Thursday, August 12, 2004


Imaginary Pregnancies and the Boys Who Imagine Them

Well, as this has come up with Freud, and since it came up about 6 months ago with a pseudo-ex of mine, I feel like it's worthy of a post. First, I believe that boys who manufacture pregnancy scares have some common characteristics:
  1. They are in their mid-twenties. (Pseudo-Ex was 24; Freud is 26.)
  2. They have had limited long-term relationship experience.
  3. They do not maintain friendships with their ex-girlfriends nor do they generally have intimate friendships with women.

With these characteristics in mind, I believe that three interlocking issues contribute to the paranoid fantasy that one has impregnated Dr. Crazy. (Remember, there is no rational reason for this fear - though, of course, no method other than abstinence is fool-proof - as I am vigilant about not getting myself with child at this point in my life.)

Issue #1: Failure to Believe in the Condom.

What does "belief" have to do with condoms, you ask? Condoms exist; we know how they work: they are not an article of faith. Except, in this particular demographic, apparently they are not a proven method of birth control (or, more significantly, prevention of disease transmission). I insist on condoms. But both of these gentlemen attempted to persuade me against condom use. Now, this is ridiculous and stupid, as why would they trust me to be on the pill (1) or not to have any sort of infection/disease (2)? However, clearly there has been some sort of breakdown in sex education, and so the condom is not perceived as linked to these possibilities in their brains. Instead, both suggested use of the "pull out" method, which, as we know, is, like, 100% effective. Now, of course, accidents can happen with condoms, but this is no argument against their use. Moreover, if one does use them, one can be generally secure that unless something out of the ordinary happens one can be relatively confident that pregnancy/disease will not be an issue. But because these boys clearly don't accept the scientific reality of how condoms work, they believe that pregnancy will happen whether one uses them or not.

Issue #2: Well-Meaning Misogyny

These individuals have thoroughly internalized the ideas that when women have sex they do it for emotional connection (1) and that when a woman chooses to have sex with a man it is because she wants a "romantic" relationship with him (2). It is impossible for them to fathom - and again, this seems to indicate a breakdown in sex education - that women can feel sexual desire independently of any romantic notions they may have. The result of this is that these men find it necessary to announce - repeatedly - that they do not want a relationship (a) and that they fail to believe the woman when she says that she doesn't want one herself (b). You may notice that Issue #2 in some way contradicts Issue #1, in that in Issue #1 the boy implicitly trusts the woman in question and in Issue #2 he characterizes her as manipulative and deceptive. Again, it is important to remember that these individuals are not particularly logical, rational, or self-aware, and so these contradictions in thought/practice cannot be avoided.

Issue #3 - The Desire to be a "Stand-Up Guy"

Ok, now, theoretically, there is nothing in the world wrong with being a stand-up guy. Basically, to be such would mean that one is sensitive to the needs of others, honest and forthright, and generally trust-worthy and dependable. However, when individuals like this make a point of asserting that they are "stand-up guys," the assertion indicates a very basic failure to actually be these things. Their actions are predicated upon what they think a stand-up guy would do - a desire to be "adult" about relationships and girls - and wanting to appear to be a stand-up guy, when in reality they are scared little boys. They make impulsive decisions, and then after the fact they are afraid that those decisions could have consequences - consequences, incidentally, that didn't enter their idiotic heads when they were suggesting not using a condom. After the fact, however, they feel like they've been "unfair" to the woman, who has no agency and who is herself irresponsible and stupid (see #2), and so they want her to know that he feels horrible about his dealings with her (oh, yes, this makes a girl feel nice) and he wants to know whether/when she gets her period because it's "his responsibility, too." I think propaganda about dead-beat dads has actually penetrated their thick skulls whereas all sex education has not. Oh, and, interestingly, when one tells them that it's really not their business, they then act like they are the victim of the woman who is unfair to them for saying it has nothing to do with them.

So yes, that's a basic breakdown of what I think inspires the imaginary pregnancy scare. Additionally, there are potential private variables that can make an imaginary pregnancy scare more likely - Pseudo-Ex was himself an unplanned pregnancy, for example - but I think that the three interlocking issues have more to do with the fact that I have to deal with their paranoid fantasies than any issues related to personal history and/or experience.

(Incidentally, both Pseudo-Ex and Freud also share the smooth move of attempting to impress me by reading Steinbeck.... I'm thinking that I may be trying to work out some subconscious thing by choosing these two idiotic individuals for distraction.... And is it possible that attempting to impress a college professor by reading Steinbeck is an indicator that the same individual will then freak out that he will have gotten the college professor pregnant? Or, and this is my favorite theory - maybe the imaginary pregnancy is a way of recuperating the phallus and fighting against the castrating powers of the college professor?)

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