Black Women's Empowerment

“Have My Baby?” What You Need to Know About Reproductive Coercion

Portrait Of Worried Young Couple Holding Pregnancy Tester

When you think about someone in a relationship trapping their partner into a pregnancy, we often think it’s a desperate woman trying to cling to her man by any means necessary. Either she hopes he will stay out of obligation, or if that is out of the question, she does it to retain some piece of him, coupled with a little bundle to love her unconditionally. We rarely talk about how MEN attempt to trap women into pregnancy for their own ends–either through guilt, bullying or outright sabotage. There’s even a name for it: Reproductive coercion.

Today from the Huffington Post:

Reproductive coercion is a specific type of intimate partner violence in which one partner forces unprotected sex in order to increase the chances that the other partner will get pregnant against her will.

Defining this kind of abuse is important for both healthcare providers and women, explained Heather McCauley, a social epidemiologist and an assistant professor of human development at Michigan State University, who studies the phenomenon.

Reproductively coercive acts include threatening to leave unless the woman becomes pregnant, threatening to have a baby with someone else if she doesn’t comply, physically abusing a woman because she does not agree to pregnancy and tampering with birth control to deliberately cause pregnancy. Forcing a woman to either carry a pregnancy to term or have an abortion against her wishes also constitutes reproductive coercion.

Birth control tampering and pregnancy coercion, in particular, is the focus of McCauley’s latest research.

“The thing about reproductive coercion is that many women still don’t recognize this behavior as abuse,” McCauley said. “If you were to ask them if they experienced abuse or coercion in their relationship, they would probably say no.” Read more here.

Quiet as it’s kept, I believe reproductive coercion runs rampant in the black community. I’ve heard horror stories of men deliberately impregnating young women who have bright futures ahead of them to sully them and “knock down their stock” in the dating and mating world. I once had a neighbor, Emily, who was a beautiful biracial school teacher raising her son alone. After we got close, I asked her what happened with his father, who did little in terms of showing any interested in his son or fatherhood. She said when they were together and having some problems, her then-boyfriend poked holes in condoms without her knowledge, until she became pregnant. He thought that the child would shackle her to him, but once her realized she was no longer interested in a relationship, he showed little to no interested in the child he forced upon Emily. What’s more, that little boy knew his father didn’t want much to do with him, and even at six years old, I could see the anger brewing in his heart–for his father and his mother. Again, ladies–children of single mothers often blame the parent who stayed, regardless of the circumstances. One only need to tip toe through the bowels of You Tube, where the troglodytes of the He Man Black Women Haters Club dwell to drive the point home.

Beautiful pregnant young black woman smiling

Emily would forever be the parent having to put her son’s needs ahead of hers, and take into account any future romantic relationship she would have, and despite how beautiful, smart, friendly and loving she was, any man would have to consider her as a “package” with a brooding little boy he’d have to take on, and let’s face it–there would be some totally not interested. Her ex, however, is free to trap more promising young women and seek to control them through their wombs with little consequences.

If you’re in a relationship with a man, regardless of his race, who is berating you to have a child that’s not included in your plans, especially without benefit of permanent commitment like marriage, I suggest you run for the hills as fast as you can–especially if you’ve got more going for yourself than he does. In fact, no single man should be “asking” you to have his baby if he’s not financially and psychologically ready. Stop giving these idiots sleeping on their sister’s couch immortality. They don’t deserve it, and you deserve better.

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