Culture · Her Views · Relationships · Science Says So

update on male birth control

Researchers hail recent “Scientific Advances on Contraceptive for Men,” though they’re still not quite sure they meet the “stringent safety and effectiveness criteria that female methods do.” Also, they’re still not sure men will actually use them. Hmm. Now why do you suppose that is?

Let’s review. Women used to have relationship power. Back in the day, a man had to court a woman, make known his intentions, and stake his reputation on marriage for the privilege of a woman’s romantic favors. Now, men can have sex with any or every woman they choose. Wait… why is that? Oh yes, because women were liberated in the 60s. We were freed from the onerous burden of a man’s commitment. (Yeah, who needs that?)

Supposedly, birth control aided our liberation. Now both men and women could have all the uncommitted sex they wanted without worrying about the possibility of creating children together. Except that, in the case of an unexpected pregnancy, only one person in the relationship was pregnant. To see it one way, now men didn’t have to be either committed, or responsible.

Which kind of explains why science has been working on a product since at least the 70s that still won’t be out for 10-12 years. That’s almost 50 years. It’s a good thing that group wasn’t working in technology – we’d all still be using pencils. Assuming a high percentage of scientists are men, one begins to suspect a lack of motivation.

Why would a man ever want to use male birth control? Though I’ve intentionally been using broad generalities, in today’s culture of course there are exceptions. There are women who enjoy uncommitted promiscuity or who try to trap a man by getting pregnant. There are men who accept responsibility for fathering a child, and see male birth control as a way of owning that responsibility. There are lots of reasons people have sex: loneliness, romance, love, manipulation, procreation or recreation – to name a few. Sex is a marketing tool, both trivialized and idealized.

I guess it’s like G.K. Chesterton said (with considerable foresight, since he died in 1936): “They insist on talking about Birth Control when they mean less birth and no control.”

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