March 15, 2015

Does a Man Need the Pill Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle?

Damn. Did I take the Pill this morning?
Damn. Did I take the Pill this morning?

By Alexa Day

The best thing about the modern march toward gender equality? Every day, I gain new insight about things men want.

Like a few days ago, I heard Ashton Kutcher’s lament that most public men’s rooms don’t have a changing table, which annoys him when he’s out with his little ones. Now, I’ve observed how much space the changing table occupies in our own bathrooms, and I have on at least one occasion used it to keep my pocketbook off the floor. (Trust me here. That floor was frightening.) I figured the men’s room didn’t have a changing table, although I know those newfangled family bathrooms do have them.

But for whatever reason, I didn’t appreciate how difficult the lack of changing tables must be for Ashton and other single dads — like my brother. My brother thoroughly educated me about the whole public changing table situation, and now I get it. (Ashton, if you’re still looking, my brother and his similarly situated friends suggest Target for your changing table needs.) Still, I wonder why more men haven’t complained about that before now, especially since I’m pretty sure that’s how we ladies got our changing tables.

Now I wonder if my lack of insight is keeping me from appreciating the birth control pill for men. I first heard about the male Pill last week, and now I’ve watched a news brief on it, thanks to my colleague Madeline Iva. So I get how the male Pill works, and I’ll be interested to see if the male Pill gets through the FDA gauntlet before the HPV vaccine for grown women does.

I can’t help but wonder, though — why do men need a birth control pill?

I live in a very selfish little world (population: Alexa Day), and so my first thought was that I don’t mind being in charge of birth control. The world is a safer, more functional place if I don’t replicate. Very few things are more important to me than easy access to my very own reliable birth control. After all, if the birth control fails, I figure I have to make the bigger life change, so it makes sense to me that I should take the larger contraceptive responsibility.

Even if men wanted to shoulder more of that responsibility — and good for you, guys, if that’s where you are — I don’t get why the Pill is the way to go. Aren’t condoms easier, less expensive, more available? Sure, beyond the condom, I concede there aren’t a great deal of options, and the choices that do exist either last forever, demand adjustments to one’s sexual repertoire, or require injections into one’s junk. I just didn’t see that the Pill was a better idea.

But now I think I understand.

A man who wants control of his reproductive life has a dearth of options similar to what women had before the Pill. They’ve got surgery, abstinence, rhythm, and condoms. Men haven’t had to face the consequences of pregnancy in the same way that women have, but those few options are more or less where women were once upon a time, right? I don’t know that a male Pill would be quite the same game-changer that the original Pill was, but I’m okay with expanding their birth control options to include something as effective and easily reversed as the original Pill is.

Fair is fair. Things might be even more fair if men could get pregnant, but science isn’t there yet.

Now if the male Pill shoots through the FDA’s hoops without the usual delays, I might be a little miffed. And I’m definitely not relying on someone else’s birth control when I’m sure of my own.

But generally, the male Pill is okay with me.

So what do you think? Do men need the Pill like fish need bicycles?

Do fish need bicycles?

Do men need bicycles?

Think it over. Then follow Lady Smut. We’re 100% effective.

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  • Post authordavidjmobrien

    If we are in a relationship where we don’t need to worry about STDs, then the male pill is a great advance for two reasons. One, condoms for men are, indeed, less than what nature intended. That’s why a lot of young men and boys try to get out of not using them, even when their partners are not on the pill or great at remembering to take it. Two, the pill can have negative effects on some women’s normal monthly hormone fluctuation and since men don’t usually have that fluctuation, it might be something that is just more pleasant for such couples to have the male take the pill.

    Reply to davidjmobrien
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      I like your idea about the male Pill inside the context of the long-term relationship; it’s a great way for guys to provide for their ladies! A lot of us have been on the Pill for most of our adult lives. It might be wonderful to let our partners take over without having to take the permanent step toward vasectomy.

      Reply to Alexa Day
      • Post authordavidjmobrien

        There is also a indication that taking the pill can influence decisions in choosing a mate and that after a lifetime of using the pill, ceasing it to try to get pregnant can make some women realise they’re not as “chemically” attracted to their partners as they thought.

        Reply to davidjmobrien
  • Post authorCara Bristol

    I can see where men would want the pill. There is a decrease in sensation with a condom, and for men who want to be absolutely certain they don’t produce any little ones, the pill would be the way to go.

    As a woman, I don’t know that I would trust that a man would remember to take the pill every day (assuming it was every day). With a condom, you obviously know that he’s using it.

    Reply to Cara Bristol
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      That’s the lovable thing about the male Pill, though! As long as I have my own Pill, I don’t *have* to trust him, right? If he has his own Pill, he doesn’t have to rely on us quite so exclusively, either. Men don’t actually carry the baby, but they know the lyrics to Kanye’s “Gold Digger.” “Eighteen years, eighteen years.”

      That sounds sick — if we each have our own Pill, neither of us has to trust the other to take it. But I think that’s where it puts us.

      I don’t see myself swearing off condoms, though, unless we’re inside a status-disclosed relationship. Disease is sneaky.

      Reply to Alexa Day
  • Post authornormandiea

    Yeah, women won’t trust them to tend to it for the most part. When I was single – if I guy had said to me, “I’m on the pill.” I would have laughed and told them to wrap it up anyway, and I’d advise other single women to do the same.

    I can see it working for some couples where the female has problems taking birth control, but I doubt it will outsell Viagra.

    Reply to normandiea
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      I don’t think condoms are in danger of extinction anytime soon — as long as there’s disease, both parties still need them. But maybe this will change the environment around STD testing for my fellow singles. Right now, we’re using the condom anyway because we need the birth control backup. I wonder how things will change if we only really need it to protect ourselves and each other from disease.

      Reply to Alexa Day
  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    I think men will hop on it with both feet.

    First of all, they will have control over their fertility — and who doesn’t like being in control?

    Second of all, the pill is the same for men as it is for women—something you take in the morning, in the light of day when reason and your larger life priorities are in perspective.
    It offsets those moments when, after a drink or two, in the face of total hotness and spontaneity you’re impulsively willing to throw caution to the winds.

    I think we’re going to see a massive spike in illegal smuggling of the pill for men from Thailand. And I think we’ll see teen pregnancy plummet–even if it’s just mom’s grinding up the pill into their son’s pancakes.

    Reply to Madeline Iva
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      If the smugglers can get me the HPV vaccine at the same time, I’m all over that.

      I definitely think guys will take it (so I hope that stuff coming from Thailand is real) because it makes contraception a decision they can make outside the context of the relationship. As long as he’s got his Pill, he doesn’t have to worry about what we’re doing. All we’d have to deal with is disease transmission, which may keep us in condoms even if we’re both taking the Pill.

      It’s going to get interesting!

      Reply to Alexa Day
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