Sexist pet peeve: the persistent myth that women are all privately obsessed with producing tiny widdle babies. Working to debunk that assumption is a recent National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy study [PDF] which surveyed thousands of young Americans, aged 18 to 29, about their thoughts and perceptions about pregnancy. Guess which group is more likely to be “pleased” at an unplanned pregnancy? It’s not the one with the silently weeping ovaries.
In order to gauge the “surprise fetus” reaction, NCPTUP researchers first isolated survey respondents who claimed it was “very important or somewhat important for them to avoid pregnancy right now.” Then, researchers asked them how they would feel about an unplanned pregnancy:
If you found out today that (you were/your partner was) pregnant, how would you feel: Very upset, a little upset, a little pleased, very pleased, wouldn’t care.
Results: Staggeringly gendered! Forty-three percent of young men responded that they would be “a little pleased” or “very pleased” by the news; only 20 percent of women answered the same. Men also proved more comfortable with an unplanned pregnancy at an earlier age: Thirty-four percent of men 18-19 said they would be pleased. By the time they reach age 20-24, 42 percent of men said they would be pleased. And over 50 percent of men aged 25-29 would be pleased by the news. Remember: this is only among men who deemed it “important” that a pregnancy not occur at this junction.
Meanwhile, the percentage of women who would be “pleased” by an unplanned pregnancy stays steady at a low 16 percent all the way from age 18 to 24. By the time women reach the 25-29 age range, the percentage of “pleased” women soars to 29 percent. Despite the jump, women in their late 20s still lag behind their male counterparts by 22 percentage points. I don’t know: Perhaps our joy is muted by the fact that unexpected pregnancies tend to put us ladies out a touch.
So, politely, what the fuck is going on? How many women out there are having sex under the assumption that their male partners are invested in teaming up to prevent pregnancy, only to discover that the guys are privately ecstatic about the idea? And could it happen to me? After all, my boyfriend falls into the Pleased By Surprise Fetus Danger Zone of age 25-29. Better safe than sorry:
me: Hey, would you agree that it’s very important or somewhat important for us to avoid pregnancy right now?
me: Don’t worry, it’s a theoretical question.
him: Christ. Very.
me: If you found out today that I was pregnant, how would you feel: Very upset, a little upset, a little pleased, very pleased, wouldn’t care?
him: Hmm. Wouldnt care. I guess.
me: Just so you know, over half of men in your age range would be pleased or very pleased, even though they say it is important for them to not cause a pregnancy right now.
him: Oh, I would never have picked those.
Whew. I never thought I would register my boyfriend “not caring” about me getting pregnant as a small victory, but I’ll take what I can get.