Afternoon InquisitionScience

AI: New Uses for Pez Dispensers?

Recently, Skepchick’s own Jen and I were sparring in the MMA octagon, like we do every Friday (hey, it’s a great way to relieve stress from the work week), and while she had me in a fairly deadly choke hold, we engaged in an interesting discussion about the recently developed/developing male birth control pill. At least I think it was about the male birth control pill. Her submission holds are pretty good, and with oxygen to my brain being depleted, I can’t really be sure. It was either about the male birth control pill or about Larry King smearing tapioca pudding all over his naked body. (God, I hope it was about the male birth control pill.)

Anyway, it’s always fun to relay these wonderful octagon discussions to all of you, so for today’s Inquisition:

Men, would you use a male birth control pill? Ladies, your thoughts on said pill? And today’s bonus question: What are your thoughts on female Viagra?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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89 Comments

  1. I’ve been pondering a vasectomy recently, because I have no intention of fathering a child in the short- or long-term. Given the choice between an invasive surgical procedure with potentially serious (if rare) complications and popping a pill, I think I’d choose the pill.

  2. A non-hormonal pill like in the link that just messes up the “dudes” is fine (or, at least I assume its non-hormonal?). Would never take a hormonal one though.

    @Zapski: o.O

  3. I like taking the pill, but I know that a lot of women have problems with it. I would definitely love to have a male pill in a monogamous relationship.

    If it was during a one-night stand and a guy said he was on the pill, I wouldn’t trust him. But I would always use a condom for diseases anyway, so it would still be fine.

  4. @Joshua the link with Parkinson’s is scary, mostly because it totally makes sense that it would cause Parkinson’s. A vasectomy ends up training your body to attack itself (anti-semen antibodies are usually created), so it makes sense that an autoimmune disease would result.

  5. It’d be great for men to have that option, and I’m all for it. However, I, as a woman who can get pregnant, would NOT want to rely solely on it. A man can’t get pregnant. An accidental pregnancy does not directly affect him. It would, however, directly affect me.

    Women have a hard time remembering to take a pill every single day as it is. I wouldn’t “trust” that a man would be as diligent as I — and even I’m not that diligent (I’m really forgetful). I don’t really like the word “trust” — because it’s not that I wouldn’t trust him. It’s just that I know how forgetful humans can be, seeing as I am a forgetful human. Also, even with perfect use, pills aren’t, well, perfect. Other medications can affect it, or maybe the man gets diarrhea or something. Same things that can happen to women.

    That said, I’m ALL for both the man AND woman taking birth control — it’d be double the protection, and double assurance against forgetfulness.

    I’m too tired to talk about female “Viagra” today.

  6. @eean: You never know when you’re going to get whisked off to an alternate universe where genders are reversed, meet a female counterpart of yourself, have a long night quaffing beers to see who’s got the better tolerance, tumble into bed, and (because you forgot your male pill in the drunken stupor) get knocked up with twins.

  7. Hypothetically speaking, I might not have any problems with it if I knew it was safe, but I doubt I could remember to take it. I have a hard enough time remembering the regular stuff. I tried taking ginko some years ago, but I couldn’t remember to take it.

    There’s a swedish beverage company that used to make a drink called Niagra, which was billed as viagra for women. I heard that mixing it with vodka is a From Russia With Love.

  8. @eean:

    Would never take a hormonal one though.

    Oh, I see. I’m wondering, would it be “fine” if your female partner took a hormonal one?

    This is so typical.

    All this talk about “hormones! no!” and “is it safe?” when women have been taking hormonal birth control (some not as safe as they first appear (Yaz, anyone?), and that’s always been totally fine, and seen as, “Hey, well, if you don’t want to get pregnant…”

    There are many, many men who have no problems with their female partners taking hormonal birth control, but won’t dare take such a thing themselves.

    THIS is why I always say: The onus of pregnancy is 100% on the woman. SHE is the one that has to take ALL of the risks, while the man can basically walk away. Don’t want to take hormonal birth control? Cool, man … but you still aren’t the one who might get pregnant; but she may. Her risk is MUCH, MUCH higher than yours. Her choice: Have an unwanted baby or take a hormone. His choice is: Let her deal with it, or help out and take a hormone. His risks are minimal; hers are far greater.

  9. I would fully support a male birth control pill. Ideally, I think it has the potential to shift birth control from being viewed as a woman’s concern to a more equitable, shared responsibility. And even if we don’t quite get that far, I’m sure it would mean a lot less anxiety for guys who want to sleep around without getting anyone pregnant, or hetero couples in which the woman can’t/doesn’t want to be on the pill.

  10. @thracian-filly:

    I’m sure it would mean a lot less anxiety for guys who want to sleep around without getting anyone pregnant

    My problem is that guys may then be far less inclined to use condoms when “sleeping around” — and may use, “Well, I’m on the pill!” as an excuse to convince women, especially young women, not to use condoms. Teen girls already have to deal with that pressure a lot. (“But if you loved me, you’d trust me and wouldn’t use a condom!” could now turn into, “But I’m on the pill! Don’t you trust me? Don’t you love me?”)

    That’s one huge negative, I think: The potential for men to be able to get away with not using condoms. Which isn’t a good thing.

  11. @infinitemonkey: No, but I DID start my period today. Appropriate, or what?

    Also, I was mostly referring to monogamous couples who don’t want to use condoms. So for them, this would be great. But yeah, condoms should still be used, and the male pill shouldn’t be used as an excuse to stop using them.

  12. @marilove: “It’d be great for men to have that option, and I’m all for it. However, I, as a woman who can get pregnant, would NOT want to rely solely on it.”

    I totally agree with you on this point. While I would be happy if any man I knew decided to start taking birth control pills, I would not want to gamble the fate of my uterus solely on my partner remembering to take the pill every day. I would feel much more secure seizing the reins and taking the pill myself. Then again, I would feel twice as secure if both my partner and I were on birth control– that way, if one form failed, the other would (hopefully) still be effective.
    Honestly, I can’t believe it’s taken us until 2010 to actually even come close to developing male birth control. Sheesh.

  13. @marilove: Aside from that, I can’t imagine anyone willing to sleep around and NOT use a condom. I mean, really, you both are kinda slutty, and just because one doesn’t have an STD doesn’t mean the other won’t.

    I would hate to pick up something that doesn’t come off with soap and water. A male pill may help prevent unnessecary pregnancies, but its not going to do a damn thing to stop everything else out there. I think this is best for guys in a monogamous relationship who doesn’t want children. That way, you can feel pretty sure that even if the girlfriend isn’t, or missed a pill, or something, you’ve got your bases covered.

  14. @thracian-filly: Oh, I can totally see why it took this long. I mean, we’ve already had the predicable “I won’t take hormones!” comment from a man. Men don’t want to take a pill that might have side-effects. They don’t want to deal with that. They want women to deal with it. That’s just how it is.

    Aside from that, I can’t imagine anyone willing to sleep around and NOT use a condom.

    Er. That’s naive as hell. There are many who don’t feel that way. ESPECIALLY young teens (both female AND male).

  15. marilove: COTW

    While I support the male bc pill wholeheartedly, as it alleviated the birth control burden of women, I also agree with @marilove. Some men actually opine that it’s okay for spouses or partners to be on hormone-based pills but Oh No! Not ME! What a bunch of hypocritical bullshit. UGH!

  16. @marilove: “My problem is that guys may then be far less inclined to use condoms when “sleeping around” — and may use, “Well, I’m on the pill!” as an excuse to convince women, especially young women, not to use condoms.”

    Yeah, I thought of that problem as I was hitting “submit.” I still think, over all, that a drug which would enable responsible men (even teenagers) to avoid unwanted pregnancies is, on the whole, a good thing. And I would hope that people would still be encouraged to prevent both unwanted pregnancies *and* disease.

  17. It was either about the male birth control pill or about Larry King smearing tapioca pudding all over his naked body. (God, I hope it was about the male birth control pill.)

    I can see how the two would be easily confused.

    @marilove: It’d be great for men to have that option, and I’m all for it. However, I, as a woman who can get pregnant, would NOT want to rely solely on it.

    Yes, that.

    As for female Viagra, if Sex & The City is to be believed, just plain ol’ V works fine for both sexes. And we all know S&TC has a long-standing reputation as a bastion of social, economic, and scientific verisimilitude.

  18. @FledgelingSkeptic: And as more and more talk of the male hormone pill comes out, you better BELIEVE there is going to be a LOT of talk from men about how safe it is, and the potential side-effects. Yes, I think it should be safe — but I am willing to bet that the side-effects that come from the male pill are going to be seen as disastrous, or “not worth it”, no matter how slight they are, while women have had to deal with some pretty heavy side-effects for centuries. And I don’t just mean the modern pill; there has ALWAYS been some sort of bith control for women, even in the dark ages, and many of them had some heafty, heafty side-effects. They’ve ALWAYS had to deal with the side-effects, or risk pregnancy. Yet, when men are finally given the choice, the first thing they do is worry about the side-effects and almost always say, “Well, if there are side-effects…then no.” So the onus of birth control is still on the woman — who *will* have to deal with the side-effects, or risk pregnancy.

    The onus will always be on the woman, because SHE is still the one that can get pregnant.

  19. @thracian-filly: The thing is, it’s not so much that young men and women don’t want to prevent disease, it’s just that they are, well, young, and don’t always make the best decisions, for a variety of reasons.

    For instance, say the teen boy is on birth control, but the woman isn’t. They find themselves in the back of his old Chevy, making out heavily, and, well, one thing leads to another. No one has a condom.

    Teenagers are going to be FAR less able to go, “Okay, we need to stop and get condoms!” Hell, even adults have a hard time doing that. Hell, if I’m going to be honest: I‘ve done it. “Oh, I’m on the pill! Let’s fuck!” It’s stupid, but in the heat of the moment, stupid sometimes wins out.

    I don’t think that means the male pill shouldn’t exist, but it is an important fact of life that people make stupid decisions sometimes, and it shouldn’t be ignored.

  20. @marilove: …women have been taking hormonal birth control (some not as safe as they first appear (Yaz, anyone?)

    Please go on… I’ve been taking Yaz for about a year now and this is the first I’ve heard of associated risks. I did the smart/obvious thing and wiki’d it after reading your comment – are you referring to the diuretic issue? If there’s more, can you link me to something more substantial? (I’m due to renew my subscription in a couple of days, so if this stuff is killing me softly with its song, this would be a good chance to switch.)

  21. @marilove: yes I would mind if my girlfriend took hormonal birth control. Been there, got the t-shirt, not going back.

    See question #1 http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=4281993 for a typical story.

    Anyways I’m in a long term relationship so the only reason for birth control is to be able to skip on condoms, or at least not use them consistently. If there are common hard-to-detect side-effects… meh. Just use a condom.

    And I could care less about the teenagers in the back of Chevy’s. HIV being pretty much treatable is a much bigger “problem” under your weird logic.

  22. @marilove: “For instance, say the teen boy is on birth control, but the woman isn’t. They find themselves in the back of his old Chevy, making out heavily, and, well, one thing leads to another. No one has a condom.

    Teenagers are going to be FAR less able to go, “Okay, we need to stop and get condoms!””

    I agree with this statement. However, look at this same scenario, except take the boy off birth control, and things will probably go the same way. At least in the first scenario no one’s getting pregnant.
    I guess I’m just a pessimistic pragmatist here– perhaps I have such little faith in people actually using condoms that I’m happy to endorse any opportunity to mitigate the effects of unprotected sex, especially for girls/women, who clearly bear the brunt of the consequences.

  23. @thracian-filly: No, I agree with you — young teen girls are just as unlikely to use birth control. However, young teen girls are more at risk of abuse and coercion from their male partners, and I think that’s important to remember.

    But, yes, I think more birth control options are always better, but we can’t forget the negatives that come with that, either.

  24. I think it is the attitude of marilove that has prevented male contraceptives from being developed. Men can’t be trusted with such things (but women can?), or men won’t want it. I see one of these stories once or twice a year. Some animal trial, maybe a human trial and then… crickets.

    And it seems like it should be so much easier to muck up sperm then regulate the women’s entire fertility cycle.

    Well I can be trusted and I do want it, so do it already!

  25. [email protected]marilove:

    Mari, make up your goddamn mind.

    If a woman chooses to take a hormonal-based birth control pill, that is her choice. If a man chooses not to take a hormonal-based birth control pill, that is his choice. In all cases, it’s balancing the benefits against the side effects.

    When The Pill came out, it was a revolution because it offered a choice for women to control their reproductive destiny, relatively cheaply, and usually temporarily and reversibly. Despite the side effects, it was embraced for that reason.

    Men currently have other options. There’s the old standby, the rubber, which has the added advantage of disease protection. There’s the vasectomy; due to difference in plumbing, a vasectomy and a reversal together cost about the same as a tubal ligation, and the snip can be done outpatient. So, when a pill is offered that may have side effects they’re not interested in risking, you’re going to jump on men for refusing side effects they don’t want when there are other options available?

    Aren’t you the one who talks about it being a woman’s body and a woman’s choice about what she does with it? What about a man’s body and a man’s choice about what he does with it?

  26. Oh man, I would start on a male contraceptive pill right now if I could. My partner and I both dislike (but use) condoms, as she is on antibiotics often enough for female contraceptives to not be worthwhile, and we’re still considering kids a few years down the line, so a vasectomy is out at the moment as well. If the side effects are comparable to those of female contraceptives, that’s just fine with me.

  27. @Mark Hall: And my damn point is that the risk of pregnancy is still on the woman, and so HER risks are far greater than a man’s, and therefore her decision not to take hormonal birth control has greater risk than a man’s decision not to take hormonal birth control. This is important.

    I’m not saying a man should be forced to take the pill. That would be outrageous. BUT, the risk is still higher for the woman. And always will be.

    Also, the man will almost always choose to do nothing except use rubbers, while a woman’s choice is to trust condoms (most of us don’t trust them), or take a hormonal pill (or some other form of hormonal birth control).

    Also, we women can’t get our tubes tied nearly as easily as a man can get fixed, and a tubal has a LOT more risks for women, than getting fixed does for a man (a friend of mine got her tubes tied when she was very young due to medical reasons, and now she’s 30 and dealing with hormonal crap).

    The risks are always greater for women and they will remain as such.

    And yet, men will moan and cry about “hormones” — when women sometimes have no choice because their only other choice is pregnancy. Men will never have to worry about getting pregnant. Their risk is far, far less if they decide against a hormonal pill. My point is that the onus and risk is STILL on the women, male pill or not.

  28. @marilove: “Also, the man will almost always choose to do nothing except use rubbers, while a woman’s choice is to trust condoms”

    And I say that not really because of the side-effects (though there will be plenty of men who won’t take it because of them), but because remembering to take a pill every day is fucking annoying and not easy and many people choose not to do it, which is understandable.

    I’m a woman, so I understand the risk of getting pregnant far more than you do. The risk is over my head EVERY time I have sex — birth control or not. It’s always on my mind. Getting my period is a relief, every.single.time.

    You’ll never understand. You just won’t. Sure, your girl can get pregnant — but you can’t. And that is hugely different.

    You choosing to not take hormonal birth control has far less risk than if I were to choose not to take hormonal birth control.

    Do you know the side-effects some women go through? As I said above, I’m pretty lucky not to experience many. For some women, it actually helps.

    But for others, it can be a nightmare. Like my younger sister: It caused her to go on a hormonal rampage every month. It was hell on her hormones, and caused her a lot of grief. She tried five different types (for months at a time, because you can’t just try for a month; you have to give it time) before finally giving up on hormonal birth control.

    She has a kid, now. In fact, she’s also had an abortion, years ago, after getting pregnant at 19 due to birth control failure.

    A man will never have to consider the risks as heavily as a woman. For him, it’s, “Well, I’ll just not take it and use a condom!”

    For her, it’s, “I can use a condom, but … then my risk for pregnancy is even greater.”

  29. @marilove: you’ve seriously never heard of a women complaining about hormonal birth control? And does it not matter to you that this birth control isn’t hormonal (and its hardly the only non-hormonal male contraceptive)? And you seriously think a man in a LTR considers pregnancy consequence free? And what is the actually point you’re making?

  30. Also, I haven’t even mentioned the cost. It’s not free, especially if you lack birth control. Nor is the exam, that you must take every year. Not everyone has health insurance. Not everyone has access to clinics like Planned Parenthood. Also, of course, are the states where the doctor and/or pharmacist can refuse a woman her birth control, or the areas where you know you obtaining birth control is going to get you a lot of looks, or words, especially if you’re in a small town. For many, it’s not as easy as, “birth control! I has it!” It takes money, effort, and time, and sometimes even then their doctor or pharmacist denies them!

    Again, the risks are far, far greater for women. And it rankles me to see, “I won’t take it if it’s hormonal.” from a man — who doesn’t even know what the side effects of a hormonal birth control for men would be. He just knows if it’s hormonal, he won’t take it. It’s the first thing that he says! But where does that leave his partner? Probably on birth control. If not, then she has to hope condoms are enough, and most women don’t like the odds of that, since they are the ones that have to deal with the actual pregnancy.

  31. Perhaps, it would be great for adults and individuals who have been in a relationship for some time. However, if it is available to teens, I would highly suggest proper sex education for both males and females.
    Personally, I am concerned about the changes it could cause in my significant other’s sex drive. As an example, the boyfriend and I wanted me to be on a form of birth control; the hormonal changes made me absolutely unbearable. The whole point of our monogomous relationship is to be friends and “lovers”.
    Would I use female Viagra. Hell yes! What’s the point of giving sexual exclusivity to your partner if you don’t want to have sex?

  32. @marilove: All I’m willing to contribute to this argument is yes, one person will never understand the position of another dissimilar person.

    Also, I’d like to say I’m not a fan of religious exemption. If its nessecary for you do something at your job which is against your religion, then I don’t think “well, I don’t have to do it because its against my religion” is a good excuse. If you can’t handle that, then maybe you need another line of work.

  33. And, as always, Mari, you ignore my point.. and, in fact, appear to not read what has been written, since you reiterate many of my same points without significant variation (q.v. vasectomy v. tubal ligation).

    Yes, the risks of pregnancy are greater for a woman (they are not non-existent for a man, but they are non-physical; financial, legal, and emotional… risks you have consistently either dismissed or ignored in past discussion). And, yes, women should look after birth control themselves, if they want to avoid pregnancy, just as men who want to avoid pregnancy in their partners should look after birth control.

    But a man has a right to reject medication that he doesn’t want to take, for whatever reason. Where does that leave his partner? Either making a choice to use another form of birth control, making a choice to risk pregnancy, or making a choice to deny him sex (either temporarily or permanently) if she doesn’t want to risk it under those circumstances.

    It comes down to choices. While rejecting a hormonal pill out of hand may not be the best one, the choices don’t stop there.

  34. I wouldn’t want to take a hormonal pill, either. At least not until it’s been shown to be safe, effective and have minimal* side effects. But I don’t think anyone should take any medication until those things have been demonstrated, Isn’t that the point of the FDA and science-based medicine? In other words, I think the exact same situation applies to women taking pills as well. (And for that matter, giving hormones to livestock, pro athletes, etc.)

    Here’s where it gets sticky. One person is taking a medication to prevent another person from having a symptom. So you have to balance not just a single person’s side effects vs. what would happen to that person if they didn’t take the pill, but both people together. The side effect of not taking the pill in this case could be pregnancy for the women, and maybe some financial cost for the man, vs. possible side effects like those Marilove’s sister had and no effects on the man, vs. no side effects on the woman and (currently unknown?) side effects on the man, Obviously the best choice depends on exactly what those side effects are and how the particular individuals react to the various pills.

    This is kind of like vaccines… You get your shots and risk the side effects not just to protect your self, but to protect the whole herd. It is *wrong* to freeload on herd immunity just because you want to minimize your personal risk.

    Besides, if you love the person you are having sex with, wouldn’t you want to protect her from risk by taking some risk your self? As Diane Keaton once said out, sex without love is an empty and meaningless experience, though as Woody Allen pointed out, as empty and meaningless experiences go, it’s a pretty good one.

    This has gotten kind of long an rambling, but I hope the vaxx analogy helps people think more clearly about this.

    [*] minimal meaning significantly less than the effects of *not* taking the medicine.

  35. @Mark Hall: And I never said I disagree with that, now did I? You made some large assumptions, you know.

    However, I find it pretty typical and very telling that as soon as a man hears “hormonal birth control” he immediately says no — likely without thinking of everything I mentioned, and without even knowing what the risks or side-effects, if any, might be.

    That, to me, says that men are far less likely to take the risks of birth control than women are, for many of the reasons I outlined.

    Also, a lot of relationships aren’t equal. You’re assuming that the woman and man are always on equal footing. They aren’t. Just because the man refuses to take hormonal birth control doesn’t mean the woman has a choice in the matter herself, or the choice to say no completely to sex, for any number of reasons. There are a still great many places and situations where women aren’t equal in this sort of discussion with their partner.

    All of this and more is why the responsibility of pregnancy and childbirth will always be 100% on the woman, and why she and only she should have the final say.

    And while I’d never force men to take hormonal birth control, it is pretty sucky that the women will still have to deal with the brunt of birth control. I have the expectation that a lot of men will choose birth control that has noticeable side-effects, while expecting their partner to be on hormonal birth control herself.

  36. @Buzz Parsec: Right, exactly, you got it. Of course, just like not every woman can take hormonal birth control, every man wouldn’t be able to, for various reasons.

    But I am not confident that most men would really consider the risks, and many will likely just refuse to take it, period, because there are risks or side-effects at all, or because it’s an inconvenience. Maybe I’m just being cynical, but I don’t think so. I think I’m just being realistic. Men already have a hard time using condoms without giving bullshit, “But waaaah it doesn’t feel as nice” excuses and the like and that’s the easiest damn thing in the world.

    The male birth control pill is a great idea, and I’m for it, but it’s not going to win everyone over, and I don’t really think it’s going to be nearly as popular as the female pill — and indeed, I wonder if it would ever really take off at all. How many men are going to be willing to take that responsibility? That inconvenience?

    This is a group of awesome men and I think a good chunk here would take it, or at least consider it and seriously weigh the pros and cons, but most men aren’t as enlightened.

  37. I broke about 50% of the condoms I ever used. Needless to say, no longer my method of choice.
    “Pulling out” would be more reliable than that. If condoms give you piece of mind you are delusional.

  38. @tiberious I think you were doing it wrong. :D

    I’ve never had condoms fail on me, I’ve had hormonal birth control fail on me though (or on my partner, it wasn’t pregnancy just general fail).

    marilove is just outraged that anyone would ever have a bad experience with hormonal BC.

  39. I <3 my husband's vasectomy. *That's* a man taking responsibility. Yes, it's a surgery, but I have issues with anyone calling it "invasive." Yeah, there was blood. But he was still able to enjoy a day off from work with minimal problems, and was only in the doctor's office a half an hour, and got pain pills to boot (which ended up being thrown out when they expired- never felt the need for them).

    I hated hormonal BCP's. The side effects sucked for me. First month off them, with condom and spermicide- nine months later my son was born. And no, men and women are not on equal footing in many parts of the US. There are still places in the US where a husband has to sign off for is wife to have an abortion (or at least there were still those places five years ago).

  40. @Mark Hall: ; financial, legal, and emotional…

    Also, sorry, but whatever risks the man may have with a possible pregnancy, they are peanuts compared to what most women have to deal with.

    Women also have to deal with the financial, legal, and emotional risks — on top of the very serious physical risks. Not to mention the social pressures when it comes to deciding on abortion. Or keeping the baby. Or maybe the father ran away, and now the mother is pregnant and has to go through it alone — whether it’s an abortion, or birth, adoption, or keeping the child. Also the fact that women are still for the most part expected to take care of the home and the child(ren), regardless of their career choices or desires, and the social pressures many women have to deal with if they decide to go against tradition.

    The two experiences? Not comparable. Men have a right to their feelings, but the two experiences are nothing alike and they never will be.

  41. I am in a long term relationship, and I would trust my partner with a male birth control pill. (He reminds me about my pill half the time anyway.) We would like kids one day, so a vasectomy isn’t on the table at the moment.

    I think there are a lot of men in long term relationships would be willing to take a pill. Maybe not the majority, but a lot. Particularly if hormonal birth control isn’t an option for their partner, some men would likely prefer a pill to condoms, or want protection in addition to condoms.

    I think a male pill would have a market, and it’s a shame that one hasn’t been developed previously. As others have said, it’s indicative of how pregnancy prevention is viewed as the woman’s job.

  42. Women’s options to avoid having to take responsibility for a pregnancy:
    Barrier methods
    Surgical methods
    Pill methods (before and after intercourse)
    Injection methods
    Abortion

    Men’s options to avoid having to take responsibility for a pregnancy:
    Barrier methods
    Surgical methods
    NEW: Pill methods
    9 month head start on evading the law

    I think this helps level the playing field, and as a young male who would like to have children someday, it would be nice to have a means of contraception that doesn’t end up in a landfill.

  43. I think the male birth control pill is a great idea – as it’s been pointed out already women aren’t the only ones who have to worry about the risks of pregnancy, men also have to carry the financial burden – plus they often don’t have a say on whether a woman decides she wants to continue a pregnancy or not.

    Of course, condoms are the ideal way to make sure no-one has to worry. But after having many depressing conversations with moron friends who like to sleep around and not use condoms (because “it’s not the same”), I realise this is something my blokey mates might actually use and so at least there won’t be lots of moron children running around. Just lots of STDs *sigh*.

  44. Something we can maybe all agree on – girls need to be better prepared to deal with these types of real life situations.

    Sex Ed in many schools is a joke, and they don’t get anywhere near social pressures or common mistakes.

    I never heard of the “pull-out” method until college, thank goodness, but what if I was only 14? Would I have had enough control at that time to say “get off me, that’s insane?” I don’t know.

    I was also one of those girls who relied on guys to have condoms. Luckily, I didn’t sleep with people I didn’t know, but what if I had a couple times? This type of stuff should be drilled into girls heads – BE PREPARED. Be prepared that anything can happen, at any time. Be prepared even if he is not. Be prepared with an exit strategy if things don’t go well.

    I was extremely lucky in my early adulthood to never get severely taken advantage of. And it certainly wasn’t because I made fantastic decisions. My daughters, my nieces, they will be educated. They will know the risks, how to minimize them, and things people may do to try to distract you.

    I’m not a man, so I can’t say how that feels. All I can say are any (comparatively mild) pregnancy scares I have had are paralyzing. In addition to health insurance / financial constraints, add to that teenagers who might not have drivers licenses! How is that girl going to get the morning after pill? Ummm…Mom? Right.

  45. Male pills aside…knowing some of you guys do MMA has made this site about 100% more interesting! :)
    MMA is the true skeptics approach to martial arts.
    Show me the evidence you can teach me to fight. Tap, tap, tappity tap.
    Good evidence.

  46. @marilove: “Maybe I’m just being cynical, but I don’t think so.”

    Yes, you are. When a story comes out about a man doing something bad to a woman, there’s a lot more “Men are assholes!” than “That man is an asshole” coming from some women, and judging by many of the comments that you make here, you fall into that category

    I would be the first to agree that the reverse happens as well especially when it comes to what women are capable of doing. When a woman fails at something, somehow it is an indictment of all women instead of just that one.

    But it’s wrong. The majority should not be judged by what the rest do, and if you’re going to throw out things like “most men will…” or “most men will not…” then please back it up. Your rants sound very much like you don’t think men are capable of being either kind or responsible, and I find that insulting.

    And Sam… I’m never going to be able to look at tapioca again. Thanks for that.

  47. I couldn’t agree more with Marilove.

    Yes, when facing an unexpected pregnancy, men face financial, legal, and emotional woes. Women face potentially life-threatening or disabling pregnancy and birth complications, permanent physical impacts, lifelong economic impact from reduced employment opportunity, long-term social isolation, AND financial, legal, and economic woes. Yeah, the burden is TOTALLY equitable.

    I think the male pill is a long time coming, and it would be fantastic for men to have the option to reduce their risk of unplanned parenthood. But, for many women, it won’t really change their responsibilities. And, yes, I think a lot of men will lie that they take it or may incidentally fail to take it correctly, but I don’t know that that requires anything more except to teach our youth that STIs are the biggest risk and condoms should always be used.

    As to the female libido medication options, women face problems with desire and with reduced physical response. The two are not equivalent, and both ought to have treatment options for those women who wish to be more active (or simply more comfortable) than they are. As I’ve said before, I’m disgusted by the responses I’ve seen about how this is some male-sourced attempt to make women more sexually available… as though it’s abnormal for women to want to have sex or to want to want to have sex. Is there a potential for abuse? Sure. But if a man is willing to drug a woman to “make her want him,” do you really think he cares whether she wants or enjoys it?

  48. @swordsbane: No, I’m not being cynical. A vast majority of men won’t choose hormonal birth control or the pill, because their risk of pregnancy just isn’t there.

    I never said that meant they were bad men.

    The risks for them are not the same. There need for birth control is not the same. They can’t get pregnant.

    That doesn’t mean they are awful men, but it sure doesn’t mean it’s fair for us. And we WILL still have to carry the burden of birth control, male birth control pill or not. It’s possible the attitude might change, but I doubt there will be a whole lot of men willing to take up the possible risks and side-effects of pills if they don’t have to, while women rarely have an actual choice — because there choice is the pill, or pregnancy.

    As a woman who has had to consider bith control options for over a decade, I am well aware of this. You can’t get pregnant. You’ll never understand the way women do. You just won’t. The risks are nowhere near the same. That’s reality.

  49. @marilove: A vast majority of men won’t choose hormonal birth control or the pill, because their risk of pregnancy just isn’t there.

    No, you just said that because the risk of pregnancy isn’t there for men, “A vast majority” won’t chose hormonal birth control. What do you base this on? Do you think that just because there’s no risk to them personally, they are incapable of thinking about the risk to their partner? Or is it because you think they are just unaware of the risks to their partner?

  50. @swordsbane: As a woman, I already know how men in general treat birth control and how much women already have to deal with the entire brunt of it all. Even decent men will balk at condoms because “they don’t feel good” or are “a pain” and “why can’t you just get on birth control?!” (Generally these decent men are willing to help pay for the cost … but not all.) It’s always “just get on birth control!” Because they think it’s something women should just do, and that it’s not really a big deal.

    This is what I’ve gotten from a good majority of the men I’ve ever dated (and I, er, have a lot of experience!), and I’ve dated some great men. Men in general expect women to take responsibility of the birth control options, because they are the ones that will get pregnant, and that’s just how it has always been, and always will be. (Which I personally don’t necessarily have a problem with on one hand since, well, I’m the one that can get pregnant, but it IS frustrating.)

    There will certainly be men who will and are willing to take responsibility themselves — men who get snipped are a good example. But they aren’t the vast majority and they won’t be the vast majority if there is a pill with side-effects. It may slowly change as time goes on, but I am willing to bet my meager wages that the brunt of birth control will still always be on women, and there *won’t* be a huge rush of men opting to take a pill with side-effects.

    Again, I and the other women here who have chimed in to agree with me know from experience.

    This isn’t something you have to deal with every damn day of your life.

  51. I’m surprised no one has mentioned this yet, but I’ve been pondering this since yesterday: is there too much social stigma attached to birth control (and hormonal supplements in general) for men to immediately be willing to jump on the bandwagon?
    In other words, birth control pills have been solely women’s domain for 50 years. Is the very concept so feminized that men will be discouraged from taking them by the mere threat of emasculation?
    Of course I don’t think this would be true of all men (especially the kind of men who participate in this site) and I would still wholeheartedly support the release of male birth control pills, but I’m beginning to wonder how successful they would even be in a market where men seem to seek out anything perceived to make them more manly, and avoid anything feminizing.

  52. @marilove: As a woman, I already know how men in general treat birth control and how much women already have to deal with the entire brunt of it all

    Really? Do all women get a primer on how men “in general” treat birth control or is it just that you’ve slept with that many guys? Are the personal experiences of you and the others here THAT vast?

    Or maybe you’ve read a lot of studies about men’s behavior. Perhaps you can pull one out for me and we can check some figures. When you use phrases like “vast majority” it’s a bold statement, and you better be prepared to back it up with more than anecdotes from your life and the lives of some others on this blog.

    And seriously, you’d be shocked at some of the things I drank and ate in college. The idea that any boy would shirk from taking a pill if it increased their chance of getting laid just because of the risks of side effects is a little hard to swallow (no pun intended) but that aside, you are still (I think) making the assumption that because the personal risk to men isn’t there, they aren’t going to know or care about the risk their partner, and you’re implying that they CAN’T care about the risks to their partners because “They’ll never understand”. Where does this idea come from? I know I’ll never understand Global Climate Change, certainly not to the degree that a climate scientist does, and I’m 43 years old and live in Wisconsin.. I’ll probably never suffer the effects of Global Warming in a personal sense unless it’s higher prices at the pump, but I am certainly capable of understanding the ramifications for others and for future generations. So you explain to me exactly why men can never understand enough to be responsible.

  53. @swordsbane: Oh, I don’t know, how about the other women here who have chimed in? And my sisters? And the many women I know? And the many women I’ve talked to on other sites? And the many women I’ve read talk about birth control? And the women I’ve talked to that work at Planned Parenthood?

    ““They’ll never understand”. Where does this idea come from? ”

    Um. The fact that they can’t get pregnant — men WILL never understand quite as women do, because men can never experience it. Just like you can’t understand sexism from the view of women, at least not in the way we understand it. Oh, you might understand in an abstract sort of way — but until you feel that fear when your period has been missing for two weeks and oh god am I pregnant? And then the relief you feel when your period finally comes and you realize it was just late — I just went through that. I actually skipped a period. I’ve been doing a lot of medical tests, including peeing in a lot of cups, and even an ultrasound (unrelated to pregnancy), so I was like, 99.99% sure I wasn’t pregnancy … but the fear was still there, because my stupid period wasn’t coming. It’s a slow, burning fear that follows you everywhere. My period finally started yesterday. I literally did a “WOOOOP!” of joy in the restroom at work.

    You will never understand how that feels.

    And, yes, I’ve slept with quite a bit of men (and some women!). The “Why can’t you just get on birth control?” is very, very common. I’ve gotten it from every man I’ve ever dated even somewhat seriously. “Are you on birth control?” Is the #1 question asked before we sleep together. My answer is either, “Yes, but I have condoms too!” or “No, not currently, but condoms!” Their response, if I say no, is usually: “Oh, you’ll just have to get on birth control then!”

    That’s mainly because that’s the best way to assure against pregnancy, so, as I said above, I don’t necessarily have a problem with it on one hand — but it’s very frustrating, and pretty telling. Especially when you begin to realize the only reason they want you on birth control is because they “hate” condoms — condoms are annoying and a pain, but apparently … not as annoying as the possible side-effects women will get from birth control. (And a lot of that, I think, is becuase men don’t know or just don’t realize that birth control DOES come with side-effects. So I think it’s not so much they are jersk, but rather they are conditioned to think that it’s a woman’s responsibility and only her responsibility and it’s “not a big deal”.)

    Since the dawn of time, it’s been up to women to consider birth control options. Do you know the history of birth control? I do. Some of the options from the far gone past are really, really scary. Yet women were more than willing to try them, risking death and poisoning just to keep themselves from getting pregnant. Men certainly didn’t do the same.

    Indeed, it was women who fought for the right of birth control, not men.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_control

    There are historic records of Egyptian women using a pessary (a vaginal suppository) made of various acidic substances and lubricated with honey or oil….
    ….
    Various abortifacients have been used throughout human history in attempts to terminate undesired pregnancy. Some of them were effective, some were not; those that were most effective also had major side effects. One abortifacient reported to have low levels of side effects—silphium—was harvested to extinction around the 1st century.[9] The ingestion of certain poisons by the female can disrupt the reproductive system; women have drunk solutions containing mercury, arsenic or other toxic substances for this purpose. The Greek gynaecologist Soranus in the 2nd century suggested that women drink water that blacksmiths had used to cool metal. The herbs tansy and pennyroyal are well-known in folklore as abortive agents, but these also “work” by poisoning the woman. Levels of the active chemicals in these herbs that will induce a miscarriage are high enough to perilously damage the liver, kidneys and other organs. However, in those times where risk of maternal death from postpartum complications was high, the risks and side effects of toxic medicines may have seemed less onerous. Some herbalists claim that black cohosh tea will also be effective in certain cases as an abortifacient.

    Poisons. Acids. Liver and kidney damage. Death. Etc.

    Women went through centuries of trying some damn scary birth control options just so they wouldn’t get pregnant, some resulting in death. I haven’t even mentioned the risky abortions that still go on to this day.

    Women, not men, have always had to deal with the risks and will always have to.

  54. @marilove: ““They’ll never understand”. Where does this idea come from? ”

    Um. The fact that they can’t get pregnant — men WILL never understand quite as women do, because men can never experience it.

    That was a textbook way to take what I said out of context. What I actually said was:

    and you’re implying that they CAN’T care about the risks to their partners because “They’ll never understand”. Where does this idea come from?

    Maybe I should paraphrase myself: Why can’t men be responsible simply because they can’t understand from the perspective of a woman?

    and wow… An excerpt from Wikipedia that explains birth control all the way up into the 2nd Century.. How very contemporary of you. Now how about something more relevant to the discussion? You seem to be fixated on how rotten the lives of women have been and how much pressure they’re under, even from themselves, and I’ll stipulate that you are correct. However, we’re discussing (or I thought we were discussing) how responsible men will be with a male birth control pill.

    but until you feel that fear when your period has been missing for two weeks and oh god am I pregnant? And then the relief you feel when your period finally comes and you realize it was just late.

    You will never understand how that feels.

    Again, I have already said that I agree to that. What I don’t agree with is the idea that this negates any feeling of responsibility on the part of men towards the problems and risks women go through as a result of birth control (or lack thereof)

    And in all of those anecdotes, even if you knew every woman in your city, you’re still talking about a small sample relative to ALL men. As skeptics, how many times have we learned, here and elsewhere about the danger of relying on anecdotal evidence, and about simply accepting “general knowledge” as fact without fact-checking, and about the dangers of otherwise intelligent people reading things into their own experiences that don’t necessarily belong there. Also as skeptics, I would expect us to look for scientific studies done by the kinds of people who have devoted their lives to learning about human behavior and working under uncompromising testing standards, and that “accepted facts” for the general public are rarely facts and sometimes not even accepted a widely as reported. Or do we dispense with healthy skepticism because “As a woman, I already know how men in general treat birth control” by your standards of “evidence through anecdotes”, homeopathy should be reliable and effective medicine because of the literal mountains of stories about how well they work?

    To put it simply; Just the facts, please.

    I’m not saying that your personal experiences are not important, but it does NOT give you the right to extrapolate that into a “general knowledge of men” unless you have something else to back it up.

  55. @swordsbane: I never said they can’t care, did I? They just can’t understand. Difference.

    What I don’t agree with is the idea that this negates any feeling of responsibility on the part of men towards the problems and risks women go through as a result of birth control (or lack thereof)

    I never said anything about negating any feelings of responsibility, just that men view their responsibilities differently. And why wouldn’t they? They can’t get pregnant. It’s not nearly as serious for many men as it is for women, since men won’t carry the burden of pregnancy, or a possible abortion, or the risks of birth.

    It is a fact that women have the brunt of the responsibility when it comes to birth control. This has been a fact for CENTURIES.

    Women have literally risked death so they won’t become pregnant.

    Men haven’t.

    That is fact.

    And I seriously, seriously doubt that the majority of men will suddenly change their mind about birth control, after centuries of not having the responsibility of birth control.

    Also, I can’t do a very good search right now because I’m at work, but one major factor is that, while studies are happening sloooowly, they just aren’t being funded much, because there are already options available — and those options are the responsibility of women.

  56. @marilove: What you are saying is that most men (and as far as I can tell, you’re implying almost all men) don’t know or care about the risks and pressures women suffer when they deal with birth control, and that men wouldn’t take a birth control pill because the potential side effects are scarier than their sense of responsibility.

    You are basing this conclusion on your own personal experience and anecdotal evidence from those around you and those you work with and others you’ve come in contact with.

    And you seem to be obsessing on the fact that men can’t possibly understand what women are going through and reiterating that even though I have repeatedly said that I agree.

    I take issue with your conclusion and you haven’t provided any other evidence for consideration. You apparently think what you have already provided is enough. I don’t.

  57. When did I say “don’t know” or “don’t care”?

    Not once. I said don’t understand. They don’t view it the same as women, because they don’t experience it the way women do, and they never will.

    The words don’t understand do not mean “don’t care” or “don’t know”.

    I take issue with your conclusion and you haven’t provided any other evidence for consideration.

    What? Women literally risking *death* while men never have isn’t at least some proof that women are far more likely to risk more than men when it comes to birth control?

    Because I sure think it is.

    And I’ve touched on it a few times, but: Once the male birth control comes out (someday…who knows if it ever will, since funding is hard to come by, as there are other options — for women; and that’s important — if even coming up with a male birth control option has been difficult because scientists and those funding the research are saying, “Well, we already have options, options for women, so we won’t be spending the money on this” do you think those same men are going to be gung-ho about the financial costs of birth control, and the possible risks and side-effects?!) Anyway — I think that attitude might slowly change. But slowly. Certainly we aren’t going to see a huge group of men go “Alright! Time to take some hormones!”

  58. @marilove: But I am not confident that most men would really consider the risks, and many will likely just refuse to take it, period, because there are risks or side-effects at all, or because it’s an inconvenience.

    To me, that says that you think most men would not care enough about the risks to their partner when considering birth control and that they wouldn’t take a pill because it’s slightly risky or an inconvenience. I don’t buy that. I admit that we men are kind of simplistic in many cases, but a pill we can just take?? Condoms don’t have a chance against that kind of convenience. The danger of course would be their effectiveness, not getting guys to use it. If the side effect was acne or penis shrinkage you might have problems, but mere health risks aren’t going to do it unless they are immediate and debilitating or long-term and terminal.

    Or how about this one:
    All of this and more is why the responsibility of pregnancy and childbirth will always be 100% on the woman, and why she and only she should have the final say.

    always?? 100%?? That presupposes that there are no men capable of accepting responsibility for their role in childbirth and therefore don’t deserve any say. That’s even beyond “most men” That is almost flat out saying “All men suck and don’t deserve an opinion.” I hope that isn’t what you’re saying.

    What? Women literally risking *death* while men never have isn’t at least some proof that women are far more likely to risk more than men when it comes to birth control?

    and that translates to the idea that most men think it is entirely the woman’s responsibility to handle birth control? Yes, I do I think that’s kind of a big leap to make without evidence.

    And I do think that research in this particular area is tragically inadequate, but that is reason to force the issue and GET the research done somehow, not to make up the conclusions we want just because we don’t have hard data.

  59. @marilove
    You will never understand how that feels.

    Actually, I suspect that the anxiety experienced while waiting for a biopsy result might be very similar to waiting for a pregnancy result. Or worse.

  60. @swordsbane: “always?? 100%?? That presupposes that there are no men capable of accepting responsibility for their role in childbirth and therefore don’t deserve any say. That’s even beyond “most men” That is almost flat out saying “All men suck and don’t deserve an opinion.” I hope that isn’t what you’re saying.”

    Mari never said men don’t deserve an opinion, she said the final say belongs to the woman. Big difference. A man can have an opinion, voice his opinion, try to convince the woman that he’s right, but in the end she has the right to say “You’ve convinced me, I’m going to keep it” or “Sorry, you didn’t convince me, I’m getting an abortion.”

  61. @lkregula: Mari never said men don’t deserve an opinion, she said the final say belongs to the woman. Big difference. A man can have an opinion, voice his opinion, try to convince the woman that he’s right, but in the end she has the right to say “You’ve convinced me, I’m going to keep it” or “Sorry, you didn’t convince me, I’m getting an abortion.”

    That is why I wanted clarification
    the responsibility of pregnancy and childbirth will always be 100% on the woman

    As I said, this presupposes (or at least heavily implies) that there are no men capable of accepting responsibility for their role in childbirth and therefore don’t deserve any say. If the responsibility is 100% on the womans side, then by simple math the man has 0% even if he wants some, and why would you allow any say to someone who has 0% of the responsibility? Unless you’re talking sperm donors or fathers that run at the whisper of the word “pregnant” then the man should share the responsibility and therefore have a say in how it comes out. Of course the woman should have final say because she’s the one who’s going to carry the kid, at least until they come up with a way where the fetus doesn’t have to be inside a person to develop and be born, but that’s not the same as the responsibility of pregnancy and childbirth will always be 100% on the woman.

    All things being equal, the responsibility should be at least somewhere in the neighborhood of 50/50. I don’t think a woman should be forced to carry a child if she doesn’t want to anymore than a man should be forced to take care of a child that a woman decides to carry against his wishes. If you have two willing partners in a relationship, and decision about having children that doesn’t include equal consideration of the wishes of BOTH parents is wrong, even though that through no fault of their own, men aren’t the ones that carry children to term. I don’t think that should be written into law anywhere. I don’t feel the government should be involved in this debate at all except the support the woman when she finally says yes or no, but that’s how I feel it should go down. That applies to birth control too. I don’t think two people should have sex unless they are both on the same page with regard to birth control and both of them are agreed on what methods they will use. If they don’t then they both share responsibility for any “accidents” that may happen.

    But that wasn’t the problem I had. The problem I saw in what marilove was saying was that it seemed she was implying that most men don’t feel any responsibility for birth control. I don’t think that’s true. I think a lot of men don’t feel responsible, but it’s a long way from that to 51% of the male population.

  62. @marilove:

    not to be a sexist, or to say that hormones dont affect women in some way but i think the idea for guys to take hormones, is going to take 100 %.

    i wouldn’t go with 99.99 %, it’s not enough to be that safe.

    because we’re scared shitless that messing with hormones will impede on our erection capabilities, i know that might sound a bit, i dont know, sad?

    but a for a woman to get that part there would have to be a 0.0001 chance of your vagina closing up and preventing you from having sex (not that an erection is the only ingredient)

    would you take the chance?

    i wouldn’t

  63. @swordsbane:
    I think you’re confusing a pregnancy with a child. A man and a woman definitely share the responsibility of a child- morally, legally, financially, etc. A pregnancy *is* 100% the responsibility of the mother. She’s the one that bears the burden and the obligation of a pregnancy, risks her life carrying/delivering, and goes through all the physical changes that go along with being pregnant.

    “If you have two willing partners in a relationship, and decision about having children that doesn’t include equal consideration of the wishes of BOTH parents is wrong, even though that through no fault of their own, men aren’t the ones that carry children to term. ”

    This sentence is really scary. Yes, you say it should not be put into law, but practically speaking, if you give equal weight to both parties when there are only two parties, then they have to agree or you’re faced with a situation where there’s a dispute, and someone’s going to lose- thus, you’ve just made it unequal. So no, it’s not feasible to give equal consideration to both parties in this situation. Womens’ bodies, womens’ choice. Period, end of discussion. Until it pops out, it’s not a child, it’s a pregnancy.

    I didn’t take any of what Mari said to mean that men don’t feel any responsibility for birth control, I took it as men don’t feel as much responsibility for birth control as women do. Maybe I’m reading her wrong, but that’s my interpretation. A passenger in a car may feel some responsibility for an accident because they were talking to the driver, but not the same responsibility that the driver would feel.

  64. Some key points about the male birth control that I think will help some of the discussion here:

    The pill does something to the sperm so they are not able to fertilize an egg. I didn’t see any specifics but that doesn’t sound hormonal.

    The pill is designed to last about a month or so. The first one they gave mice made them “sterile” for a month. They upped the dose and the mice remained sterile for 3 months.

    Not sure if it will work that way for humans too. If it does, I’m not sure if that’s better or worse either! What’s easier to remember – a pill everyday or once every three months?

  65. @lkregula: I didn’t think that was what marilove was actually saying, but it did kind of sound like that to me, which was why I asked for clarification.

    Yes, you say it should not be put into law, but practically speaking, if you give equal weight to both parties when there are only two parties, then they have to agree or you’re faced with a situation where there’s a dispute, and someone’s going to lose- thus, you’ve just made it unequal. So no, it’s not feasible to give equal consideration to both parties in this situation. Womens’ bodies, womens’ choice. Period, end of discussion. Until it pops out, it’s not a child, it’s a pregnancy.

    Equal weight is not the same as equal consideration. It is not the man or the woman’s fault that it is the woman who has to carry the baby. Men didn’t get to design their own plumbing or that of women. A woman who holds that against men by saying “Well it’s not you that gets to carry the child for nine months, so you’re wishes don’t count as much as mine.” is wrong. Note I said wishes, not needs or risks. As I said before, the woman SHOULD have the final say, because she carries most of the burden and all of the risks of a pregnancy, but in terms of who is responsible for the child, from conception to birth, I think it should a little closer to 50/50 or maybe 60/40. It’s sad that many women FEEL they have all the responsibility on them, but that is not necessarily how things actually are, and when you say things like “Womens’ bodies, womens’ choice. Period, end of discussion. it sounds like what men want doesn’t count at all, like they’re just vending machines to be tapped when a woman wants a child, and that’s wrong too. I believe that’s why they call them partners now. I much prefer that to Husband and Wife. Those terms seem to imply separate and specific roles to play in a relationship. Partners sounds more like two people working together for a common goal. Much better in my opinion.

    Let me make it as clear as I can: I believe it is the responsibility of both the man and the woman to decide when, if and how to have a child, with the woman having the final say. Is that better?

  66. Swordsbane, name me one responsibility that men have in a pregnancy other than the beginning of it. Do they have to go to doctors’ appointments, have blood tests, change their diet, give up habits like alcohol or smoking or eating soft cheese and raw fish? Do they have to gain weight, stretch marks, hormonal shifts, nausea? Sure, they can opt to do some of these things and be supportive of their partner, but the responsibility is not on them in a pregnancy. The responsibility of a child is definitely shared on both parents- but a pregnancy is not a child. The choice to have a child should be made by both parties before a pregnancy occurs, but in instances where there wasn’t a conscious choice (don’t forget that approximately half of US pregnancies are unplanned), the decision to continue a pregnancy is the woman’s. The man can share his opinion, but in the end the choice of continuing a pregnancy or not is the woman’s. Your final statement starts to sound like that’s what you mean. The bottom line comes down to the difference between a pregnancy and a child.

    And as far as men being vending machines when a woman wants to have a baby, how about the times when a woman has just been an incubator for a child the man wanted? Which do think has occurred more often, historically and today?

  67. Man, if only there was such a thing as a non-hormonal IUD so that women would have an extra choice as to what birth control to use….
    I can’t take hormonal birth control. I have a non-hormone IUD that I’ve had for 7 years. I’d rather have my tubes tied, but I sense that’s going to be a bit of a battle with my doctor. I’d really like boyfriend to get a vasectomy, as neither of us wants children.

  68. @lkregula: name me one responsibility that men have in a pregnancy other than the beginning of it. Do they have to go to doctors’ appointments, have blood tests, change their diet, give up habits like alcohol or smoking or eating soft cheese and raw fish? Do they have to gain weight, stretch marks, hormonal shifts, nausea? Sure, they can opt to do some of these things and be supportive of their partner, but the responsibility is not on them in a pregnancy.

    Name me one responsibility that men don’t have that they CHOSE not to have. It sounds like you’re blaming men for not being biologically capable of getting pregnant. Just because the man only donates his sperm to the mix doesn’t mean that’s all he’s responsible for. It just means that that is all he is physically contributed and that is very different. We’re talking about much more than physical responsibility. He deserves to have more of a say in what when and how than just that. Maybe men can’t understand what a woman goes through to have a child, but I wonder how many women understand the terrifying helplessness some fathers feel for most of those nine months when he wishes there was more he could do.

    And as long as we’re talking about double standards, how about this one: If a woman wants a child and is determined to go through with an unplanned pregnancy, the man can’t say no, but if he’s devoted to her, he’s going to end up taking care of both of them. If a man wants a child but the woman doesn’t, he’s also out of luck. Although I admit that either of those circumstances would mean pretty screwed up relationships, the unfairness of biology does go both ways. The woman has more options when it comes to getting a child than the man does. Of course there are “egg banks”, but he will still have to find someone to carry the thing for nine months.

    The man can share his opinion

    It’s not about the man sharing his opinion. It’s about the woman valuing that opinion and even sometimes placing it above her own when it’s warranted. I’m going to repeat that last part: when it’s warranted. That doesn’t mean he gets to tell her what to do, but it should mean they make the decisions together and hopefully make one that both of them can be happy with. As for unplanned pregnancies. The only difference is that one or both of them was surprised and now they have to make a decision they didn’t think they’d have to. It doesn’t make that decision any less important for either of them, and depending on the circumstances it could make it even more important.

    And as far as men being vending machines when a woman wants to have a baby, how about the times when a woman has just been an incubator for a child the man wanted? Which do think has occurred more often, historically and today?

    Completely irrelevant to this discussion. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong both ways. Women don’t get to turn it around and get some kind of revenge thing going.

    I realize I’ve been kind of using child and pregnancy interchangeably. I apologize. I’m speaking about a pregnancy. I do not believe that human life begins at conception.

  69. Contraceptive methods reduce the chance of pregnancy, they don’t eliminate the risk completely. The only sure ways of preventing pregnancy are:

    1. Abstinence
    2. Sterilization

    So my advice to most young people would be, “Never have sex with someone you would not be willing to have a baby with.” If most people took that advice to heart, a lot of problems resulting from premarital sex wouldn’t happen.

    Note that I didn’t say, “Never have sex with someone you wouldn’t marry.” I’m not that stupid. Far too many marriages end in divorce anyway. But parenthood is forever.

  70. @swordsbane:
    I’m not blaming men for anything, just stating the facts of the matter. It sucks to be a man, and it sucks to be a woman. Both sexes get the short end of the stick in different ways. But that doesn’t change the fact that a pregnancy deals with a woman’s body and it’s her right to choose. Hopefully, they can come to a choice that they are both happy with, but at the end of the day it’s the woman’s decision. If that pisses off the man, then that’s something he or they have to deal with. If any man is so concerned that a woman might have an abortion that he doesn’t agree with, then he should stay away from females and stock up on tube-socks instead.

  71. @Dale Husband:

    The only sure ways of preventing pregnancy are:

    1. Abstinence
    2. Sterilization

    Obstetrical nurse, here. While sterilization is considered permanent, it is not 100% effective. 700,000 tubal ligations are performed each year in the US with a .05% failure rate. That’s 35,000 unwanted, or at least unplanned, pregnancies annually.

    You can’t get pregnant if you practice abstinence, just be careful of the ever so tempting “outercourse.” Outercourse does carry a risk of pregnancy, although a small one.

    My advice: someone needs to keep their chonies on at all times. Take turns.

  72. My boyfriend is pretty solicitous already about the fact that I’m taking the risk of side effects. If there was a male pill, I’m sure he’d be willing to consider it at the very least. That said, the pill I’m on at the moment isn’t causing me any trouble (the last one sent my libido plunging, but fortunately that stopped when I switched). So while we might consider it as a nice additional failsafe, if it did cause him side effects, we probably wouldn’t use the male pill just because the female one is working for us at the moment.

    @Egillvs — I think you’re missing something important when you say “but a for a woman to get that part there would have to be a 0.0001 chance of your vagina closing up and preventing you from having sex”. The thing is, there is a small chance that we’ll stop getting pleasure from sex altogether. It happens — in rare cases, women don’t bounce back to normal libido after coming off the pill. That’s a really big risk! I would argue that it’s comparable to losing the potential for erection. But we take it.

  73. Assuming that the side effects were known, something that my wife and I could live with, and affordable I would be all for taking a male birth control pill.

    I’m pretty sure we both share the same opinion. We have discussed this issue before.

    As far as female viagra is concerned. If it works and doesn’t cause any unmanageable side effects I don’t see why it would be a bad thing.

  74. I’d much prefer a 3 month shot than a daily pill. Primarily because of my shoddy memory, but also because it would make me feel more masculine as I have an irrational assosciation with daily pills to stop conception. (yes. irrational. culturally baised.) Needles are manly!

    I’d be all the fuck over a shot though, shooting blanks? Not having to worry if the vagina I’m having sex with is currently ‘live’ as it were. I’ve had sex with women who explicitly said they wanted a baby. From me. (Used a condom, I’m not stupid). I want nothing to do with children and the more I can put that under my own control the better. Also, I’d dedicate all of my drinking to my dead sperm. Great conversation starter.

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