I’m not a feminist; nor am I whatever the antonym of a feminist is. I am just a person who believes in equality, and I shall not rest until men have equal access to contraception!
In the whole debate over women’s “reproductive health”, and “rights to privacy”, and all the other PC labels that rights’ groups have thrown on the issue surrounding what to do when a woman gets pregnant, I think they have missed out on the obvious: That a woman’s health is never in jeopardy (since pregnancy in these circles is a detrimental medical condition) until she comes into contact with (or infected by) a man. Would it then not make sense to disarm the host of his deadly disease…that disease being his sperm?
I was watching Downton Abbey last week, which is my second favorite show on television right now. Fellow viewers might remember when Carson, the head butler at Downton, uttered a string of words that were so hateful and unfeeling, you couldn’t help but wince. An army Major that was recovering at the home ended up impregnating one of the maids who relentlessly hounded him for his affections. They were discovered having sex and she was immediately dismissed, only to discover weeks later that she was carrying his child. He being a cad, would have nothing to do with her once he discovered she was with child and left her to fend for herself. When Carson became privy to these events, he scolded her in absentia by saying “Men will always be men, but she could have avoided the whole unhappy affair by simply using one word: ‘No’.”
I was aghast! But then, those were the times, weren’t they? It was a woman’s duty to preserve her honor, never mind that it was also a man’s presumed right to pursue sex from whomever he desired at the time he desired it. How is that supposed to work in the real world? That makes about as much sense as a zebra running for governor.
But have things really changed so much from the early 19th century? It seems to me they have changed very little. When we place the burden of sexual responsibility and protection purely on the shoulders of women by offering them a pill, a shot, a gel and a whole range of preventative measures without expanding those services to men, what does that say? That although a woman now has the choice to say “yes” to sex with whomever she pleases, the responsibility of an unintended pregnancy is still largely her problem, not a man’s. And this does nothing but perpetuate a system that absolves men of their responsibility as potential fathers!
Outside of condom use, there should as many options for contraception for men as there are available to women. If a man is on the prowl for a short term fling, as many are wont to be, he ought to wake up in the morning, brush his teeth and reach for his birth control pill just as his 20-something female counterpart is likely doing in the apartment down the road.
Every 10 minutes, he ought to have his sports broadcast interrupted with commercials featuring a gaggle of burly men in a bar, chuckling over the latest offering from a ubiquitous pharmaceutical company peddling “the newest, most effective” birth control on the market. Maybe we’ll call it Pena-ring. To gain the viewing man’s trust, the advertisers will have all the guy pals promptly leave their table and hit the dance floor surrounded by a bevy of women. Someone’s getting lucky tonight, but by God no one’s getting pregnant; not while THEY’RE on the pill.
You know what else? A man ought to have the same opportunity to see one of his best guy friends die after taking a dose of Depo-Provera – like I did – which side effects include blood clots and strokes. You want to talk about a health issue? Nothing is more detrimental to your health than being dead. But hey! At least no one is pregnant. In that regard, Depo-Provera did what it was supposed to do.
No, no my friends. Contraception is not a women’s right’s issue. That’s bull. If all women were lesbians there’d be no need for a birth control pill…ever. It’s time for true equality in this area. After all, what is good for the goose is just as good for the gander. It’s time for men to step up and take a more active role in pregnancy prevention, particularly if they know in their hearts that they have no intention of supporting either the mother or the child at the end of that unintended pregnancy.