I May Have a Son, but I’ll Never Know for Sure

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About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website

Comments

  1. Wonderful article, Hugo!
    You told a complex and difficult story in a very honest, humble and fascinating way.
    Your story is a brilliant example of how much “real life” (“Life as it is”) and “imaginary life” (“Life as it should be”) can be so dramatically different. And there’s no amount of “imaginary life” that can mend real life troubles.
    Sometimes there’s no “best choice”… sometimes you can just choose “the lesser evil”, and I think Jill did just that.
    Your article is very good food for thought, if one just suspends the urge to judge (and his/her own projections). Being “moral” and righteous is easy… but the people doing that, are obsessed with their values and forgetting all about the happiness of people involved.
    In the end, Jill’s choice made three people happy, and one (you) at least not oppressed with a burden you couldn’t handle. A fair result, I’d say.
    Obviously, Jill’s choice was morally ambiguous… but what’s the value of truth, when truth can wreak havoc on people’s lives?
    Even if I regard truth as my highest value, I must admit (knowing how fragile human beings are) that sometimes “ignorance is bliss”.

  2. This is not about fatherhood being born out of love, this is fatherhood being born out of lies. I Jill lied to Ted and, even worse, she is lying to her child. Doesn’t she knows that the most damaging thing you can do to a child is lying? and the big problem when relationships are built over lies is that sooner or later when the truth comes out, everything crumbles downs. This wasn’t a decision made thinking about the child’s benefit, this was a decision made to take advatage over one person and it is not right. Also, Hugo says he doesn’t want to disrupt Jill’s life but he publishes this on the internet so everybody will know about it. It is very easy to put things together and someone who might know any of the people involved in this can tell Ted or Alastair. This sitution is a time bomb and the longer it takes for the truth to come out, the bigger the explosion.

  3. Dude if Jill, Ted or Alastair (whatever their real names are) read this article, they’re gonna know, man…

  4. Curiosity drove me to this site and was merely lurking, but this article stood out.

    This situation happens quite often actually, a woman has sex with two guys around the time of conception. One guy is older and well off, the other is enjoying life yet uncertain of his future. She gets pregnant and chooses the stable guy to raise “her” child. Now you can replace the enjoying life guy with another who’s unpopular/average joe/nerdy/low-pay/etc but it fits the mold.

    If I know I may of knocked a woman up, I’d like to know if the baby was mine and not leave it up to uncertainty. Just because a man isn’t making over 50k/yr and living in a big house doesn’t make him ineligible to father a child. Don’t know why women think it’s okay to keep something like this a secret until the kid is old enough, the old canard of “what’s best for the child” is such a lame argument because she’s justifying her lies. It’s only a matter of time before the guilt eats her alive, they always crack.

    And if that marriage dissolves, the child isn’t his, he’s on the hook for child support and possibly alimony.

    But the one that truly suffers from this the most, is the child. We need to break from the age of selfish marriage and bring back honesty and integrity. Make those vows actually mean something for a change.

    Nice article, I’d feel very upset watching (What could be) my child grow up in another household.

    • The notion that the woman is always going to choose the older, more stable partner is old-fashioned at this point. Modern women don’t behave much differently than men in this regard and if latching on to a younger man is possible, I’d argue that it’s just as likely she’ll swing in that direction. Hooking up with a younger man has exactly the same appeal as a younger woman does for us males and the State will support (literally) any choice that any woman makes these days.

  5. truthvscompliance says:

    You should get a “Father of the year” award. HAHA

  6. Get over yourself!

  7. I don’t understand how you can justify tricking another man into believing that a child that may or may not be his is definitely his. You’re a bad person, any way you slice it.

  8. Transhuman says:

    “Do you have any kids?
    No. Not that I know of, anyway.”

    I have always verified I have no children, just in case there was an “oops pregnancy” after a relationship I was in was ended. As for being tricked into paternity, get a DNA test. Bypass the mother’s consent if she’s being obstructive.

  9. It’s a great topic and would have been an even better story if you were raising this child. The notion someone else is paying your debt for perhaps your action or actions and the burden is on the mothers, is silly and naive. You may have been dreaming for the last thirteen years about a child that is not even yours. You made a promise you should have never made and here you are writing stories about it. I’m pretty sure the child got the better deal.

  10. …. At eight weeks I’m betting she knew and now knows exactly who the father is/was and she gave you every opportunity to speak up and stand up…. And you blew it.

    • And she knew this, how? Divine guidance? If she was having sex with two different men of the week during conception, then she could very well have no idea which man is the biological father.

      • But would you say that it then is her ethical responsibility to find out whom of those two is the father? That knowledge is obtainable. It’s just wrong to arbitrarily choose one based on her personal preference of who she would prefer to be the father of the two candidates.
        .

        • That is a tricky question. On the one hand, I am all for fathers having more legal rights in custody battles, and I’m all for men having some sort of opt out option (where they give up both their responsibility and rights) as a parent. If the author disagreed enough with her decision, he should have some form of legal recourse. Also, in an ideal world, people would be freaking responsible about this sort of thing, and they’d discuss what the plan will be if a woman becomes unintentionally pregnant…and they’d have this discussion before ever having sex.

          On the other hand, well in this case the author was complicit in the decision. He could have tried to sue for a paternity test, but he didn’t…so at some level he agreed to it. Also, I don’t place as much importance on biology…like the guy said at the end of this article, it’s love that makes a father.

          • According to you, what was this woman’s responsibility to tell the truth to her child and to the man who she chose to be her child’s father? I think it would take about 2 seconds for a normal person to ask themselves this question after thinking about this conundrum and then see a problem with this woman’s actions.

            It’s really bizarre to me that you seem to be in favor of men having an opt-out, but you haven’t thought about the right that the other man had to learn that he might not even be the father and should definitely get a DNA test. That man has been raising a child for 20 years that might not be his. It would seem to me that the two con artists who are complicit in lying about the baby should have less rights than the person they have been fooling

            • A problem, yes, but not quite the malicious act your comment seems to imply.

              “That man has been raising a child for 20 years that might not be his.”

              Except that now the kid is his. Biology does not make a child yours, or not yours. As I said, ideally everyone would be upfront and honest about this sort of thing before actually having sex. The responsible thing to do is to tell the truth, certainly. But 20 years later, it’s mute.

            • Peter Houlihan says:

              The child is his emotionally, but don’t you think it’s something of a breach of trust to have someone raise a kid that isn’t theirs?

              When it happens (people ending up raising other people’s kids) due to mixups in IVF clinics and maternity wards theres hell to pay, its recognised as having an emotional impact. Shouldn’t the same be true of someone who is duped into thinking a child is biologically theirs when it isn’t?

            • I think it’s a breach of trust, certainly. I also think that it shouldn’t happen, and everyone should be honest about such things, yes. The difference, for my mind, between when it happens at an IVF clinic and when it happens between individuals, is that I think we should hold companies to a higher standard and that we should, as a society, perhaps be more forgiving of individuals who screw up. I’m all for very closely regulating companies…I’m not for closely regulating individuals.

              Keep in mind that I’m coming at this from the exact opposite direction of any straight/bi guy. I will never be a biological parent, if I ever have kids at all. Because, here’s the thing…he was duped into potentially raising a kid he didn’t father. But, he wasn’t duped into spending his life with the woman he loves. He wasn’t duped into having a family her. The two of them built a life…what’s the biology of the kid compared to that? Ya know? And yeah, I guess you could say, if he’d known the kid wasn’t his (biologically) he wouldn’t have stuck with her. And maybe that’s true…and yes he deserved to know. But people make mistakes, and people lie…we can’t start punishing people for the lies they tell.

            • Maybe it’s that lady-logic again. Rewind the tape back to 13-15 years and ago and yourself, what is the mother’s responsibility towards telling the truth to potential fathers of her child? Does it become less important the longer that she keeps lying about it? Or was it never important to tell the truth and let the man accused of being the father get a test and make up his own mind?

              You seem to have absolutely no problem with a woman lying to her man and her child for decades. How would you feel if the child found out later and hated her guts for it? Would you blame the child? How would you feel if the child hated the man who raised him and went to live with his biological dad? What if this woman decides do divorce him and take the kid away to live with yet another man? What use is it, then, for this man to have raised another man’s child for 13-15 years?

              These are people’s lives that we’re talking about, and the ones which matter the most are not the train wrecks sorry excuses for human beings. How is it your decision, or any other woman’s decision, to keep the truth from their children and from their fathers?

              Except that now the kid is his. Biology does not make a child yours, or not yours.

              Had this man knowingly made the decision to be a father to this child, then it would be his. Let’s do a thought experiment. If you rear-end another car in traffic, then you give your insurance to the other driver and pay for the damages, right? But how would you feel if it turned out that your collision didn’t even put so much as a scratch on the other person’s car and the damage that was there was pre-existing? Would you be happy to take responsibility for it?

            • “Maybe it’s that lady-logic again.”

              Woah. Way to shut the conversation down.

            • You had already shut it down a while ago, to be perfectly fair. The kind of blatant excuse-making is unnerving. Do you not realize that men read this? As in, people who have to in turn trust women to do the right thing? If a sizable portion of women think that it’s “no big deal” to lie to men about being a father, then women simply shouldn’t be trusted and their reasoning is faulted. This fits the term “lady-logic” perfectly, as it is only women who are able to get pregnant and lie to fathers about the baby.

  11. Adam Thomas says:

    I feel really sorry for the guy. Revealing the truth would destroy him now, but this should never have happened in the first place. I don’t think that this is a “wonderful article” at all, it’s evil.

  12. This is soo evil article. I mean the woman was lying to Ted all the time — she was into serious relationship with him while at the same time sleeping with other guy. She lied to him probably, simply by not revealing that the child would not be his. If he will ever find out, it would probably destroy his life. The cuckoldry is one of the greatest fears males face. Pretending that it’s ok to lie to Ted is a female equivalent to saying that it is OK to rape drunken girls. It is NOT OK. I’m shocked that anyone would think it is OK.

    The biology does not make father. The __conscious__ decision does make a father. If the child is not Ted’s, then if would be OK if he would made a concious decision to be a father to a children, which is not biologically his. And it would be OK. But it seems that someone made the decision for Ted. And the worst thing is that seemingly none see how terribly wrong it is.

  13. This entire article is nothing more than papering over a despicable act with Dr. Phil style nonsense. It is Ted who is raising this kid, it is Ted who is devoting his time, love and resources to this kid, not Hugo, and so it is Ted who deserves to know his biological relation to this kid. I happen to share Hugo’s opinion, I don’t think my lack of a biological relation to the children I may raise would be important to me. I also happen to understand that many men may feel differently about this myself. I understand that a man who discovered that he has been deceived into raising another man’s child, might very well come to view that child as a product of his partner’s betrayal. I understand that this transformation of what he thought to be his child, his flesh and blood, his toil and joy, and his relationship with his partner into one forged in his betrayal and continued in his partner’s cowardice and his ignorance, would likely be utterly devastating to him and may be unshakable. I also understand that when it comes to the matter of Ted’s fatherhood, it is Ted’s opinion that counts, not mine, not Hugo’s, not Jill’s, not anyone else’s. What Hugo and Jill have done is despicable, Jill has sexually betrayed Ted (i.e. cheating) and both of them have deceived Ted as to this and to the status of his supposed progeny, and in so doing potentially placed Ted’s wellbeing, marriage and relationship with his son in serious jeopardy. No amount of feel good casuistry will undue the fact that what Jill and Hugo have done to Ted was and is enormously deceitful and incredibly callous, considering the very possible aforementioned consequences for Ted as well as Alastair. What Jill and Hugo have done and continue to do to Ted is despicable and doesn’t matter whether or not either of them agrees because neither of them is Ted.

  14. I firmly believe that, in order for Hugo to have deceived Ted the way he did, and to continue to believe that what he did was perfectly OK, there must be some serious physical brain damage present. Hugo’s brain has something physically, pathologically wrong with it such that much of Hugo’s dysfunctional attitude and behavior can exist in the first place. That said, I have absolutely no sympathy for him because he has hurt more people than the other way around. We can only hope that his life will be chronologically shortened as a result of this brain damage which will never be addressed. Of course, I, too, share the dream of his children rebelling against him.

    • Whatever happened to just calling someone an asshole or condemning their actions? Why must everything be some armchair diagnosis? He’s a sociopath, she’s mentally unstable, he has some damage to his brain. Oh really, is that your professional, medical opinion? I don’t know if and what is wrong with Hugo’s brain, because I’m not a neuroscientist, and I don’t have any information about Hugo’s brain. It’s also not required. I’m not going to judge a person’s moral character based on their schizophrenia or their psychopathy any more than I would judge them on their diabetes. I would also argue that it’s immoral to do so, just look at the history of society’s treatment of the mentally ill. However, what I am going to judge a person on is their actions and intentions, and Hugo’s actions and intentions are consistent with those of an asshole, therefore I deem him to be one. No armchair psychology required, no Dr. Phil style sophistry, no diagnosis of mental illness and subsequent condemnation for being mentally ill. You need not pretend to know things you don’t know in order to make moral assessments.

      • Easy there, Al, I’m on YOUR side. I, too, think that Hugo is an asshole, and his behavior certainly reflects that. I just wanted to add the extra suggested stigma of brain damage as a further means of discrediting him from functional society. Your mileage may differ.

        Another point I’d like to bring up, is that back in 2006, I posted on one of his blogs about my (failed) attraction to younger women (which he criticizes to no end), and he had no sympathy for me. Another man came to my defense and called Hugo an asshole for showing no compassion. Hugo responded by saying,

        “Martin, if being curtly dismissive of those whose erotic attraction leads them only to younger women and excludes their peers makes me an asshole in your eyes, then I wear that sobriquet with pride.”

        In other words, Hugo is PROUD to be an asshole. How can you insult, or tear a man down, when he has pride in the name you call him? If calling Hugo a “loaf of bread” (or calling him brain-damaged) would more easily offend him, I would do it every day and with a song in my heart.
        And let me go on the record and say that NOBODY hates Hugo more than I do.

        • I don’t fault you for your intentions, after all it’s hard to fault someone for agreeing with you. But here is the problem: “I just wanted to add the extra suggested stigma of brain damage as a further means of discrediting him from functional society.” Now, I’de imagine your not in support of the stigmatization of the mentally ill, rather this was just your colorful way of calling Hugo an asshole. So what’s my problem with this? Well in discussions of morality and moral condemnation, emotions tend to run high, and people tend to make fast, reactionary moral condemnations and through around charges and suggest punishments at whim. What people don’t tend to do is look at the facts and construct a calm, rational assessment of the situation. All of this leads to all sorts of moral illusions, best exemplified by this Dr. Phil/armchair psychology/appeal to emotions babble so common in contemporary discourse on anything that involves morality, we see present in Hugo’s piece. Hugo constructs the moral illusion that because something should not be important it therefore isn’t, and furthermore that this somehow remits himself and possibly Jill for years of deceit of and a callous lack of consideration for Ted. All of this enabled by this poor style of thinking.

          I think you are not seeing the big picture, because your comments seem to reveal this same style of thinking. I would argue that your illusion is that it is ok to diagnose (with no knowledge) and stigmatize someone for being brain damaged because that person has done something morally reprehensible, even if it was never your intention to stigmatize the mentally ill. Take a moment to reflect on this. You will probably come to the conclusion that it isn’t ok to stigmatize people for being brain damaged, even if they have done something wrong, or to associate immorality or insult with being brain damaged, or that your intentions somehow negate what someone with a mental illness might ascertain from your comments.

          The big, pervasive problem with this article isn’t Hugo and Jill’s action, although they were/are immoral, its the style of thinking it perpetuates. The kind of “reasoning” that makes logic and facts amenable to emotion, armchair psychology and positive sentiments. The savage treatment of our fellow man doesn’t come as a black pustule of wanton desire to cause harm for the sake of causing harm, it comes to us as the warm, fuzzy glow of emotional “reasoning”, the pretense of knowing how people think and what is in their best interests, the seductive voice of post hoc rationalization, moral righteousness, righteous indignation and the need for retribution. It is important that what you think is moral actually is, that what moral actions you take actually are, and these things are more important than your intentions and your emotions. Many people seem to have inverted this notion, as Hugo demonstrates, and neither of us should so readily assume that we haven’t either.

  15. So you’re endorsing cuckolding? You sick man.

  16. What ever happened to not screwing around? Chastity, FTW!

  17. I agree with Hugo here. Just because you’re not the biological parent does not mean that you’re not the real parent.

    A woman who lies about paternity in order to secure the husband she wants is not “wrong”, because the husband she chooses, regardless if he is the father, can still learn to love the child.

    And it goes both ways.

    Say I have an affair with my secretary at work and get her pregnant. I ultimately wind up with custody of the child. What kind of wife, or woman, would divorce me or refuse to raise the child, just because she wasn’t the biological mother?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Project column runs one day early this week, and it’s turned out to be a controversial one: I May Have a Son, But I’ll Never Know for Sure. It’s a true story I tell, one I’ve not written about before. I had wanted to write a [...]

  2. [...] just read a really traumatizing story at Good Men Project. The narrator tells us that he might have had a son with a woman he dated casually a while ago, but [...]

  3. [...] 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 [...]

  4. [...] just recently read an article from the “good men” project written by Hugo Schwyzer entitled; I may have a son, but I’ll [...]

  5. [...] Monday, Jezebel republished Hugo Schwyzer’s piece, “I May Have a Son, but I’ll Never Know for Sure.” As always, their commenters produced some quality, thoughtful, and insightful stuff. They [...]

  6. [...] the comments below my last two posts (based on my “13 year-old son?” piece from Monday) seem hostile, you should see the ones that were deleted in the moderation queue. The [...]

  7. [...] morning longtime reader GudEnuf tipped me off to a piece that feminist apologist Hugo Schwyzer wrote for The Good Men Project, which has been reprinted at Jezebel. Many other bloggers will be [...]

  8. [...] to bed early” was interrupted by her link to a post by feminist writer Hugo Schwyzer titled “I May Have a Son, But I’ll Never Know for Sure”.  Susan covers the story well and Paul Elam hits some other notes that I’ll reiterate.  [...]

  9. [...] ballistic (many were longer than my essay), but at least no one said “I hate you,” like they did to Hugo. [...]

  10. [...] morning longtime reader GudEnuf tipped me off to a piece that feminist apologist Hugo Schwyzer wrote for The Good Men Project, which has been reprinted at Jezebel. Many other bloggers will be [...]

  11. [...] Note: Hugo Schwyzer’s piece “I May Have a Son, but I’ll Never Know for Sure“, a version of which was printed on Jezebel, and   and excerpted Hugo’s own blog, [...]

  12. [...] Dude I totally just stole Schwyzer’s thunder on his ending also. Guess I owe him a drink. Sauce: Good Men Project [...]

  13. [...] been an interesting week, as the original story I wrote about a boy who might or might not be my biological child caused a minor kerfuffle in the blogosphere. My friend Katie sent me a text Monday night, saying [...]

  14. [...] Hugo Schwyzer —In a medium-sized city in the Midwest, there’s a boy who will turn 13 next month. He lives with his parents, who were wed three months before he was born. He is tall, with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. his name is Alastair*, and he may –- or may not -– be my son. More on that in a moment. [...]

  15. [...] feminist and male apologist Hugo Schwyzer recently let the blogosphere know that he had been party to a potential fraud involving the paternity of a child. The story goes like [...]

  16. [...] I May Have a Son, but I’ll Never know for Sure [...]

  17. [...] Hugo Schwayzer’s post  about his potential paternity to a 13-year-old-boy really brought me back to thinking about my dear old dad.  This quote in particular got to me: “The solution is to remember that it is love, not sperm, that makes a great dad.” [...]

  18. [...] that men never have problems and are always the cause of women’s problems. He talks about cuckolding another man and sees nothing wrong with his actions. Seems like he’s had his fun with the [...]

  19. [...] however, is not Schwyzer’s forté. In an article that enraged many an MRA, he argued that it doesn’t really matter whose kid you’re bringing up — “…it is love, not sperm, that makes a great dad.” In the article he [...]

  20. [...] enduring monogamous relationships (if they want them) when they’re older.   …I do regret the pain I caused other people. Rightly so. But what my life has taught me is that insight and compassion are rooted in [...]

  21. [...] father” and use him to provide your children with a better environment to grow up. (See Hugo Schwyzer, a feminist and a (former?) player who justify such behavior.) 3. If you are high status and have [...]

  22. [...] a case for more men being involved in the contraception questions, I don’t know what does.” I May Have a Son, but I’ll Never Know for Sure By Hugo [...]

  23. [...] I May Have a Son, but I’ll Never Know for Sure [...]

  24. [...] has already gone on record endorsing cuckolding and other ridiculous notions, so I’ve truly come to expect madness from him. What came about this [...]

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