By Lisa J. Sharon

Like the intrepid Dudley Do Right, the Ohio legislature has once again jumped in to save women from themselves. Adding to the apparently insufficiently paternalistic laws governing the discussions between a woman and her caregivers, and requiring a 24-hour waiting period between the decision that she has already agonized over and the actual procedure, the new abortion laws require that the woman be offered an ultrasound view of the fetus and an opportunity to listen to the heartbeat.

These measures, attached like a barnacle to the ship of the budget bill, will go a long way to helping those irrational souls.

But this bill does not go far enough. It is well and good to protect women, but who is protecting the men? [blocktext align=”left”]I propose that the Ohio legislature pass a law requiring that before a man can have sex with a woman, he must take a 24-hour ‘cooling off’ period[/blocktext]It has been proven time and again that men, in the moment of sexual arousal, have inadequate access to their faculties of higher reasoning. Is there no one in the legislature willing to take on this failure in our legal system? How are they to know how to behave, what to say and do?

To redress this oversight, I suggest the following simple idea. I propose that the Ohio legislature pass a law requiring that before a man can have sex with a woman, he must take a 24-hour “cooling off” period to consider the potential consequences of his actions. During this period, he should be offered the opportunity to discuss all the ramifications of the sex act with a medical or religious professional. He should be given a questionnaire inquiring into his mental and financial health. He should be shown graphic pictures of a penis infected with sexually transmitted diseases and receive information from a medical professional about the possibility of death resulting from HIV infection or insanity resulting from infection with syphilis.

I suggest this with men’s best interests in mind. Men often make the decision to have sex with less consideration and thought for the future than they apply to other less consequential decisions such as which beer to buy or whether to wear their blue power tie or striped yellow tie to the office meeting. But sex is not an inconsequential matter. It can be a life-and-death decision. Is it unreasonable, therefore, to require that the decision be accompanied by thoughtful reflection?

In addition to the physical risks men take when they have sex, sex can also lead to a number of undesirable social and psychological after-effects, from which it is society’s duty to protect men. [blocktext align=”right”]President Clinton could have spared the country a costly impeachment action had he consulted with his wife or secretary of state before entering into a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. [/blocktext]This may be illustrated with a few examples. Think, for instance, of the 17-year-old football jock who impresses his friends with his sexual conquest but contracts herpes; the man in the smoke-filled bar who meets an ugly woman who takes unfair advantage of his alcohol-blurred eyes to appear attractive; the husband going through mid-life crisis who alienates his wife and children by having an affair with the twenty-year-old baby-sitter; the state governor who leaves his citizens ungoverned while he disappears to “hike the Appalachian Trail.” President Clinton could have spared the country a divisive, distracting and costly impeachment action had he only stopped to consider the consequences, perhaps consulted with his wife or secretary of state, before entering into a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. These and so many other instances of the negative consequences of sexual carelessness could be avoided by a mandatory waiting period in which the man is able to reflect in tranquility or consult with cooler and wiser heads.

Society would be well-served to take a maternal approach to male sexual conduct, for popular culture can only lead men astray. From childhood, men are barraged with films and music that encourage sex early and often. Cultural norms pressure men (and boys) to prove their very manhood by sexual conquest and the fathering of children. Society, in fact, does a great disservice to men in defining their male identity by the yardstick of sexual activity. On the other hand, notwithstanding the term “pro-abortion” as used by opponents of abortion rights to describe those in favor of a woman’s choice, there is little societal pressure to have an abortion.  Therefore, society has a much greater obligation to correct that harm to men than it has to protect women from their own judgment.

The law I propose would have the positive effects of fewer divorces, fewer children in single-parent homes, fewer abortions, decreased spread of disease, less heartache and more honor in our society. Moreover, the men themselves would benefit both from the knowledge of having done the right thing in the eyes of the community and in avoiding all of the potential problems inherent in entering into sexual relationships without thoughtful consideration. Therefore, I send a message out to the Ohio legislature to direct its attention to those in need and protect men from sexual folly. After all, men are such silly creatures.

Lisa J. Sharon writes a blog for a non-profit legal organization. She has had short stories published in Painted Bride Quarterly, Kestrel and Whiskey Island Magazine, among others.