A man on Reddit was shocked, taken aback, stupefied even when his partner asked for compensation to the tune of $50-100k to have their baby. She cited lost wages and other sacrifices that she was making for them to start a family. It’s important to note that this couple was not married and had no intention of going down the legal route. I first heard about this story from a Kenyan YouTube channel, the Joyride podcast which is hosted by a husband and wife. They discuss it and it’s pretty divisive. The husband was outright against it, calling it transactional and the wife, while she said she understood it, made it clear that it was not for them as a couple. Let’s talk about it and why this idea of compensating the partner who gives birth appears for many people to be a non-starter.
The devaluing of women’s contributions
Childbirth even with the proliferation of horror stories and overwhelming evidence that it isn’t continues to be perceived as this natural process. I mean even animals do it. It’s not that deep. In her book, Full Surrogacy Now, Sophie Lewis quotes Kathy Acker who remarked that having cancer was like having a baby. Remarks that are backed up by scientific findings. Part of the reason why people immediately rebel against the idea of compensating women for childbirth is because like many other things women do, this too is devalued and grossly underestimated in a patriarchal society. Women go through untold pain, their bodies are irreparably damaged sometimes they die altogether. But it’s no big deal, even animals do it. Worse, for people who are religiously inclined, all those tribulations and pain are a consequence of women’s sin. It’s how God planned it.
The injustice of heterosexual arrangements
One of the most common reactions to that man’s story was how gross society has become, everything is so transactional now. There is a place for this criticism, no doubt. This is not it though. The woman who asked for compensation listed every reason why she was doing it and even came with a 16-page document with detailed notes and explanations. She wanted him to compensate her for the salary she would lose while on maternity leave because her employer only pays half pay while on maternity. That was for her 6-month maternity leave. The notes included provisions should they agree to extend her leave past the paid leave period, contributions to her retirement plan, and how they would split housework as well as save for childcare and a housekeeper.
One of the reasons this rubs people the wrong way is the woman quantifying her contribution and how she expected him to match it. Women are just supposed to make sacrifices without making a big deal out of it. So she’s losing half her salary for 6 months, it’s for love, for the family, for her baby. When the baby comes she’ll be taking on more housework, but she can’t list that as part of her contribution. She is just to do it, for love, for her family, for her baby. Writing down her sacrifices and contributions clearly shows all the ways in which she’s contributing, and he isn’t. It shows how completely unequal, unjust, and unbalanced contributions between heterosexual couples are. Can’t have that. Way too dangerous. It’s best to just have ideas about how things will go floating in our heads. Thoughts and prayers style.
This woman was working from home and had the audacity and foresight to include savings for a housekeeper. This kind of thing would obviously be put in her purview, I mean she’s in the house already. Women have to make these sacrifices all the time and they are not viewed as sacrifices and contributions. It’s just a thing women are supposed to do.
Walk by sight, not faith
When the Kenyan podcasters talked about it, the man insisted he was against it but, but, he would be there to take care of his family. The woman, his wife, should have confidence and faith in him that he would do his part. He actually said if she needed money while out of work, all she had to do was ask and he’d give it to her. I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath and reign in your fury. I could not believe in 2023, the year of our Lady, the great Lizzo herself, men still think there’s any universe in which their wives want to be in a position where they’re asking their husbands for money as a child does their parent. What???
The point is though, women are encouraged to walk by faith. To trust that men will be there to support them and the baby. No need for contracts set in stone. Men as we have learnt and continue to be reminded every day are nothing if not trustworthy especially when it comes to the small matter of raising their children. You don’t have to worry about how you will support your child in the event that things don’t go as planned. Have faith, your baby will be fine, they’ll be taken care of. All those stories we hear about men having to be forced by children’s court to pay child support and those are isolated incidents. All those single mothers who were left after having children and now have to beg for the smallest contributions are one in a million. It’s just that bad news really travels fast.
This woman decided she wasn’t going to walk by faith. She wanted his legal commitment regarding financial contributions, about pulling his weight in domestic work and other childcare costs like a housekeeper. That was her big mistake, not having faith. If there’s something religious traditions teach us, it’s that those who choose sight and reject faith, those people perish. If the discussions around this are anything to go by, any woman who chooses this path of sight not faith has ‘relationship perishing soon’ all over her bingo card.
The heart of the matter
The real truth hidden under all the contracts and discussions is that that woman is anxious, she’s worried about the future because of what she’s seen happen to other women and she’s making plans to make sure she and her baby are going to be okay. I am convinced that a man who loves, who sees what society does to women, how society despises single women, how precarious they are will -even if they intend to be there all through- work to calm their partner’s anxiety. Because anybody who’s even a little honest with themselves will admit that these fears are not baseless, these concerns that only you will make the sacrifices, only you stand to lose are not baseless. They are not baseless. This woman has courage, foresight and clarity of thought to see what life is like and make plans to mitigate against the worst possible outcome.
I’m with the woman who called the 16-page contract woman, iconic and revolutionary! She is iconic and revolutionary! Long live the spirit of that woman! Long live!
Here is a tweet with the screenshots just in case you want to get the full story. Find the story here on Reddit’s Twitter account.
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