Monday, May 24, 2010

Not a Voice in the Wilderness: Male Birth Control

Well, it seems as though I ask, and then I receive. Remember my previous exhortations to science to step up the research for a male birth control pill? Well, apparently someone is already on it. At the University of North Carolina, they have begun human trials to see if a blast of ultrasound could safely stop sperm production for up to 6 months. It would be low cost and effective, if it works out.

Although, as my partner said, "it's hard to trust anything that says 'safe' and 'stop sperm production' in the same sentence." And, of course, once the man has his treatment, he then has to empty his reserves before he is free of the wiggly little guys. I wonder if the treatment centers will offer an appropriate outlet for that, or if it will be homework.

This could be a fabulous innovation, and if not this particular method, something like it. Men should be able to make choices around controlling their fertility, too, and have a better range of options than the two--condoms and vasectomies--currently available. I know that fertility control is often thought of as the woman's burden, because the woman is assumed to bear the burden of the responsibility of providing for any oops babies, but isn't it time to set that kind of sexist thinking aside?

The old tropes of afraid-of-commitment-marriage-and-family-men and baby-hungry-shackle-a-man-for-life-women are tired and worn out. Let's think of something else. Let's finally acknowledge all the young men in the world who deeply and tenderly care about their potential progeny and who often feel helpless in the face of the social story that babies belong to women, all the time. And let's please fully acknowledge those women who have absolutely no desire to breed or beget children at any point in their lifetime. There is a full range of human experience that gets plastered over and shouted down by the binary gender wars, and that is ridiculous.

Let's empower everyone to make their choices about their bodies, fertility, procreation, and life arc for themselves, and stop trying to use these tiny little boxes to fit everyone. It just doesn't work and it leaves too many of us social creatures feeling isolated and alone. Let's embrace and empower each other instead.

No comments: