Birth Control is More than Just My Responsibility2/10/2013
I had a conversation with a friend of mine from college today that both perplexed and perturbed me....
I had a conversation with a friend of mine from college today that both perplexed and perturbed me. My friend, a Black man in his mid-twenties, and I were talking about a girl that he was considering dating. His only trepidation came from knowing that the young lady (24 years old herself) had a child already. He then went on to say to me that he felt good about himself because he “has done a good job so far of not being trapped or having any little surprises show up”. When asked to elaborate on that statement, my friend stated that he “had done well to choose women who would take care of ‘all that’ if it came down to it, and who always made sure to be on the Pill,” so he didn’t have to worry about it.
Wait – what? Come again, please?
I find it both fascinating and irritating that men, and our society at large, seem to find no issue in placing the burden of pregnancy prevention solely on the shoulders of women. Women are taught to be responsible and cautious early on, so as to avoid unwanted pregnancies, while men are lauded for their sexual prowess from an early age. Further, women are forced to reckon with the uncomfortable truth that, if they are unfortunate enough to become pregnant, the additional burden of raising a child will also likely fall mostly, if not fully, on them alone.
It is a biological truth that procreation cannot happen without the input of a male and a female. Why , then, is it such a radical thing to hold the position that men should share equally in the efforts to ensure that unwanted pregnancies do not occur?
Studies have shown time and again that the most effective and safe methods of birth control are designed to work specifically for men. Yet, even with all of the evidence available to support this, there is still an overwhelming thought that women should be responsible for birth control, by any means necessary.
Nevermind that the more effective methods of BC require taking large doses of hormones that, whether they are in the form of patches, pills, implants, or shots, put the women that take them at risk for a host of medical issues. These include: heart attack, stroke, blood-clots, cancer, mood swings, depression, loss of bone density, obesity, and many more.
Still, we are expected to ingest these medications dutifully and without complaint, or we are expected to abstain from sex altogether. Should we somehow become pregnant, we are generally expected to “take care of all that” as well, whatever that means. I can say from my own personal experience that being left to make the choice between having an abortion and becoming a single mother is one of the worst things for a young woman to contend with. Even if the men in question decides to stick around and “play daddy” as I’ve so often heard it referred to, most of the tasks of child rearing will still fall on the mother.
So what can be done to change this archaic form of thinking? Well, for starters, we can provide more education. More education means that more people become aware of an issue. When more people are aware of something wrong, it becomes more difficult for it to be swept under the rug. In this scenario, when the availability of viable forms of birth control for men becomes more main stream and more people know about them, they are less likely to be rejected without thought.
Another key thing that we must do as women is continually advocate for ourselves. We must work together and challenge the stereotypes that attempt to define our places in society, in this and other aspects. No one is going to give it to us freely; we must continually demand it of others and ourselves. When we get in the habit of expecting and requiring more consideration from others, we will receive just that!
When do you stop having sex with a condom?
Kioshana LaCount is a 20-something professional hailing from the Deep South (Alabama). She makes a living in assisting young people in obtaining the skills that they need to become responsible, productive citizens, and in her free time she writes, crafts, and advocates. Feel free to contact her at Kioshana.firstname.lastname@example.org.