I watched Exposed on ABC - the documentary investigating the case of Keli Lane, and I have some thoughts.
Yes, the case was poorly investigated, and yes it was sexist. I don’t know what happened to baby Tegan. But here is my thinking. No man has ever been in a position that Keli Lane found herself in numerous times. She fell pregnant when she didn’t want to have babies, and has been criticised for not managing her fertility. She did not create these babies alone; they were the result of men not managing their own fertility. Each pregnancy could have been avoided with the use of condoms.
Women manage their fertility all through their fertile years which encompass about thirty years of their lives. Most women would use a variety of contraceptive methods, and at various times in their lives experience some combination of an abortion, miscarriage, giving a child away for adoption, experience live birth, stillbirth, IVF, and may adopt or foster a child.
Women are thinking of their fertility every time they bleed each month. Women may not speak to many men about how they control their fertility, so it seems that men don’t see the work that it involves.
In contrast men can impregnate women and not even know.
In the argument against Keli Lane’s defence that she gave baby Tegan to the child’s biological father many people said they found such a scenario unbelievable. Why? It is not at all unusual for women to raise a child alone. It is not at all unusual for a woman to have a child with a man who then leaves. It is not at all unusual for men to not contribute financially, or in any care role, for a child he helped create. If a woman can raise a child without a partner, why can’t a man? Surely in a world where men hold most of the positions of power, a man can raise a child. Of course he can. A man is just as capable of learning care work as a woman is. The assumption is, why would any man want to? And the response to that question should lead us to a major revision of the structural impediments to the experience of raising children and of care work.