It’s been a few weeks since the Webb story broke now. Potted history for those of you who missed the woeful tale is as follows: Webb’s wife revealed in an argument the daughter he’d raised until she was 17 wasn’t actually his. After a paternity test confirmed it, Webb wigged out, cut the daughter out of his life and started legal action against the mother and her lover seeking damages for paternity fraud. I first clocked this when watching the ‘Wright Stuff’, a programme that is at least more interesting than other daytime offerings such as Cash in the Attic. (What is so great about watching stupid people rooting around their council flats desperately trying to find some shit to sell at auction so that Chesny can have his first sovereign ring?)
A panel of ‘experts’ including Anne ‘gastric band’ Diamond, Janet Street ‘face-like-a-railway’ Porter and some sanctimonious horse faced doctor called David, debated the case. They all thought Webb was despicable for disowning the girl and then dragging her into a long and arduous court case. But really how else could somebody react? JSP even went as far as to suggest that the woman’s actions were okay and quite justified especially if the lover didn’t want to raise the child. I think the point here is simply about choice, by making the decision to lie Webb’s wife stole Webb’s ability to make a choice at the beginning. Instead, 17 years of a man’s life are found to be a complete lie. Should he just sit there and take it?
Primarily this is a story about consequences and facing up to them. Whilst it doesn’t detract from this specific case I will say that when it comes to owning up to paternal responsibility men can be pretty shit. But that is another blog piece.
Let’s look at what else has been potentially taken from Webb. Breeding is a strong biological imperative for most guys and he now finds himself in the position of not being a biological father, so unless he manages to have kids again age 47 (more likely 57 by the time he’s able to trust somebody again) then his genes end with him. Seventeen years of financially supporting a ‘loving’ wife and daughter, all the memories, the good times, are all based on a fiction that was deliberately engineered. If it was a mistake on her part, if she’d owned up to the cheating and then honestly believed the child was Webb’s, that would change things. But his wife knew and actively created the deception. I do not agree with the disowning of the daughter in the slightest – but it’s very easy for me to say that, as it isn’t happening to me.
The occurrence appears to be rather more prevalent than people might think. The statistic used on the ‘Wright Stuff’ suggested that one-in-ten children are in the same boat (including prince Harry?). To put that into context according to our beleaguered government’s office of national stats we have 12.2m children in the country, meaning that somebody else is raising 1,220,000 children. That does seem very high and there is no way of knowing how many of those are actually cuckoo children as I assume this number would include adoptions and men who have married women with children.
Girls, I’m curious – if you found yourself in this situation what would you do? The women I’ve asked about it seem to think that while lying was regrettable if they found themselves pregnant by another man while in a relationship they might do the same thing with the main driver being survival and, not wanting to lose the security of a marriage with a baby on the way. Survival is an interesting point because I’d say that Webb’s actions fall loosely under the same umbrella. When faced with a crisis we often drop into fight or flight mode (the 3rd option people forget is ‘freeze’ roll over and get a good kicking) and act oddly as a result. If I was faced with this situation, I’m pretty sure I’d flee first and then fight second and justifiably I’d be very angry. And Guys, what about you? Fight, freeze or flight?