It is one of those things that is always supposed to happen, but never actually seems to; it always gets brought up as being on the cusp of happening, but never does. Much like adaptations of Confederacy of Dunces, various apocalypses, marijuana legalization or Boy Meets World reunions, male birth control is constantly touted as “on it’s way.” You hear about it every couple of months, and people on the internet blabber on about it for a few days, then quickly forget, jumping on the story again the next time it pops up.
I am here to blabber.
A new potential male birth control pill was “discovered” recently when a bunch of scientists accidentally realized their potential cure for cancer also worked as a male birth control pill. Imagine working in an industry where your mistakes add up to “Oh, we accidentally also made a miraculous male birth control pill in addition to this cure for cancer, whatevs.” When I make a mistake, I end up deleting several paragraphs of an article, or getting yelled at by a customer.
Basically, the pill makes testicles “‘forget how to make sperm”, which is kind of hilarious if you think about it, like a man’s spleen would say to his testes, “YOU HAD ONE JOB, GUYS, C’MON, GET IT TOGETHER.”
Scientists are still looking for a pill that “really does just temporarily stop men from making sperm, with no other side-effects,” and this might be the one. There’s a bunch of stuff in this article about tests on mice, gene expression, BRDT proteins and lots of other stuff I don’t understand – I studied political science (coincidentally, I studied at Clark University, which is where the female birth control pill was developed, I think), not regular science.
So my science-science knowledge is lacking, but I came here today to discuss why male birth control is a good thing, from like a socio-political-feminist-progressive-blah-blah standpoint. First of all, new medicine is almost always a good thing, innovation is always good, progress is always good and this is coming from someone who usually avoids pharmaceuticals.
But this isn’t just a scientific innovation, it’ll be a societal innovation. Since the invention of birth control, the burden of acquiring and taking The Pill has been on the woman. Also burdening women were the negative health effects of The Pill, and its effects on hormones. Maybe it’s our (I’m a guy in case that wasn’t clear already) turn to take on that burden? And this is way better than a vasectomy because you don’t have to have a scalpel near your scrotum.
I think there are a lot of interesting questions raised by a potential male birth control pill, but I am more equipped to ask them than answer them, so I’m gonna put these questions to you commenter folk:
Do you think health care providers would be more likely to provide a male birth control pill than a female one do to that whole patriarchy thing?
How will anti-contraceptive religious organizations react to this? What exactly constitutes birth-control-related sin in their eyes?
What would a male birth control pill do for sexual politics?
Guys: would you take a male birth control pill, taking into consideration that it’s new and experimental and we don’t know the long-term effects yet?
And an only half-serious question, for the girls: Do you trust guys to remember to take a pill every morning?
Of course, feel free to sound off on whatever comes to mind about this issue.
Image via Feminists for Choice.