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For the past few weeks the social media scene has been buzzing with the news of an innovation in birth control – that is, male birth control.  Not a pill, but an outpatient procedure that involves an injection into the vans deferens which is brief, extremely inexpensive, and reversible.  This birth control was developed abroad and is being found in markets in India, but has not and probably will not reach markets in the United States.  Click the link below for the original article I read:

http://techcitement.com/culture/the-best-birth-control-in-the-world-is-for-men/#.T3CrGdXuD_0

Why haven’t we seen these kinds of developments in our country?  We have, based on past experiences with birth control, made an observation and an inference.  Due to gender roles that determine what “men ought to do” vs. what “women ought to do,” men will probably never assume the responsibility to prevent conception, or at least not without a difficult adjustment period.  In fact, according to an article in the Huffington Post, the only funding this new male birth control may receive is if the technology can be altered and used in women’s fallopian tubes since it is apparently the women’s job to receive and pay for long term birth control, and the actions of these various organizations support this suspicion.  If you don’t buy it, read up:

Male birth control: Why it may never catch on

The use of intrauterine devices among our own social circle as a method of long term birth control has gotten increasingly popular over the past year – we personally know four women who have received IUDs recently and more are considering it.  The uninsured cost of a basic Mirena IUD costs almost $900 and a lot of clinics don’t offer payment plans.  I personally had to pay the full price as my insurance refused to cover the costs and I had to borrow the money from my family.  In past years, my insurance also stopped covering the cost of the pill.  The women of this movement have spent thousands in birth control and have received no thanks for our efforts.  Men are never expected to assume the financial responsibility of any birth control besides purchasing condoms, and even that they have protested before as it makes them “uncomfortable.”  Is it acceptable that a man allows the women in his life to pay in full the cost of long term birth control when they too benefit from it?

Of course not.  Here is an excerpt from a blog I wrote months ago on the subject:

It’s easy for men with no fear of this hardship to not care about this, or even to support the suppression of woman’s sexual rights. Men are JUST AS GUILTY in the conception (and, by extension, termination) unwanted pregnancies. It takes two to tango, people. And yet, men who engage in sexual activity aren’t expected pay for costs such as the pill or IUDs… People have been pumped full of guilt regarding the “prevention of life taking place” by making contraceptives inexpensive and accessible, but how many of these young, opinionated men can HONESTLY say they have never engaged in premarital sex? Not even once? So it’s permissible for them to [benefit from] the use contraceptives, to put their partner at risk for pregnancy, but if she then terminates the pregnancy, she’s a heathen? Or a dirty liberal hippie? Or a slut? Or selfish? …Why is it selfish to prevent pregnancies until a woman is financially, socially, and emotionally capable to provide her children with the best kind of life they can have? [2011]

Just think this through, fellas:

The new male birth control costs less than ten dollars, is reversible, and can last up to ten years.  It involves a simple injection into the scrotum that the patient can walk away from and does not effect sexual performance.

An IUD costs around $800-$1000 without insurance and involves opening the women’s cervix with a hook and forcibly placing a long straw into the women’s uterus while she is awake and not sedated.  The IUD, a plastic device shaped like the letter “T,” is inserted through the straw and into the uterus where the arms of the “T” are aligned with the connections to the fallopian tubes.  The patient is often bedridden for the rest of the day.  The process involves bleeding, low blood pressure, and extreme pain.  The pain lasts for days after and returns during every menstrual cycle.  The numerous potential side effects can result in surgery or infertility and the IUD itself only lasts five years.

However, none of this matters, as it’s the women’s job to keep herself from getting pregnant, right guys?

What this says to us is that men and women are still, even after all this time, falling into predetermined gender roles and are still struggling to break out of them.  In the past, women were expected to be mothers and wives, to create lives and then nurture them, and nothing else.  Women are still expected to do this, but in the world of premarital sex and contraception, women are expected to pay for and receive long term birth control, as this is not “the man’s job.”  Men will protest the purchase or even utilization of condoms, the most basic birth control form.  This makes the prevention of life also the women’s role.  With this duality of what women are supposed to do, it’s not wonder that women are so conflicted regarding sexuality and birth control rights.

If a woman is attacked and raped while walking alone at night, or while enjoying herself at a party, one of the first things we’ll hear is that she brought it upon herself by walking alone in the first place, or that she asked for it by wearing such a provocative outfit.  Ergo, it is also the women’s job to keep herself from getting raped, instead of it being the man’s job to refrain from raping people.

If somehow a woman gets pregnant, it is assumed that she must put her life on hold and raise her children.  A women who does not have custody of her kids is considered irresponsible and a bad mother, but a single mother with custody of her kids is still judged by society for being an irresponsible wanton woman.  A single father is rare and therefore a hero.  An unmarried father without custody of his kids is common and unremarkable to others.  Therefore it is the women’s role to raise her kids, and it is the women’s role to be the pariah in a failed relationship.

A woman, according to The Ugly Truth, has to be the librarian and the stripper to be desirable.

An unmarried, working woman is considered cold and unlovable, but an unmarreed, working man is successful, driven, and an eligible bachelor.

A woman who gets married and stays at home with the kids is admonished by the hardcore feminists, but an woman who gets married, has kids, yet keeps her career alive is scolded by the neighborhood carpool for being a bad, absent mother.

What is a woman’s role?  The giver and preventer of life, at the same time?  The librarian and the stripper, the good mother and the sellout?  The independent businesswoman and the ice queen?  The lover and the slut?

A step in the right direction would be to stop assuming that men and women have roles, and start looking at people as individuals first and men and women secondly.  If only the lawmakers could do the same…

Men, if care about your partner, you are responsible and not too proud to prevent pregnancy yourself, please visit Jezebel online and sign the pledge to utilize any form of male birth control once it becomes available.  http://www.howaboutwe.com/date-report/male-birth-control-pledge/#

“’So now that we don’t have different clothes,’ I say, ‘you merely have different women.’ This is irony, but he doesn’t acknowledge it.”

-Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

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