Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Disturbing Rhetoric Surrounding Male Hormonal Birth Control

As many of you may have heard, active research is being done on male hormonal birth control options such as pills or implants. Some articles claim that these options could be made commercially available in as little as 5 years. An MSNBC article quotes Dr. Andrea Coviello, a researcher at the Population Center for Research in Reproduction, as saying: "It largely depends on how funding continues. The technology is there. We know how it would work." In short, male birth control options beyond condoms may soon be a reality.

In my opinion, this is great news. The more contraceptive options, the better. This option is especially exciting because it allows for heterosexual couples to enjoy the benefits of the most effective contraception, even if the woman is unable to take OBC for some reason. It is also a step in the right direction toward more sex equality in reproduction and contraception. Reproduction in general, but especially contraception, has often been disproportionally the woman's responsibility. While it is true that women will always have greater responsibility concerning reproduction, simply because we are the ones who get pregnant, this emerging research gives me hope that that may be changing for the better.

Unfortunately, one wouldn't get that message from popular media covering this story. The MSNBC article cited above, and the first article to come up in Google when searching "male birth control pill," is disturbingly misogynistic. The main problem with the article is what quotes from interviews the author, John Schieszer, chose to include. One such gem is the following:
"'It is time for men to have some control. I think it would empower men and deter some women out there from their nefarious plans,' says Brown. 'Some women are out there to use men to get pregnant. This could deter women from doing this. An athlete or a singer is someone who could be a target and they could put a stop to that.'" 
That the author chose to include this quote as a reasonable viewpoint is horrifying. Rather than taking the time to acknowledge the benefits this technology has for reproductive choice, the author decided to tout blatant sexism and misogyny.

The comments on this article were, if possible, even more disturbing. John Doe -1925461 writes:
 "it is easy enough for a woman to get pregnant on purpose and leave a guy...to be a man in the united states and try to fight for custody of your child is the most futile, depressing, and expensive ordeal you can imagine, I would rather be a woman and get raped daily for the rest of my life than go through it all again."
I'm not going to post it here, but the comment by InterestedWatcher is also worth a read. The main themes in the comments seem to be the following: women routinely "trap" men through pregnancy and male hormonal BC would "free" men, and STD rates would increase.

What do you guys think about this?

Another point the article makes is that many man would not use hormonal BC. One man is quoted as saying:
“'I would rather rely on a solution that doesn’t involving medicating myself and the problems women have had with hormone therapy doesn’t make me anxious to want to sign on to taking a hormone-type therapy,' says Hardin, who is single and a college administrator."
This quote alludes to a problem I imagine companies trying to sell male hormonal BC would run into. Contraception is viewed as a "woman's issue," and I believe a fair number of men would not consider using hormonal BC because of this. Some may also view it as emasculating, especially since many men said they will use it "only if their partners make them."

I am disappointed that a potentially game-changing technology was reported with such narrow-mindedness and misogyny.

-Emily R, NPA Volunteer

For more information about male birth control pill visit the Discovery Health website.

1 comment:

  1. It really bothers me that men think they are above using birth control! Where's the equality in that!?