. Hugo,

    I’m sorry you have taken so much flak over this.

    I was wondering, however, if you could comment on Jill’s decision not to tell Ted about the possibility he is not the biological father.

    Like many commenters over at GMP, this is truly the only part of the story that did not sit well with me. I have two primary concerns:

    1) While their relationship has clearly worked out, is an “ends justify the means” argument truly acceptable for manipulating someone so fundamentally? The timeline seems to suggest that the marriage came from the pregnancy (the marriage seemed to be within 2 months of Jill finding out she was pregnant), which likewise suggests that if the pregnancy was in question, the marriage also would have been. While it is totally understandable for Jill to WANT Ted to be the father, how can Ted truly make a commitment like marriage when he is denied all the facts?

    2) This probably did not occur to Jill at the time, but, under the current legal system in the US, if Jill and Ted divorced, and paternity was in question, Ted could lose any right to see the children that, by your definition, he is a father to. He would lose this right through no fault of his own, but because Jill had not been truthful with him prior to their marriage. Is it fair of Jill to potentially thrust Ted into this situation without his knowledge?

    I have not looked at the Jezebel comments, but the most contentious GMP comments seemed to rage back and forth only over Jill’s decision. Is there any way you could comment on that?

  4. I can’t imagine what I’d do if I were in this situation. Should I envy those commenters who are not only certain about what they would do, but are also confident of what you should have done?

  5. Hey, Ted could actually be the father and everybody is getting worked up for nothing. Ted was there and took responsibility for the pregnancy. This brings up a point I hadn’t thought of before now but I think it’s a fair one.

    If your woman gets pregnant, I think a potential other parent has a right to ask for a paternity test. But if you don’t and you accept the responsibility as is, that’s your bed to lie in. Ted gets to keep Jill which obviously didn’t seem like a bad deal to Ted.

    I think Hugo did it right. Jill made the best decision for her, Ted made the decision he wanted to make and he might be objectively correct. Hugo should have used protection but so should have Ted. Either man could potentially be paying child support and the one supporting the kid volunteered. Win-win.

    Way to go.

  6. Re: Hugo should have used protection but so should have Ted.

    Yeah, the difference is that one man actually had the moral integrity to step up and take responsibility for the situation, whereas the other man was content to run away like a middle schooler and let someone else clean up his mess. I can’t believe you’re trying to draw a moral equivalency here. Of cource, it’s not unusual for card-carrying California cultural liberals to excuse the bad behaviour of other California cultural liberals.

  7. I agree that biology does not necessarily a parent make and that Ted, not Hugo, is effectively this child’s father even though there is the possibility that they do not share genetic material. I’m married to a man who was raised by his stepfather and I know that his stepfather has had far greater influence on his formation and values and even mannerisms, than his biological father ever had, so depsite the prominence of genetics (nature) in our formation, nurture is not to be dismissed.

    I have no issues with that basic point of the article.

    Before scientific paternity tests came to be, men just had to assume that their children were their children (of course if they denied it they were believed and the mother was in a complete bind)so the whole idea of years of history being held together solely by the thin bond of genetics is rather new.

    It is the deception issue that leaves me with an icky feeling, nothing else. I do not think it’s really Hugo’s place to address this issue as he left this decision up to Jill 13 years ago and was certainly in no position then (or now really) to be a good father to this particular child. For him to wander into this family and declare the truth, do a test and then not be there to parent this child anyway, is not helpful to anyone.

    But I do find Jill’s decision questionable. I hope I wouldn’t have made it (of course I also don’t do the multiple partners or unprotected sex thing in part for this reason).

    I would want to know if the person I was having unprotected sex with was having sex (protected or otherwise) with someone else at about the same time… for health reasons if nothing else.

    And I do think she should have come clean with Ted right from the start since the act of sleeping with Hugo the same week she met Ted does not strike me as a betrayal of their relationship as they were not in a relationship yet but it does complicate the pregnancy issue.

    Also, simply because I agree with Hugo that being a dad is not just a matter of sperm donation (any more than being a mother is just a matter of egg donation), doesn’t mean that Ted agrees with us. It would be a betrayal if Ted married Jill only because of the baby that he believed was unquestionably his.

    The fact that it all seems to have worked out for the best and there are more kids in the family doesn’t make the deception okay, however it does make untangling the threads and making the right choice that much more complicated – particularly as there more children in the picture now who could be affected by this whole experience.

    The ideal outcome is that Jill works up the courage to tell Ted and Ted indicates that it doesn’t really matterto him. Then when Alastair is an adult and past teenagery hormones, they tell him this possibility and he decides if he wants to know. He may not care if Ted doesn’t.

    But these are all factors we, and Hugo, do not know about these people. And the best thing for Hugo to do is be open and willing to cooperate with whatever Jill and Ted and Alastair do in the future. By being open about it with his wife and family, he demonstrates that he is.

    And this is one of the best arguments for contraception and thinking about sex before you do it that I’ve heard in a while.

  8. Hugo: I don’t think you did anything wrong. Quite the contrary, I think it’s noble you promised Jill your silence. It was not your place to go running to Ted.

    However, I don’t understand how you (or anyone else) can support what Jill did to Ted. She lied to him (or at best omitted the truth), about something that could’ve drastically changed the course of his life. Again, maybe Ted would’ve stayed had he been told. Or maybe he asks for a paternity test and leaves if the boy wasn’t his. But that is all moot because he was never told what was happening.

    That’s what people are upset about. That Jill not only lied and manipulated the situation to her advantage, but that many people are actually praising her for it. It’s disgusting, really.

    Ted deserved to know the truth and to not have the foundation of his marriage and family based on a lie. That’s not opinion, it’s fact.

  9. Hugo,

    “Sperm doesn’t make love.”

    no. But realizing one has been lied to for a lifetime may do that. Of course, not lying in the beginning may also have killed the love.

    One thing, aren’t you afraid of Google in this case? Wouldn’t someone who possibly remmebers you in the 1990s be able to connect the dots of the story? I mean, *your* name has not been changed in the story, has it? I’m wondering if publishing something like this story isn’t another awfully big risk to take in this day and age, sort of the ex-post equivalent of unprotected sex…

  10. I know many people judge Jill’s decision. Do I think she should have told Ted at the beginning? Sure. But that wasn’t my decision to make and I was in no position to judge.

    Jill was never unfaithful with me. By the time she and Ted were seriously committed, she’d broken things off with me and we were never sexual with each other again after that point. She didn’t handle everything perfectly, but I don’t know that any of us do. I’m certainly only in a position to judge my own actions, not hers.

    And yes, it’s a great reminder about the importance of using contraception every time.

  11. Not really much to add, except some variation on “Love to you, Hugo”

    You might be a socialist git, but you have style. And principle.

    (Kiwi) John

  12. I’m starting to suspect that you will never judge a woman for any decision that she makes, ever.

    You witnessed a woman abusing her husband. Nonviolently, perhaps, but abuse nonetheless. And you thought that was “her decision to make”. You hid a huge lie, you tricked Ted into two decade (at least) long commitment he probably wouldn’t have made if he had been informed. And now, you won’t even offer him a glass of sympathy, not even a “that was horrible thing for me to do, but I had to it”.

  13. Hugo – have you talked to any professionals or people with relevant knowledge about this? Social workers, child psychologists, lawyers, adults who were children in this type of situation? I am wondering if you may have some potential legal liability here and/or there may be an interest the state (or even Alastair later on if it becomes exposed that you are the father) ends up taking that someone needs to stand up for the child’s interest in clarity around who is his bio parent and what the relationship is with Ted if you are the bio parent (would Ted adopt? or would something else happen?). If in fact, if you are his bio parent, you may face liability for not standing up for that interest, at least by asking Jill to do a paternity test – that Alastair need not even know about unless you turn out to be the father? (I am just guessing at these things, by the way, and you would need to talk to a lawyer who knows these issues; in particular, I don’t know the law in California.) Aside from the legal issues; a child development expert or someone who has been in Alastair’s shoes may help clarify whether you see a personal or moral obligation here? I don’t think this is really something you can defer 100% to the bio mother on or take the position that you don’t have to do anything if you were unfit psychologically to be a father at the time. From the legal standpoint, the definition of mental illness that absolves someone of responsibility (particularly if they later attain mental health and don’t take responsibility?) is pretty hard to meet, I think.

  14. From Jezebel:

    “If I were to discover that I was not my daughter’s biological dad, I’d be hurt by my wife’s deception -– but Heloise would be no less my daughter. (I have no reason to suspect otherwise, of course.)

    Yeah, neither does Ted.

    Ouch.

    She’s a vile liar and you’re complicit in her deception, dude. You both took the easy, selfish way out of the situation.

  15. Other story elements aside, I can’t believe someone would say they could stop loving a child that they found out wasn’t theirs. What a sad version of love they practice.

  16. twg says:

    “Other story elements aside, I can’t believe someone would say they could stop loving a child that they found out wasn’t theirs. What a sad version of love they practice.”

    I would hope that Ted would not punish Alastair for this as well, but I wouldn’t blame him if he lost interest in parenting and financially supporting the child.

    If Hugo is the bio-father and I were Ted, I might join with Alastair (or some uninvolved person representing Alastair) in suing Hugo and Jill for fraud and Hugo for child support. That doesn’t fix things, but it does at least compensate Ted for what he’s had to carry financially on Hugo’s behalf.

  17. “She’s a vile liar and you’re complicit in her deception, dude. You both took the easy, selfish way out of the situation.”

    Spot on.

  18. Nothing anyone could say would make me stop loving my kids. Unless they turn out to be Cylons. I mean, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere, amiright?

  19. @JMO: I’m not so sure I agree with this. I would say it’s a more patriarchal view to think that a man should have a “right” to a child based on genetics. The rights of a father are earned, not genetically determined. (Same for motherhood, I would opine. Although nine months of pregnancy does comprise somewhat more of an initial investment.)

    I do think that any good feminist man should do all he can to volunteer care and support for a child that he has genetically fathered. However, Hugo at the time was not a good feminist, or even a good man. He was an alcoholic, self-destructive drug-user, as his many Mea Culpas attest. Since then Hugo’s situation has turned around, and he is now in a position where he might contribute to the upbringing of the child — but emphatically not against the mother’s wishes. He has not earned the right to participate in that child’s upbringing.

  20. JMO, a man can be held legally liable for his biological children regardless of when he learns about the child, however, it depends on the laws in a given state and how paternity is determined. In California I believe the limit for a man to contest the paternity of a child is two years, so any time after that the man’s whose name is on the certificate is legally the father. If this boy is not Ted’s, there is nothing Hugo could do even with DNA proof.

  21. I’m surprised Hugo’s getting flak here. His only real options are to do nothing, or disrupt a successful family in a way that’s highly likely to be harmful to everyone involved. Ted assumed the risks (not that he probably had much of a choice), and Alastair is pretty clearly innocent. Jill’s action may be unethical, but Hugo can only make it worse, not better.

    I realise Ted probably can’t avoid assuming those risks; demanding a paternity test is a pretty dumb idea unless you’re confident you don’t want a relationship with the mother. It’s a bad risk – the field rate of false paternity is less than ten percent, and even if you suspect the kid might not be yours, it turns out to be yours roughly two times in three (I understand that’s what testing places get). Bad risk.

    And the suggestion that Hugo should do something now is dumber than a sack of hair. Not go along with Jill at the time? Maybe – but now? The kid is Jill’s and Ted’s, and screwing that up would accomplish nothing but pain for all involved.

  22. “If this boy is not Ted’s, there is nothing Hugo could do even with DNA proof.”

    There’s nothing stopping him from sending a child support check.

  23. To me, the issue’s fairly simple (not of course that it’s any of my business). What’s in the best interest of the kid?

    Taking adult egos and issues out of it, Alistair clearly has a Dad, and Brian’s exactly right.

    That said, it’s Hugo who has to live his life, and choices. It’s distasteful to coulda shoulda woulda someone else’s private pain, even when they make it public.

  24. Sorry, to avoid confusion, I’m Kiwi John, not the other one posting earlier on this thread.

  25. I suspect it’s true that legally Hugo may not be able to rebut the presumption of paternity at this point, but Ted possibly and CERTAINLY Alastair can.

    Hugo probably can’t get paternal rights even if the presumption is rebutted by Alastair (or Alastair’s adult representative in the matter), but Hugo may still face obligations of child support and need to make other compensation for fraud. Jill may face fraud compensation issues as well.

    I would be surprised if the state doesn’t have the right to step in here on behalf of Alastair to get this cleared up. But I don’t like this solution because it means Alastair has to know about this even if Ted is the bio father.

    That is why I wish Hugo would talk to Jill about doing a paternity test (unbeknownst to Alastair) to at least get the facts.

    I am arguing this for Alastair, by the way, not for Hugo. Spudtater says “I would say it’s a more patriarchal view to think that a man should have a “right” to a child based on genetics.” It’s not Hugo’s rights I’m worried about, it’s Alastair’s.

    I don’t think Hugo has any rights any more; he probably did forfeit those. But he may still face obligations, including the obligation to get this bio-parenting and adoptive parenting issue cleared up for the child. Jill faces those obligations as well, I believe, but just because she’s fallen down on the job doesn’t exonerate Hugo. He doesn’t have the power to shift responsibility to her on this matter.

  26. Brian says:

    “And the suggestion that Hugo should do something now is dumber than a sack of hair. Not go along with Jill at the time? Maybe – but now? The kid is Jill’s and Ted’s, and screwing that up would accomplish nothing but pain for all involved.”

    The screwed-up situation and the possible pain already exist; they’ve just been swept under the rug, where they will continue to grow into a bigger mess and bigger pain down the road for Alastair. If Hugo is the bio father, I suspect it is very unlikely this bio truth will not emerge at some point in Alastair’s life.

    I do think it is worth sparing Alastair, and maybe Ted, the pain of even knowing this is a possibility. That is why I think Hugo should talk to Jill about a confidential paternity test. I actually think it is Hugo’s obligation to Alastair to do this to get it cleared up for him. I don’t know if the law regards it that way, but I suspect it does. And even if it is not legal obligation, it is a moral obligation, I think. Hugo knows Jill has not done the work of figuring this out; he needs to step up.

  27. “There’s nothing stopping him from sending a child support check.”

    JILL DOES NOT WANT A CHILD SUPPORT CHECK.

    For crying out loud, leave this whole mess to Jill. She’s the one to make the call. It would be horrible of Hugo to butt into a family like that.

  28. JILL DOES NOT WANT A CHILD SUPPORT CHECK.

    But Ted might want some reimbursement for all the money Hugo stole from him.

    John (not Kiwi)

  29. I am a therapist and I’ve either researched, worked with, or clinically discussed nearly every aspect of situations like this. The bottom line is one must always view these cases from the best interests of the child, as someone wrote earlier.
    There is no possible positive for the boy in Hugo essentially barging unwanted into his life at this point and there is no way to guarantee that would not happen with any of the “suggestions” that have been made.

    “There’s nothing stopping him from sending a child support check.”
    Yes, there is. Doing so creates more information that is potentially discoverable, trackable and can lead to the boy’s life being horribly disrupted.
    When doing something means creating damage, you do nothing.

    Hugo supported this woman in making her own decision as to what is best for her child (no dispute that he is hers, right?). This meant Hugo stepping back from an emotionally charged situation, putting his own feelings aside and following her wishes. That’s pretty darn feminist. Despite being in a “falling down” period, it reads to me that his feminist leanings were in nascent form even then.

    “Ted deserved to know the truth and to not have the foundation of his marriage and family based on a lie. That’s not opinion, it’s fact.”
    Mmm, no, still an opinion. What you think Ted does or doesn’t “deserve” to know is purely your conjecture; there’s no factual evidence in your statement.

    The only aspect of this that I question was writing/publishing this piece at all, as it could lead to someone putting pieces together.
    And, sadly, it reads here that there are enough spiteful and clever people who would easily insert themselves in something that is none of their business.

    I hear an ominous and frightening tone when people start invoking “the state” as an arbiter or “suggesting” that some action be taken that fits their version of events. Am I alone?

  30. As I said, I’m pretty surprised by the venom that this piece has engendered; just when I thought I’d seen it at all as a blogosphere veteran, I get proven wrong.

    I will say that the chances of anyone piecing this together are nearly impossible, given how much I concealed, how much time has passed, and so forth. I gave that thought before submitting it to GMP.

    As for discussing this with experts, you bet. At the time we did the deal, as it were, I was drinking and using and not talking to anyone. But when I met Alastair, I was newly sober. I talked to my sponsor, to my psychiatrist, to a few trusted friends. All agreed completely that I was to honor the promise I’d made to Jill in my pre-sobriety days. My third wife was (and is) a psychologist specializing in family systems work. She was adamant that I shouldn’t change my mind and break the oath.

    I’ve never met anyone whom I respected as a professional in the field who has told me that yes, at this point, I ought to contact this family and demand a paternity test. I am utterly confident that I’ve done the right thing ever since I did the first wrong thing. I wish this family of five nothing but the best.

    And people, to call this cuckolding is absurd. Jill never cheated on Ted; the first time she slept with him was 48 hours before she last slept with me, when she and Ted were just starting to date. (And yeah, in the real and imperfect world I lived in once and a lot of people still inhabit, people have sex on the first date and don’t use condoms even though they should.) There was no infidelity, no cheating, no promise broken, no lie spoken. There was information withheld that perhaps shouldn’t have been — but that was NEVER my call to make, and it still isn’t.

    Alastair may well be Ted’s biological offspring — a point that the MRAs miss entirely. But irrespective of the truth about that, he is Ted’s son, and irrespective of biology, Ted is Alastair’s only Dad. (Unless there’s been a divorce I don’t know about and a stepfather has come in to the picture!)

  31. “The bottom line is one must always view these cases from the best interests of the child, as someone wrote earlier.”

    So the ends justify the means? It’s okay to trick a man into taking care of someone else’s child if it helps the child?

    Tedd did nothing wrong. In fact, the reason Jill and Hugo decided to foist their child on him was BECAUSE he was a good man. Why should Jill get to decide whether Ted wants to adopt a baby? Is it because she’s a woman?

  32. Andrew Pari

    I don’t see you articulating anything about the child’s interest. You just say it would be disruptive; the disruption has already occurred, it’s just been swept under the rug. I can’t believe a mental health expert supports leaving this kind of ambiguity, and possible later complete betrayal (!) hanging in a child’s life and possibly compounding as time passes (whether the child is fully conscious of this hanging ambiguity it or not).

    You say “Hugo supported this woman in making her own decision as to what is best for her child (no dispute that he is hers, right?). This meant Hugo stepping back from an emotionally charged situation, putting his own feelings aside and following her wishes. That’s pretty darn feminist. Despite being in a “falling down” period, it reads to me that his feminist leanings were in nascent form even then.”

    It is feminist to recognize that babies grow in women’s bodies and they have the right to decide whether to carry the baby to term.

    It is not feminist to overentitle women with full parenting power, even if just bio-parenting power (i.e. the right to sever your rights to an adoptive parent like Ted). That is not the biological reality. Denying this reality is, again, a strange position for a mental health expert to take. Pretending like children don’t have biological fathers is crazy-making and definitely not looking at it from the perspective of a child.

    Child development experts who have actually looked at this from the perspective of the child, such as Kyle Pruett or Stephan Poulter, may have something more learned to say on this issue. Also, Alice Miller, who is unfortunately deceased at this point.

    Hugo has an obligation to the child that is independent of any obligations Jill has to the child. The obligation is to get the bio-parenting clarified. That will then allow the parenting by Ted to be clarified as well, which is also in the child’s interest.

    The position where the state appoints a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of a minor child in these types of situations is very common. (Again, I can’t believe a mental health expert has no experience with this?) Neither of the bio parents seems to be willing to assume the responsibility to the child to get this cleared up, so we as the taxpayers (and those of us who volunteer our time for guardian ad litem work) have to do it for them. Unless Hugo is going to get this addressed.

    I don’t want the state to step in; if they do, Alastair will almost definitely find out about this even if it turns out Ted is the bio-father and he needn’t know about it.

  33. Hugo –

    Since you decided to put this out for public consumption, may I suggest that you contact Pruett or Poulter for their opinion? They are both experts in how children’s relationships with bio and adoptive fathers work and, I suspect, have relevant knowledge of whether allowing the ambiguity to stand (including the possibly of compounding devastation when if any clearing-up later shows that you are the father) is in the child’s interest.

    I also (for your benefit and not Alastair’s on this issue) think you may want to get legal advice. If you are the bio father and this is discovered in the future, you may face legal liability, and that liability may be compounded the more time you let go by.

    Also, although I myself won’t contact the state child welfare authorities (even though your failure to stand by this child in getting this cleared up infuriates me), I wouldn’t be surprised if they find it on their own since you’ve made it a public issue.

  34. Given that I haven’t said which state they’re in (or whether they’re even in the USA anymore), good luck with that all ’round.

    I’ve had legal advice and been told that I should sit tight. If by any chance Alastair contacts me to request a paternity test, then I’m to call the lawyers back — after I say “yes” to the request. JMO, I’m not a novice in these matters and I’m a fairly well-connected dude whose turbulent past has meant lots of professional (legal and therapeutic) intervention.

    Thanks for your concern, however.

  35. Hugo,

    “I will say that the chances of anyone piecing this together are nearly impossible, given how much I concealed, how much time has passed, and so forth. I gave that thought before submitting it to GMP.”

    Glad you did. Whenever I tell something about myself, I’m afraid some friend may read it and think, wow that sounds a lot like SamSeaborn’s story. Privacy is so important when it’s about yourself, but even more important when it’s about other people. Sorry for even wondering whether you weren’t giving that appropriate thought.

  36. Part of my fury here, Hugo, is not just about how this child may suffer, but how you are making such a public spectacle and pronouncement about this where you are so presumptuous about claiming you know the right answer in this situation in a way that is likely to lead other people to think the same behavior is responsible or even lawful.

    You are not really articulating the full breadth of possible consequences to the boy in making your decision, which you then claim is in the child’s interest. This in and of itself is repugnant; you are basically using the image of him to sell your irresponsibility.

    Also you are hiding under “feminism” in saying you can turn all responsibility over to Jill, especially the responsibility of determining who the boy’s imputed biological father is. This is so hypocritical – and so damaging to women’s equality – it just enrages me.

    You are basically saying you get to override biology, not only the reality of this in the sense of the boy’s actual genetic linkage (which may have major or minor significance to him at some point for medical reasons); you are doing this even if you defer to Jill because she is trying to magically and arrogantly determine biology. Narcissistic mothering is not feminist in my book, nor are its enablers.

    And you apparently get to override the child’s likely reality of needing to know the truth about his biological father for all the reasons that people have stated here (Ted may reject him when the news comes out, the boy may feel his whole foundation in life has been a fraud, etc).

    And you’re trumpeting this in public articles and creating a public spectacle of this, even as you have no intention, apparently, of considering whether you have responsibility at this point.

  37. I’ve said all I’m gonna say on the matter, Nancy. (I’m tired of your parade of pseudonyms, too.) I’m at peace with this, my family is at peace with this, and the consensus of the very large number of people I’ve consulted (including people with more expertise in this than you) over more than a dozen years is to leave it be.

    You’re furious and you disagree. You think this isn’t consistent with feminism. Write your own op-ed and submit it to GMP or another site explaining why. I’m done with this conversation with you.

  38. Fine, dismiss me – and my pseudonyms (which I forget are there). My name is Nancy Dickinson.

    I would suggest you look at the fact it is not just me who disagrees with you, however. When this many people disagree with you, I would think you would look at this more carefully.

    Also, please talk to Kyle Pruett and Stephan Poulter; since you made a public issue of this, they may be willing to look at it and comment, perhaps publicly as well. They have been studying these issues for years, are recognized national experts on these issues, and are far more knowledgeable about how this type of thing affects a child, and what the child’s best interest is.

    I think this may be one of the corruptions of the twelve-step programs. They teach people they have no control over their addictions, which some people extrapolate to mean they have no responsibility for their behavior, particularly toward minors who are not able to navigate the “amends-making” the way other adults are.

    Also all the politicizing of the woman’s right to choose abortion may also have a tendency to corrupt people’s thinking and create this magical thinking that the man did not make a choice to create the child, did not contribute half the genes, and does not have any responsibility for the child if the woman doesn’t ask him for anything.

    Anyway, I’ve registered my objection.

  39. I have to admit that I skipped a few comments, but I’m amazed at all the angry men going on like it’s just a contest between Ted and Hugo. Jill made her decision, and Hugo (knowingly) and Ted (unknowingly) got to go along with it. Parents and lovers have to make all kinds of decisions about what to disclose, and I think this is a dangerous but valid one. Sometimes there are only bad options.

  40. Not every problem or dilemma has a remedy, and I agree that it would almost certainly be unconscionably hazardous to this child’s well-being or to his relationship with his putative father. Nothing can justify that now, at this point.

    That being said, can we at least be clear about the fact that this IS and WAS an ethical problem and dilemma, Hugo, and that there just may have been something questionable with Jill going off to marry her chosen “professionally and emotionally stable” man and choosing unilaterally to pick the father-son relationship between two other people that she liked best without disclosing a salient fact, and with you knowingly facilitating that omission? The circumstances as described here really sound as though Jill may have been on the prowl, at least as you described them in the original GMP post. It wasn’t and shouldn’t have been exclusively her choice to make.

    I’ve thought something before concerning some of your stories and their contemporary relevance, Hugo, and I really have to wonder about it now with this one: the accounting for the “Hugo who was” before July 1, 1998 may come under a different moral calculus, but does that accounting always implicate some person with a Y-chromosome other than you? Go do kapparos with your Kabbalah group if you have to outsource your sins that bad.

  41. I honestly think Hugo is being trashed unfairly.

    I don’t really know why he decieded to take out the story and talk about it, but if people really want to play what if, given the info revealed in the story, what better options were there for Jill?

    This seems to be a case where being honest about past mistakes (and no doubt, the two made mistakes) had a significant chance of creating much more pain and suffering than not being honest. We don’t know if Jill told Ted about it in the meantime, and he accepted the uncertainty. We don’t know anything but what Hugo has revealed about the time back in the 90s. And for what it’s worth, based on the revealed information, and assuming her motives for seeing Ted and marrying Ted and living with Ted were honorable, then given all the information there is, it seems to me like the reasonable thing to do. It’s not absolute right, of course, because there is no absolute right in such a situation, but not being right doesn’t make it wrong either.

    It’s what there was.

    “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”.

  42. Again, this is the part that bothers me:

    “There was no infidelity, no cheating, no promise broken, no lie spoken. There was information withheld that perhaps shouldn’t have been — but that was NEVER my call to make, and it still isn’t. ”

    A lie of ommission is still a lie!

    I know that Hugo made a lot of changes to the story, but from the way it currently reads, Jill found out she was pregnant and a marriage to Ted took place within the next 2 months (it sounds like at least a month had passed since conception).

    Now, maybe years had passed, to me that would change everything: the marriage is no longer a likely result of a pregnancy but rather a true commitment made between two fully informed individuals about what they are getting into.

    But a marriage that takes place after 2 months, during a pregnancy, when the husband-to-be is not told the truth about parentage? That’s questionable for obvious reasons.

    To say “That was Jill’s call,” is to a certain extent irresponsible. It was certainly NOT Hugo’s call, I don’t believe Hugo should have tried to let Ted know, then or now. But it should not have been a “call” for Jill either, because it should not have even been a question!

    I can skim through this blog, GMP, Jezebel, Feministe, or any other site with feminist leanings and read piece after piece after piece about how a woman giving consent for sex, based on a lie she has been told, is not truly giving consent. We know that this extends to lies of ommission (indeed, if the man neglects to share his status as HIV positive with a partner, this can land him in jail!). Yet we are supposed to accept that “It was Jill’s call,” when Ted was deciding whether or not he consented to marriage?

    Like I said above, I don’t know, maybe it wasn’t a wedding-out-of-pregnancy, maybe Hugo did considerably shuffle the timeline. But if the timeline is even close to the one described at GMP, it seems likely that there is a serious breach of trust here, and one that should not be taken lightly.

  43. It’s clear to me that Hugo and Jill made their decisions in good faith. I believe they made the wrong decision. I remember my friend, at around age 20, being really shaken up when she found out her father wasn’t her bio father. She still loves her “real” dad just as much as ever, but she felt betrayed, especially by her mother. Which brings me to another point, that I mentioned on the last thread – genetics. Alastair has a right to now what genetic diseases he is succeptible to, assuming bio dad is alive and around to give it. In this case, if Hugo chooses not to disclose that information and he is Hugo’s bio kid, it will not be possible for Alastair to know his genetic health risks. He will consistently fill out incorrect information on his doctor forms. His CHILDREN will fill out incorrect information about their paternal grandfather’s health history. I know a few people who won’t touch alcohol because dad had a substance abuse problem. It’s in their blood. Hugo did, too (though I don’t know if Hugo’s problem had anything to do with genetics). If Alastair is Hugo’s kid, Alastair might not have the full information to make the correct decision.

    There are ways he could find out, anyway. What if he goes to donate a kindey or part of his liver to a family member and it turns out he’s a terrible genetic match. What if, and this is even worse, he needs a donation and can’t find a good match in his own family? Genetic counseling is getting more and more common for couples, too. If Alastair decides to give birth in 15 years, he may be in for a shock!

    And to address this:

    ” The bottom line is one must always view these cases from the best interests of the child, as someone wrote earlier.”

    If I cheat on my wife and she said she threatened to divorce me if I ever cheated on her, should I deceive her in order to keep the family intact? What if I have a child outside of marriage or a committed relationship and I run the risk of being called up for child support? I didn’t tell my spouse (because I didn’t want to break up my family for the sake of the children) and suddenly my salary is going to 4 children instead of 3. This is ridiculous. A spouse is a person, too, no less a person than a child. A spouse deserves honesty. “Without trust, you have nothing” were my old therapist’s words. I think they fit well here.

    I think Hugo is making the right decision now, but the genetics thing still REEEEAAALLY bugs me. I gotta give credit where credit is due, too. Some of the arguments I put together here were originally advanced by TGMP and Jezebel.

  44. What I find interesting (well, laying aside the sordid and actually mundane “human interest” perspectives) is this: Sperm is not love. Noted. One understanding might be that sperm is one point in a series of deceptions and intrigues whereby one entity ensures the survival of the ideas (genes, deliberately conflating the two here – I will split these apart again later) that their genetic code represents, and making this at minimum biological cost to the donor organism. (I am working from the recently-discussed premise that the first sexual relationship was similar in form to a rape – who knows, perhaps a botched feeding? – where one organism found a way to reproduce itself without undergoing the tremendous energy cost of undergoing the duplication itself, instead poking and seeding the unwitting partner bacterium with its own genes.)

    Of course, the other entity (generally understood to be female, though this gets complicated and “non-intuitive” in a hurry – as it should – when talking about more than two genders) fights back, and of course there is still a need for the donor organism to ensure the survival of its genes, which in humans normally leads to some paternal feeling for children. (It should be noted that in this regard Mr. Schwyzer cannot be assumed to have gone without personal sacrifice in this case, even regardless of what the article says.)

    A couple points I think have been roundly missed:

    1.) The child has a strong biological (perhaps not emotional, as previously noted) interest in finding out the medical history of his genetic lineage for his own medical purposes.

    2.a.) However, times they are a changin’, and genetic testing may obviate this medical problem in the future. And, of course, even those with well-defined lineages cannot be automatically understood to automatically have detailed medical information. The logical conclusion of the forebear’s obligation argument would be an absurd one – that every person is obligated to undergo extensive medical tests and furthermore to post to the Internet, send to the Library of Congress, set up a foundation, carve monoliths etc. with their own information to ensure that their genetic heirs will always be able to find out the truth about their own genetic structure. An inverse (perverse?) borrowing from Hobbes, maybe: The obligation to find out these things rests with the descendant, not with the forebear, rather like “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Every person should know that, even if they have no reason to question their parents, that mistakes happen, even in the lab. (Of course, the usual and most effective course available to most people is just to watch their own health and speak with their doctors…the “old-fashioned” way.) Here the “throw everything in the bucket and see what sticks” nature of genetic variation becomes apparent, and also our ability to perhaps perfect on this by maximizing the chance of good genes to survive without being hobbled by some renegade unknown death gene.

    2.b.) The false genetic lineage set out for this child would be a large stumbling block to his discovering for himself that his medical history may be different than he would be expected to believe. More importantly, it may cause false assumptions about his genetic makeup, leading to false diagnoses and treatments. (I’m not completely sure – these things often being deftly handled by mothers – but I suspect there may be the opportunity for the mother to emphasize to doctors her own medical history while not emphasizing the father’s. Or perhaps she is taking a 50-50 gamble that “Tom” is the real father, and using him exclusively as the base. This raises the hairy possibility of emergency room doctors pressing for an immediate treatment, based on a diagnosis using certain heredity factors as criteria, and her having to make the choice whether to reveal to “Tom” that he may not be the father, or taking the risk that her gamble was wrong and the child will die from an improper treatment. This applies just as strongly to ongoing, day-to-day quality of life issues, as noted before.)

    This puts an additional burden on Tom, as well, in that unlike a couple that knowingly uses a genetic donor, he again has no reason to suspect that the assumed medical history is possibly incorrect, and so there is a 50-50 chance again that any informed medical decisions he makes for his child will be based on the incorrect premise that he is the father.

    3.) There was some point to be made here. Must remind myself to at least put a placeholder summation in for the future…perhaps I’ll remember it later, sorry…In its place, then:
    Some “social conservatives” and even liberals will bristle at the concept of their limited resources being used to raise another’s child, but even the most hardcore “contract must be sacrosanct” style economic libertarian works from the premise that children are not fully formed individuals, and should be cared for until at least some age. It could be seen as simply a matter of tactics who ends up footing the bill – be it the biological father through alimony, or “the wrong man,” or the state, or the child her- or himself as a private enterprise loans him the means to be raised (as an unconsenting child, but presumably one interested in continuing to live) to be paid off later as an indenture, in full with interest. There is a point to be made that perhaps “the wrong man” is struggling to achieve his dreams and that this “unjust” burden may deprive him of that dream, and thus deprives society at large the fruits of that unconquered (ha!) dream, but I think this is once again an edge case more or less disconnected with the premise of the free, democratic society which requires some small sacrifices.

    4.) Mr. Schwyzer has not given any indication he would act less than honorably should this situation be untangled. I don’t think even appending the customary “benefit of the doubt” is a fair enough vindication of his actions here.

    5.) On a related point, an observation: A lot of the moralizing is necessarily divided from the concept of maximizing the child’s interest. Case in point: Assuming that a certain member of the British royals is of different parentage than the “official” one, many people will denounce this as an “immoral” or “unseemly” deception. Yet in that case, and in the case being discussed here, there is simply a yawning chasm between the opportunities afforded one child and the other. For good and ill, this is a significant determinant of those childrens’ success in life – the one has a spotlight on all the time, with Societies of Friends named after him and his brother. He can proselytize just as effectively as blunder or shrink under this spotlight, while the other child grows up, in all likelihood, in comparative obscurity in a small American suburb in a family of unexceptional means.

    And, finally, 6) Sperm (and eggs, and the many potential forms of sexual biology with multiple parties donating including those heretofore known and unknown to science) is a form of lineage through ideas. A gene could describe a trait or parameter; in the DNA of a dragon is the description of a wing – just, but resoundingly, an outline, an idea. This message came through somewhat mute in the other comments, but it is clear that many are thinking along the lines that another form of heredity is through ideas – what we consider to be “parenting,” the process. There are plenty of anecdotes from history of children being raised very well to parents other than their own, and plenty of fables with the child learning of a secret elven heritage. The question of “where do I come from?” is enduring throughout history because it is one of the great intangibles of existence. Do you come from “sea monsters” from prehistory, because the water in your body was once in their bodies? Do you come from a dead star, because the heavy elements in your body were almost all generated by a supernova? Are you as cunning and apt as the ancient philosophers (known and unknown – Socrates one and the other a woman listening from a distance as she hung laundry, silently rebutting each of his points in turn) because the air they breathed is the air you breathe? And do you come not as much from the writings of Socrates as you might from the genes of the woman who silently rebuked him? Isn’t your ability to see beyond Socrates the union of your descendant’s intellect as well as having stood on his shoulders?

    Going topical for an imprecise but hopefully helpful analogy (please accept this as a hypothetical): Could Casey Anthony, acquitted of the murder of her daughter, be the victim of *not* being party to an internally realized deception, with the result that a (biological foundation for the) belief in certain biological obligations which would “deceive” her actually is a bulwark against making emotional choices which serve her poorly in the world? (I am not condoning the illiberal use of the armchair psychologist’s term “sociopath,” as no professionally made and reliable diagnosis of her condition, or the lack of it, was disclosed to the public – only speculated on by the same TV personalities who generally served so poorly in that whole matter, but that’s another story.) In other words, the quality of “empathy” (or any other emotional tendency in people) is a deception that holds one back from making certain choices – yet the regular functioning of individuals and society at large is in large part determined (for good) by these deceptions? This is quickly getting off topic but consider why it may be called a deception: I meet a person in an alley. That person intends to murder me and steal my wallet, but I do not know this. Instead, my emotional response to their appearance is one of compassion and so I pull out my wallet to give them some money. They, seeing this as a hostile act, quickly lunge at me with a knife and bury it in my heart.

    Normally, this is an extreme and even laughably implausibly, stereotypically horrific case, because the normal psychology of a homeless person and of a comparatively (and literally) sheltered person runs somewhere between quiet dignity and of comradely regard for one’s fellow beings. We don’t do a full-spectrum analysis of the possibilities because it is impractical to be paralyzed in thought (and arguably such analysis doesn’t usually offer a “best case” solution for any possibility we face), and people in love don’t do every last thing out of the considered interest for the well-being of an unborn child. I find it interesting that we put a premium on questioning all modes of existence according to an ideal, but we also put priority on being able to live a life unencumbered by a consideration of the ideal. One isn’t expected to apologize for being straight, or gay, or for having unrequited (or consummated) loves. Are the people who actually live more important than the dream of a perfect society in which everyone knows where they come from, and is there a better way of reaching for our ideals than simply saying that everyone must be bonded into a family as an immutable object? (Historians will note that the atomic family is a relatively recent phenomenon, in large part a post-WWII phenomenon in the United States).

    Overall, I rank this a much more mundane and less spectacular sort of problem than many of the commentators seem to, because uncertainty (even with the best, most up-to-date medical testing) about the way our bodies work is a fact of life. At the moment, ultimately the main thing buoying us as a species and as individuals is the ongoing fact of that “throw everything in” method of genetic variation – the underpinning of natural selection.

  45. A short response to Mike:

    “A lie of ommission is still a lie!”

    I hate using it as a touchstone because it was so ridiculously implausible, but this is more or less the standpoint that Rorschach from the Watchmen comic series took, which got him killed, and which presumably ended up plunging that world into further unrelenting chaos. The fact is that he stuck to his guns, admirably, without regard for the consequences – perhaps not so admirably. At best, the argument Watchmen advocated is that perhaps it’s alright to be fundamentalist on such issues of “truth” because the world has a way of visiting unintentional justice on the artifice and schemes of would-be puppeteers and web-weavers.

    On the other hand, if there isn’t any agreement to live together peaceably, even in the face of those natural white lies and black omissions that people make due to their imperfections (and I note in my unfortunately lengthy piece above that this seems to be ingrained in human physiology), attaining the pinnacle of society becomes a contest between hypocrites to prove that their execution of a grand vision of their life is the most pure, the least complicated, the least objectionable; a contest to prove in every breath that they have lived a life from which the only hard knocks came from outside; a life which experience has taught us will be very likely cynically laced with unsubtle references to those who, by dint of their own faults hampering our hero, deserve no better than to be condemned as a Public Enemy. (Doesn’t this sound a bit like the trajectory of any top-level public figure these days?)

  46. “Overall, I rank this a much more mundane and less spectacular sort of problem than many of the commentators seem to, because uncertainty (even with the best, most up-to-date medical testing) about the way our bodies work is a fact of life.”

    I certainly didn’t make that argument you are tearing down. And while uncertainty about our bodies IS a fact of life, we can reasonably ascertain risk of many things based on genetic history we are already sure of.

    Perhaps if my parents had told me that my uncle was a schizophrenic, my aunt has an anxiety problem, and my grandfather suffered from bipolar disorder I would have not spent most of high school wondering what was wrong with me as I yearned for death and self-medicated into a drunken, high stupor. Maybe this knowledge would have given me the courage to tell them, instead of suffering alone until my mom found my stash at 17 and set up an appointment with a psychologist. If my mom hadn’t waited to tell me until my mid-20s that my grandfather had testicular cancer I would have started examining my junk earlier and filled out my medical forms accurately.

  47. If Ted and Hugo both had sex with Jill once during the week she got pregnant, the odds are 50:50 it’s Hugo’s.

    But given Ted is the responsible “dad-material” man, he probably used a condom. If he did, then the odds are overwhelmingly against him being the father. Unless you assign a 0% of Ted using a condom, Hugo’s probability of being the father has to be greater than 50%.

    *Jill might have told Hugo she had unprotected sex with Ted, but are we going to assign a 100% problity to her telling the truth? When we already know she’s liar?

  48. There were rumors going around that you got a student pregnant around that same time, but she had an abortion.

    As someone who knew you back then, you were definitely not husband material. Whoever this Jill person was, she was a smart cookie. Or at least as smart as any woman is who sleeps with two guys in the same week without using protection! She knew she couldn’t rely on you for anything other than sex and affection.

    Apropos of all of this, what I think doesn’t come across in your writing about your past is how gentle you were in our eyes. You make yourself out to have been this predator, but really, you were this sweet, intense, passionate young prof who just couldn’t always hold it together. We (and let it be known that Hugo had with some of my friends at PCC but never me) always thought of you as a kind of self-destructive naif (sp?). Maybe it was all an act, but you seemed authentically vulnerable back then. You had a way of making that sexy to many girls, but I’m not sure even you were aware of it.

    Basically, what Hugo does is underestimate how hard some women chased him back in those days. He thinks of himself as this great letcher, but that’s not all the truth. The missing piece is that the women he was with wanted him and usually got what they wanted.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Jill wanted to get pregnant with Hugo’s baby. I don’t know how old she was or if she was a student, but I wouldn’t put it past her. In that case, I feel sorry for Ted and Alastair. I obviously agree with Hugo on one thing, that their is nothing that should be done about it now. Let the sleeping dog lie!

  49. Re: The missing piece is that the women he was with wanted him and usually got what they wanted.

    Coke addicts typically want more coke, but no good and decent person would give them what they want.

  50. Re: Unless you assign a 0% of Ted using a condom, Hugo’s probability of being the father has to be greater than 50%

    Good point, John. (Actually, you and Ms. JMO have been making many excellent points in this thread, in contrast to Alexa and her Hugo Schwyzer Fan Club.)

  51. Aww crap. Please change this:

    “and let it be known that Hugo had with some of my friends at PCC but never me” should read:

    “and let it be known that Hugo had SEX with some of my friends at PCC but never me”

    Hector St, Clare it wasn’t about giving Hugo what he wanted. Sometimes it was about girls going for what they wanted. They wanted him.

  52. To me, the issue’s fairly simple (not of course that it’s any of my business). What’s in the best interest of the kid?

    Taking adult egos and issues out of it, Alistair clearly has a Dad

    It’s amazing to me how many people can’t see through their grand theories about biological essentialism and their exquisite moral outrage to see this simple but extremely important point.

    Maybe, just maybe, Jill was navigating a tricky situation toward the best possible outcome.

  53. So much I could respond to in all this (Alexa and Hector, you two should go out). But this is what made me smile after a long day:

    PM: If Alastair decides to give birth in 15 years, he may be in for a shock.

    If Alastair gives birth, we are ALL in for a shock.

  54. More seriously, following up on my ignored cries of “TMI”, I’d like to bring in something that came up from the older threads about the Meghan Murphy argument. Namely, what does this have to do with feminism?

    Let me put it this way: when I think of social movements such as feminism, I think of them in what are perhaps to you, Hugo, somewhat narrowly “economic” terms—although very broad ones from the perspective of those who call themselves economists. As in, cui bono and the overall distribution of time, work, energy, and materials.

    “The personal is political” because the personal is a site where resources are allocated.

    But it’s not clear to me that “the political is personal”—well, not very much. You do a lot of writing here in terms of working out what are personal issues to me, and you do so in the context of a male feminist blog, but it’s not always clear to me that you do a good job of connecting them to the larger issues of social justice.

    You can see how this worked out in the dialogue with the F-Word—Meghan and her commenters asked you what they thought was a political question (that you might then illustrate with anecdotes as part of a larger point), but you and many of your commenters seemed to take it as a personal question that happens, presumably, in an assumed political context, and required a lot of personal exposition. Mutual frustration ensued.

    To what extent does a discourse of personal atonement, personal improvement, and so on, connect to the larger systemic questions of social justice? Or does it at all? Need it even? Am I misreading the context and intentions of this blog?

    Why do I ask? Because of TMI. How does a confessional about a particular personal scenario help the world?

  55. I’m puzzled that so many people seem to see medical history as the big moral issue here. Imagine two alternate Jills, where I change the circumstances from what Hugo describes in different directions.

    JillA has unprotected sex with both TedA and HugoA in the same week, discovers herself pregnant, and knows that she’d much prefer that TedA be the father. She tells both of them all (about the possibility that either one could be the bio father, and about which one she wants to be with). TedA says he’ll happily accept the child as his, and that he doesn’t want a paternity test. JillA lets HugoA know this, and HugoA, realizing that he’d be a way worse father than TedA, accedes to the couple’s wishes.

    JillB has unprotected sex with HugoB and protected sex with TedB in the same week. She tells HugoB about TedB, but tells TedB that there was no one else, and that the condom must have failed. TedB accepts the child as his and marries JillB.

    Does anyone really think that JillA and JillB have made morally equivalent decisions? That AlastairA has been wronged by JillA and TedA when they (both with their eyes open, in this scenario) make the decision that gives AlastairA a stable and loving father? Or that JillB (the one who directly lies and who’s picking a man who probably isn’t AlastairA’s father) would be morally in the clear? But if I make medical history, genetics, and biological fatherhood what matters here, then JillA is just as bad as JillB.

  56. PM: I’m sorry for your particular troubles, but at least we live in a time where you at least can take a stab at the truth, even if late. I have had a few troubles and I do not know where they come from, and even if I do I often do not get clear advice on how to proceed with them. It’s not an impossible battle, however.

    In any case, I did more or less argue for your position, in my point 2.b. above, which is the flip side of 2.a.

    It’s fortunate that “[you] certainly didn’t make that argument you are tearing down” because, in a thread with a dozen commentators, you were not necessarily one of the ones being mentioned. If it is not relevant to your position, but I still managed to tear it down, then we are not at odds, right? You can assume your point stands unless it has been explicitly targeted and “torn down.” I am not so interested in tearing down but in building an understanding of the various potential impacts of an action, which is why my post is so long. I am not playing “devil’s advocate,” but rather laying out a number of positions in hopes that the lack of a clear winner amongst them all may be seen, if true.

    If one of the possibilities enumerated is the most convincing to you, or isn’t mentioned, then of course that one takes precedence over the others.

    djw: I think the immediate above applies here as well, if your comment about “biological essentialism” is a sign I have caused offense. Worth mentioning, also, that parents are important too – assuming a situation where a possible father wanted to know if a child was his or not, he is not obligated to simply accept the lady’s decision. And when we discuss the best interest of the kid, there seems to be a disparity between mental health and physical health (as PM illustrated above). Everybody wants to know where they come from, as a general sort of yearning – but when faced with the possibility that we don’t know, what then? How many kids have undergone some scarring trauma from having an artifice pulled away from them, or even kill themselves? – to carry your apparent argument on further. But you can’t reliably tell that ahead of time, so how could it overcome the possibility of great joy in knowing their real father?

    John: “Unless you assign a 0% of Ted using a condom, Hugo’s probability of being the father has to be greater than 50%.”

    Well, more assumptions – since the lady stuck with Ted, this assumes that they would’ve felt the need for a condom in the first place. Especially, and I hate to be cynical, if the lady had an interest in masking the father.

    I used 50-50 as a rough starting point in blissful ignorance of real probabilities ;) All we can say with what we know – that both men were potential fathers – is that the baseline appears to be a 50-50 distribution, with behavior from either man tending to tilt that percentage toward or away from themselves.

  57. Re: Hector St, Clare it wasn’t about giving Hugo what he wanted. Sometimes it was about girls going for what they wanted. They wanted him.

    Yes, I know, Alexa. In my analogy, the girls were the cokeheads, and Hugo was their dealer.

  58. Hugo, I am the last person who would criticize you on this one. I have had my wild child days, as the name I use here indicates. And I honor your decision. Only you know what the best thing is/was to do.

    But I do feel obligated to offer my experience with a somewhat similar situation. My mother had me when she was rather young and she kept me out of my father’s life. In my early twenties, I found my father and had a wonderful joyous reunion. But over time, he found the issues of things like inheritance and how to introduce me to his friends and family too much to cope with. He excluded me from his life, and that second abandonment was one of the hardest things I have ever been through. It broke me in a way that nothing else before or since has, and as you know, that is saying a great deal.

    I have since discovered that there is a pattern to meeting a long-lost family member. At first, it is like falling in love, and you don’t act rationally when that happens. But when the rush of newness is gone, there is a whole bastion of problems left to cope with. And I am told that more often than not, these relationships don’t work out.

    So the one piece of advice that I have is this: know that there are a thousand reasons that you and Alastair will be reunited at some point between now and the time that you die, and plan accordingly. Talk with your wife about matters like inheritance and how much you would be a part of his life. Think realistically about what kind of relationship you would want. This kid could be someone quite difficult like a misogynistic republican, or could be manifesting the genetic nature of addiction. Would you offer him full rights and responsibilities as a son regardless of who he was in character and personality, or would you include him more or less based on a friendship model? Would you and your wife welcome him to live in your home, and under what circumstances? Would he inherit equally alongside your daughter?

    I am not saying that you need to have all the answers now. But I am saying that you should “count the cost” fully before you make first contact, if ever you do. Don’t wait until you are swept up in the emotions of meeting a long lost relative, someone who might remind you of your dear lost father in some ineffable way, or that might have your sense of humor in a way you didn’t quite realize was unique.

    In any case, Hugo, you are relentlessly brave and I appreciate your airing your dirty laundry. It reassures me to know that we all leave skid marks from time to time.

  59. “I obviously agree with Hugo on one thing, that their is nothing that should be done about it now. Let the sleeping dog lie!”

    Just out of interest, why do you think this? For me a key Feminist principle has always been people should know as much truth about themselves as possible, even if it causes pain and this is a higher ideal than a simple, comfortable life.

  60. . . . really, you were this sweet, intense, passionate young prof who just couldn’t always hold it together. We (and let it be known that Hugo had with some of my friends at PCC but never me) always thought of you as a kind of self-destructive naif (sp?). Maybe it was all an act, but you seemed authentically vulnerable back then. You had a way of making that sexy to many girls, but I’m not sure even you were aware of it.

    This passage is a very interesting insight, Alexa. I see this dynamic all the time – women fall in serious lust with these passionate, intense, handsome men. It helps if they’re chaotic and messy and struggling to hold it together and sometimes failing. I’ve seen female friends do extraordinary things for such men – they’ll leave work at 5, drive four hours, pick up take out, show up at his place, eat, have wild, sweaty sex, drive home, sleep for two hours, take a shower and go to work, exhausted but emotionally fed. I’ve seen my female friends clean houses, do laundry, cook meals, for these men – and usually end up devastated, emotionally distraught and weeping when said men proves totally emotionally unavailable for a long term relationship – and promptly jump at the next chaotic, passionate, intense, messed up man who comes along. Not all women go for this – I know a larger number of women who like these men but would never be caught dead in bed with them because they have no interest in the drama. (FWIW, there are some men who are attracted to women like that – but in my not so vast experience they are far fewer in number.)

  61. “It’s amazing to me how many people can’t see through their grand theories about biological essentialism and their exquisite moral outrage to see this simple but extremely important point.”

    It’s just an issue of moral right. A and B don’t decide for C that C is going to be a dad. That should be worked out in candour WITH C’s invovlement. Now we have what is, (potentially), a big lie and the total negation of somebody’s rights in the situation. It was not a good decision, it was a bad one, and it necessitates more bad to keep it going. The commitment people to principles really starts to show poorly when those principles conflict with a comfortable life.

  62. Lynn,

    I believe your JillA is behaving morally entirely appropriately. Yet as I understand, Ted wasn’t told of Hugo and the about 50% chance the child wasn’t his. So the real moral question for her seems to be a calculation about Ted’s motivation and desire to be with her and her motivation to be with him. IF the pregnancy was the most important reason to do so, then I think there is more severe a moral problem – to use feminist vocabulary – in that Ted was “functionally objectified”. But if her desire was to be with him regardless of the pregnancy and his desire was to be with her regardless of the pregancy, then her calculation is different, because – even though she’s making a decision for him – she’s taking his position into account. Would his desire to be with her be realizable if she told him the truth? Would her desire to be with him? If their desire to be with each other trumped the provision aspect, then I think there is even a moral case to be made for not telling him. In that case, ignorance really seems to be bliss. Of course, no one but, possibly, her, can even possibly answer that.

  63. I haven’t even gotten through the entire thread yet and I had to stop to say that I find all the discussions about Hugo owing Ted money to be particularly abhorrent. How many children of absentee parents feel better when money is thrown their way? If those of you with children discovered that one of them was not biologically your own, you’d demand a paycheck? Seriously? You’d want to be reimbursed financially for the money you spent raising a child as a part of your family?

    Alastair is not a commodity, he is a teenager who, as far as we know, is being raised in a loving and whole family. Maybe Jill should have made a different decision all those years ago, but for Hugo or anyone else to go clomping in with demands for paternity tests, bags of dollar bills, or anything else would be absurd, insulting, and devastating.

    You don’t fix problems by throwing money at them, and you certainly do not fix NONEXISTENT problems by throwing money at them.

  64. Lorie,

    There IS a damn problem and you are part of it. Ted’s entire life is a lie and you and the immoral Hugo and Jill decided for him that genetics isn’t important. I care very much about genetics, we love our children because we are selfish and our genetic children are a part of us. If you don’t care then that’s fine, but you can’t decide for other people.

    Hugo and Jill deceived an innocent man into a life of emotional and financial exploitation. They should face the consequences and charges need to be pressed against them.

    Your opinion is a part of a larger trend diminishing men and our pain and fears. When a man is hurt he is expected to just face it, women however are protected by law from even the smallest things like inappropriate comments or even staring. The law should be applied to the defense of men as well as women and empathy should be giving to a person regardless of gender. Ted definitely deserve our empathy. (BTW Just today I saw a story about a woman cutting off her husband penis and the majority of comments, especially from women, did not care for the man at all and even cheered the woman.)

    Ted is every man today which is deceived/hurt/abused and is just expected to take it silently and be a “good” man. Men should stop being “good” and start to protect themselves from the ever increasing feminist mindset which only cares for women issues and their point of view (which is important, but should take into consideration men’s rights as well).

  65. ” How many children of absentee parents feel better when money is thrown their way?”

    “You don’t fix problems by throwing money at them, ”

    I assume this also applies when women request child support payments from men, right?

  66. If I were Ted and I found out, I wouldn’t stop loving Alastair, but there’s a decent chance I would stop loving Jill. He got used by a woman for money, basically. The fact that the discussion centers around the child bothers me; yes, it’s important that the child be properly supported, but the idea that it happened through deception is disgusting. You can’t justify that; we don’t go around tricking people to give support to children on a daily basis. The reason it was okay here, of course, is that it would have hampered Jill’s ability to land a wealthy and gullible husband to tell the truth.

    Of course, this is something that’s happened throughout the animal kingdom for long before humanity was even on the scene – stable, reliable mates get tricked into fathering children that aren’t theirs by others who take it as their reproductive strategy to let others do the work for them. It’s a petty capitulation to their worst instincts on the part of Jill and Hugo, and their decade-later rationalizations would be pathetically funny if it weren’t for the wool that’s been pulled over Ted and Alastair’s eyes.

    I’m not the kind of person who thinks that it’s only possible to love children that you believe are biologically yours (my life is certainly an example of that), but there are some people who have their affection contingent upon that. The ironic thing is that women are so rarely put into that situation that there’s plenty of blame to heap unevenly upon men for being so ‘heartless’ (read: wanting honesty with regard to one of the most important things to happen in their lifetime).

  67. My opinion is that Jill has given no indication that she is struggling, financially or otherwise. Money is no substitute for a loving parent. We have no indication that Alastair is lacking a loving parent – in fact, from what we know, it’s quite the opposite. This situation is not one in which Hugo is likely the father and the mother is struggling, destitute, and desperate for help.

    If destroying happy families to avenge the alleged honor of a stranger where there MIGHT NOT EVEN BE A PROBLEM is required in order for me to be on the “right” side, save it. I’d rather not. I prefer to be on the side where stable, happy families are valued over a fourteen year old omission that may not even be relevant today.

  68. I’ll consent that the Ted portion is a crime provided a few things. First, it’s not Hugo’s crime. The person who Ted has a relationship with is Jill. Also, it’s a misdemeanor. The person who was happy to raise a kid was Ted.

    Hugo told his story and the deal he made. He should keep that deal because he’s had no experience to cause him to change the deal. It’s one crime and it’s over. And Jill can have the karma for it.

    But I’d really just friend them on Facebook for having been so interesting. I’m cold like that.

  69. lorie,

    You apparently didn’t read my post (or others). Nobody here talked about “honor”.

    Are you arguing with me or with the stereotypes in your head.

  70. Hugo,

    “As far as I’m concerned, a man for whom it would make a significant difference doesn’t deserve the title “father.””

    If this is your logic then obviously you should clear up any doubt over whethe Ted is the biological father. As it stands you don’t know if it would make a significant difference to him or not, so you hardly know if he deserves the title father.

    As far as expert advice goes, I’m sure experts are mostly happy if things run smoothly, that’s it. If it means a few wrongs go unaddressed then so be it. The moral dimension is totally subordinated to the pragmatic one for them.

    I think it’s obvious that a wrong has been inflicted here and that the right thing can be hurtful to do, but people deserve the truth about themselves and certainly the truth about their intimate relationships.

  71. @Lynn: “But if I make medical history, genetics, and biological fatherhood what matters here, then JillA is just as bad as JillB.”

    That’s an excellent point. Another thing we should consider, though admittedly we’re making a lot of assumptions and hanging a lot of potential responsibility on “Jill” without knowing all of the circumstances, but insofar as they’ve been presented…

    Consider the fact that, if Ted was led to believe that he was Alistair’s father, then he also would have had to assume that he’d be legally, financially, and morally responsible for the child as well, something that we know was a 50-50 proposition. Whether he would be legally and financially responsible or not rested entirely on Jill’s decisions whether to carry the child to term, or possibly to pursue him for child-support, etc. Again, we don’t know for sure what his intentions were or might have been absent the existence of Alistair before birth, but it’s not unreasonable to consider whether the responsibility Jill essentially chose him to shoulder, and the implied in terrorem effect of being held legally and financially responsible, might have affected his thinking and his decision to marry, or his decision to marry and become a father at that particular time.

  72. “So much I could respond to in all this (Alexa and Hector, you two should go out). But this is what made me smile after a long day:”

    Heh. Sometimes the best gifts are unintentional.

    @Edwin, sorry for that. Your comment came right before mine, so I assumed you were addressing me. Looks like we’re mostly in agreement.

    @wondering “For me a key Feminist principle has always been people should know as much truth about themselves as possible, even if it causes pain and this is a higher ideal than a simple, comfortable life.”

    I can get behind this, although I’d add the word “reasonably” before “possible.” Just to be thorough.

    @Lynn

    I mentioned the medical issue because it’s touched me personally, and my little sister, too. I’d say JillB is acting wrongly, and Ted’s role in this is nothing to brush aside.

    Someday you may get pancreatic cancer, lymphoma, or God-knows-what, Hugo. I doubt you’d feel moral if you hid that biological predisposition from Heloise or any future children you may have(obviously this would have to happen while the child’s very young). ALL your children should have that information.

  73. “If destroying happy families to avenge the alleged honor of a stranger where there MIGHT NOT EVEN BE A PROBLEM is required in order for me to be on the “right” side, save it. I’d rather not. I prefer to be on the side where stable, happy families are valued over a fourteen year old omission that may not even be relevant today.”

    I’m sure Jill told herself something like that to get to sleep at night. Things certainly worked out nice for her, didn’t they? She gets to hide her deception and dishonesty behind a screen of ‘But, it might harm the child!’

    Obviously, when it’s men caring about knowing whether a child is biologically theirs, its just silly patriarchal ‘honor’ and they can be treated like children and not allowed to make an informed decision. If a woman was in the same situation, however, how the fur would fly. I suppose then, if Ted ends up cheating on her, he should never tell her because it might cause the relationship to have trouble and that might negatively affect Alastair’s life?

  74. “I suppose then, if Ted ends up cheating on her, he should never tell her because it might cause the relationship to have trouble and that might negatively affect Alastair’s life?”

    @Haight: Actually, yes. With a few caveats, but that’s a topic for another day. But I do believe that in one-off cheating situations, confessing can do more harm than good and ultimately benefits the cheater (who may ease his/her guilt by confessing) more than the one cheated on. I’m not condoning cheating by holding that opinion, fwiw.

  75. FormerWildChild: Maybe picking nits, but I haven’t really laid claim to any wild child days, but I don’t see an opening to criticize Hugo, either. I think having experience in life has led us both, and some others, to decide that it is simply a forgivable human error (if even it was an error). Of course, other peoples’ experiences have led them to the opposite conclusion…

    lorie: “You don’t fix problems by throwing money at them, and you certainly do not fix NONEXISTENT problems by throwing money at them.” Is there some greater significance to this bit? Sometimes, money is indeed the answer. I won’t speak for anybody but myself, but I didn’t notice that money demands were a major plank for the other commenters.

    RW23: Whoa, whoaaaa. Have much resentment of elites? I don’t immediately assume that “experts” are more prone to ignoring problems than the general population for the sake of a smoothly-running society. If anything, the sort of experts you’re likely to see referred to such (say murder trial witnesses) are people who didn’t go into business because of some personal activist nature.

    @wondering and PM: Is there or is there not a

    Haight and Tom: I think the exact point that this kind of deception is actually a commonplace somewhat demonstrates that it has actually been, only as far as biology goes, not a negative for the species. Personally, it evokes a sense of horror to consider that Ted may have felt constrained to only one child, and ultimately raised a child that was not his. Realistically, he probably did have the opportunity to have at least one more child, of his own, and if so both of them benefit from his reputed reliability. Without beating up on poor Hugo too much, it stands to reason that having a stable father is much better than having a “real” father who is having trouble.

    @Wondering and PM: Are there no situations that could be easily thought of where the ideal clashes with selecting the good in a real situation? I think we’ve seen a few examples here. Of course, I’m willing to agree that sometimes ideals may trump pragmatic concerns. This has been an underlying assumption of many comments here: Truth versus the gentle illusion of it; the right to support one’s own dream, and one’s own biological children, over being deceived for a greater good (not a clear-cut case the good is greater as I wrote before) as just a couple examples.

  76. @ Edward Hermann: No, you didn’t give offense. I don’t find assertions of biological essentialism about parents offensive, wrong-headed and foreign to a good deal of lived experience. (You also didn’t offend me because when an extremely long comment that started off with speculation about bacteria raping other bacteria, I made the wager that reading the whole comment wasn’t worth the trouble, and skipped ahead).

    The conflation of “real” and “biological” as modifiers of “parent continues to strike me as profoundly pointless, and contrary to the lived experience of most normal people I know. My own father discovered as an adult that his father was not his biological father, and his experience, which seemed utterly unremarkable to me, was a) a slight curiosity about the story behind it all, b) concern that his mother would needlessly feel guilty about keeping the secret. (Whether this secret was kept from my grandfather, she never said; he was deceased by the time the truth came out.) It was certainly not a major life event, or a source of any consternation. My father would consider the notion that the man who raised him was not his “real father” not only to wrong, but to be an utterly incomprehensible claim.

  77. @Edwin:

    JMO said: “If Hugo is the bio-father and I were Ted, I might join with Alastair (or some uninvolved person representing Alastair) in suing Hugo and Jill for fraud and Hugo for child support. That doesn’t fix things, but it does at least compensate Ted for what he’s had to carry financially on Hugo’s behalf.”

    and John said: “There’s nothing stopping him from sending a child support check.”

    and JMO said: “Hugo may still face obligations of child support and need to make other compensation for fraud.”

    and John said: “But Ted might want some reimbursement for all the money Hugo stole from him.”

    and I think that’s where I stopped and jumped down to comment.

  78. @Edwin: It’s not a negative for the species, but there are plenty of things that animals do habitually that aren’t a negative for the species (rape, for instance) that we would consider unethical or harmful for some or all of the individuals involved.

    And yes, it’s better to have a good parent than one that is not dedicated to or capable of raising a child, even if they are the biological parent. What bothers me is that this decision was made without Ted’s consent. Plenty of fathers raise children that aren’t biologically theirs all over the world, and the fact that Ted’s input wasn’t sought leads me to believe that Jill found it highly likely that he would not be agreeable to raising a child not biologically his – so Jill essentially made this decision for him, likely playing on his sense of responsibility and better nature to get him to marry her and help take care of the child. Jill made out great, as she had someone to financially support her; Hugo made out great, as he was freed from the consequences of having unprotected sex in a cavalier manner. I guess Alastair made out pretty well, too, if Hugo’s take on his current family situation is correct, but I can’t exactly fault him for that. Ted, of course, was basically taken advantage of for being a nice guy.

  79. we love our children because we are selfish and our genetic children are a part of us.

    What you mean ‘we’, white man?

  80. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if Jill was having one of those dilemmas about choosing between two guys.

    My experience with “friends with benefits” is that very few women really want that relationship. (Some do, but not most.) Reading between the lines, I’m guessing that Jill wanted Hugo but settled for Ted. I don’t see anywhere where Hugo said Ted was wealthy. My hunch is that she was a little in love with her friend, the one she confided everything in, her FWB Hugo. (GlendenB, thank you for replying: youre’ right about the kind of women who chase guys like Hugo.)

    But when she found out she was pregnant and didn’t want an abortion, she knew that Hugo would be a failure as a father and a husband. So she went for second best. She picked the less sexy but much more reliable man who actually loved her. Not a perfect choice but a rational one. Hugo could’ve made it so much worse by telling Ted or by trying to get Jill back. If we can believe what he says here, and Hugo has no reason to lie, he can be proud of that.

    As a womnan, I am in absolute sympathy with Jill. I would have done the same thing.

  81. My auntie divorced (a man I don’t know well) and married a “Ted”. Her husband has been more of a father to my cousin than hir father ever was. Sperm doesn’t make love, indeed.

  82. djw: Strange passive-aggressively raced notice where you took your time to note that my post wasn’t worth your time aside, what I get out of it was that you are accusing me of conflating two very different concepts (“real parents” versus biological parents) that I thought I took pains to separate, albeit elsewhere. Maybe I’m mistaken, but it seems as if when one decides to ignore a long post, then it’s best to actually do just that.

    RW23: It does. You inserted a bizarre tangential rant against experts for no apparent reason. Second to last line from your 10:33AM post on the 13th.

    Haight: In my response I keep running into the fact that I’m obviously beating a different drum here. I still am seeing a link between this “unethical” behavior and a good outcome, which is troubling, certainly.

    Also, and I suppose it won’t be interesting for most, there is a problem with the the unchanging, fits-at-all-times use of rape due to its connotations. The now infamous (I suppose) “bacteria rape” thing from my first reply is actually not a rape. And sexual misconduct between organisms may indeed be rape but our term is loaded with the understanding of mental traumas etc. even in cases when it cannot apply due to the simplicity of the creatures involved. But the real reason for mentioning rape in the first place was to say that there is a biological arms race between genders (or to be even more precise, between genetic lineages) and while this often leads to deceptions and “unjust” activities, I would say that without these relationships the world would be a lot less well-developed.

    I think an obvious implication of this is that our understanding of relationships does not correlate to an ideal method of genetic transfer. When you write an academic paper, it’s peer reviewed do that the best ideas survive – comparatively speaking, babies get flung out into the wild (often literally).

    I can see you aren’t willing to embrace cons, and I’m not ready to accept them, either, as legitimate, but they do serve a legitimate purpose.

    lorie: Thanks, although these were essentially comments directed at individuals…without following the reasoning or the balance of outcomes given, those end up being just comments without context for me, unfortunately.

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