The artificial womb, potentially to be invented sometime in the next 40 years, could dramatically benefit men – providing us with reproductive independence from women – and the world as a whole. This blog is here to encourage popular support for the use of the technology by well-intentioned individuals and groups of people, critically examine its potential misuse by governments and other institutions, give legislative support for it once it becomes available and explore its implications in any society that were to incorporate it. Although it may seem early as of now (October 2013) to build up support for this technology, we need to do so if we want to overcome the hostility of special interest groups such as feminists, who will try to make artificial wombs illegal for heterosexual men to use, and traditionalists, who will want to ban their use altogether.
A strong, if not perhaps the strongest, argument for the artificial womb is that it will allow all good men to be fathers without subjecting ourselves to exploitation on the part of women. If you ask “what exploitation?”, I refer you to this article:
Now, a bride price would seem superfluous to the experienced reader, given that marriage is already very advantageous to women. We know through both observation and published findings that women of all ages are more sexually receptive to men whom they regard as status boosters, i.e. who can increase their own social status by proxy (see this OkCupid chart, for example). We also know that most women, though some might pretend otherwise, would become resentful of their husbands if said husbands would settle for household chores and leave the women to do the real work (for instance, see this article and this commentary on another article ). We know that men in relationships normally want to make their women happy and to reach consensus with her, but also that women prefer to enter disagreements with their men and lose interest in their men when said men look happy, all of which inevitably leads to a profound imbalance in regards to who actually benefits from the marriage. Why women would charge for something they already benefit from so much baffles the mind.
What’s more, we are bombarded in the media with articles about how marriage is a thing of convenience for women, to be cut off when the woman no longer deems it necessary (regardless of the suffering and the financial loss brought on the husband), and books such as Eat, Pray, Love that encourage women to take on this attitude. Some of us also know that in some countries, particularly in the US, the rest of the Anglosphere and in Europe, the feminist-run divorce courts enslave men to women through alimony and child support when women divorce them for personal convenience. If men fail to pay their betrayers because the divorce courts charged them more money per month than they earned, men go to jail, potentially losing their jobs in the process ; even if they do pay their betrayers, they sometimes find themselves at the mercy of petty tyrants who should not, but nevertheless do, work in the local Child Protection Services. It may not be like that in China, but it certainly leaves me to wonder why any man would pay a bride price at all.
Nevertheless, let’s take a closer look at what this bride price actually consists of. Quoting from the article:
It’s Derek Wei’s big day: his wedding day. He arrives at his bride’s house early in the morning, knocking on the door accompanied by his groomsmen. It’s locked, as tradition demands.
This wedding ritual, called chuangmen has resurfaced recently, along with other traditional practices like demands for a betrothal gift, sometimes known as “bride price.”
“Red packets! Red packets!” shouts the niece of Lucy Wang, the bride, demanding the men stuff red packets full of money through the door.
So, caving in to a girl’s demands, the men stuff red packets full of money through the locked door. At first glance, that’s what the bride price seems to be.
“Not enough!” shouts the head bridesmaid, who wants more money before she’ll open up. The women play along, complaining noisily about Wei’s stinginess. This is the last in a series of financial transactions that accompanies this — and every Chinese — wedding.
It seems that the bride price is not only financial, but psychological; the man must put up with women’s arrogant demands for more and more undeserved wealth.
“It’s like a negotiation,” Wei says. “What do you need to get married? What can I provide? When we reach a deal, we discuss: What does your family want? What does my family have to bargain with?”
Wei, unfortuntately, is a willing victim to this extortion: if he simply became angry with the injustice being flung at him and valued his dignity more than his chances of producing children with the greedy woman beyond the door, he would not allow himself to be subjected to this ordeal.
Minutes tick slowly, and Wei is getting nervous they’ll be late.
“I love you, wife!” he shouts, thumping the door. “Let me in!”
From the other side of the door, his future wife, Lucy Wang, demands a song. He complies, singing a soppy old-time love song to the closed wooden door, along with a groomsman who takes pity on him. The women giggle. But Wang’s demands have been for more than just music.
If the arrogance of the two giggling members of the “fairer sex” surprises you, you do not understand women. A man’s love is irrelevant to the average woman, as she cannot comprehend the abstract value of love; what matters to her, instead, is the mundane value of what this love can provide: red packets and a social status boost.
Wang has an office job in Beijing, she’s from Shanxi province. Wedding customs there demand the groom to give his future in-laws a big betrothal gift, traditionally known as the bride price. Wei handed over 68,888 yuan — an auspicious number — which is more than $11,000.
Wang, however, is not so impressed. “There are lots of coal mine owners where I come from, so they push the prices up,” she explains. “In an ordinary family, the betrothal gift is about $10,000. To be honest, where I’m from, that’s hardly anything.”
As the woman herself states, she is not looking to love someone; she is looking for a large, auspicious number of yuan; men had better toil for long hours and boss other men around in order to get her these yuan, because she is fully prepared to leave them childless otherwise.
Finally, the men lose patience and brace their shoulders against the door, noisily forcing their way into the room with battle cries.
You would think that they have now wisened up and decided to seek justice against the women who had been mocking them moments before. You would think wrong:
Wei is on his knees. It’s the first time he’s seen his wife on their big day: He has a massive grin on his face and a bouquet of pink roses for Wang.
His first thought on hearing of the betrothal gift was pure fear. But his situation is very common. Most young men getting married in China today are expected to fork out, often providing an apartment, sometimes a car and a betrothal gift, too.
The story you have just read is a tragedy and a failure of humanity. To fall on your knees for the beast that has extorted money from you, made spurious demands on you so she could feel “in charge” and laughed at your efforts to please her; this is to supplicate to an abuser. Lucy Wang did not deserve a bouquet of roses in the end. She did not deserve marriage and she did not deserve a man to cater to her selfish whims. What she deserved, I will not discuss here in order to keep this blog family-friendly.
A lot of men are going through the same ordeals, jumping through the same hoops at the behest of women – of petty aristocrats that demand as much as they can while contributing as little as they can get away with. Some of the men, faced with bride prices both explicit and implicit, bow their heads wretchedly and pay the bribe, or try to rationalize their own exploitation and perceive themselves as the “heads of the household” who must provide for their wives. Some, like myself, refuse to be part of this atrocity but nevertheless wish to produce and to love children of our own. All of us would stand to benefit from artificial wombs.
If you want a good argument for why men should have reproductive freedom, remember Lucy Wang, the woman with the red packets. Remember all the women like her, because they make the case for the artificial womb far better than I ever can. After all, I can tell you all about the benefits of artificial wombs to help establish thriving communities (and I will.); I can tell you all about how they stand to protect against frivolous marriage breakdown (and I will.); of how they sort out the problems of paternity fraud, alimony and “child support” (really just more alimony), how they will help people who may not otherwise have children (and I will). But the most important benefit of artificial wombs is that no man will have to go through the ordeal of putting up with the Lucy Wangs of this world.
Inevitably, the number of good women in any city or town is limited. When most of them have been taken, the chances are that you will have to sift through many Lucy Wangs before you find a good woman (if you can find one at all), and by the time you do, you may well become too old to start a family. In China, in particular, there are around 11 men of ages 15 to 24 for every 10 women in this age range, and if you, as a young man, do find a good woman, you essentially leave other marriage-minded men in the position of having to sift through the Lucy Wangs themselves.
The worst possible scenario for such men would not be that they remained childless, lacking a family of their own in their later years, but that they entered a marriage with a woman who, having gone past the age of 30, has found that fewer and fewer men were willing to provide her the red packets she “deserves”; a woman who has decided to “settle” for a far less glamorous kind of marital prostitution than she originally envisioned. For her, this is a compromise; for him, it is most likely a belief that he has found someone who loves him.
No man should be forced to live in this sort of false marriage in order to have children, and in general, no man should be forced to live with an abusive, entitled or adulterous woman of any kind; the artificial womb could well be a way to ensure that such things do not happen. Certainly, we can campaign to defeat the unjust divorce laws and corrupt judges that have tainted the concept of marriage, thus preventing exploitative women from harming us. But there are those of us who would never accept to share their lives with such exploitative women, irrespective of whether the legal system actually gave her the means to exploit us.
Presently, our reproductive choices are as follows. We can sift through the haystack for the limited number of decent unmarried women with whom to start our families, and inevitably deprive other men of such women’s partnership; we can take part in the auctions for the entitlement princesses of the world, trying to compete for social status and thus out-bid all the other men; or we can work towards reproductive freedom for men as a whole, striving for the day when artificial wombs will become legally available to all good men who wish to have a family. Personally, I am keen on the latter choice, as it will allow us all to thrive, irrespective of the kinds of women we are likely to run into. Until we come to that point, however, women such as Lucy Wang will continue to demand their red packets, and men will continue to either finance them or die childless, albeit with their dignity intact.