Women Only? Not Even Close

Nikki Brown challenges us to think differently about birth control being a “women’s issue”.

There’s been some talk over, what, the last couple months, regarding ladies and their access to birth control. Or basic health care. Or abortions. Or breast exams. Really, pick any of them. Now, while I could (quite easily) get going regarding Komen’s debacle with Planned Parenthood or the #issacircus of a hearing that ruined my day, that’s not what I’d really like to discuss with Good Men today.

Of course, some of you might tell me that you don’t want to hear my rants because, hey, those be lady problems and why would you rant to men about them (*please note* I did not say all of you – just… some).

And that, now that you mention it, is exactly my point.

All of these controversies, from Komen to birth control, have been overwhelmingly framed in this way: religious/moral freedom vs. women’s rights. Or something along those lines. Here, the details aren’t what’s important –the point is the vs. women part.

X, Y, Z vs. women. Period. Just us ladies, out there all on our own. Wantin’ things like breast exams and the pills. It’s a woman’s-issues thing, right?

Ahem. Wrong.

I am so done with these arguments being framed this way. These are not women’s-only issues and rights. These are far far more than that.

Why? Well, since you asked, let me try to explain.

First, let’s just pretend we’re talking about birth control – namely, birth control pills, or maybe even morning after pills. For sake of simplicity, let’s also narrow that into birth control only used for avoiding pregnancy – the idea that ladies be only wanting the birth control so they can be having the sex without the procreating. Forget all other arguments. For now.

I find it rather interesting that no one seems to bring up with whom all those ladies be having all the sex without the babies with. Well. Lesbians don’t really worry about getting preggers all that much. So that leaves… menfolk, or ladies born as men. And, ya know, I would hazard a guess that a great majority of that sex involving penses would be within committed, monogamous relationships. I would also hazard a guess that, in those committed, monogamous relationships, part of the reason the lady be on the pill is because she is not using condoms with her partner. Why? Because she probably trusts him and they no longer have need to worry about STIs, being in a committed, monogamous relationship. And a lot of people don’t really like the whole condom thing, and will avoid when it becomes safe to do so.

Some of those relationships are probably marriages, where both would like to avoid having a kid/having more kids. Both husband and wife are being responsible to what they want and the children they can provide for.

Sure, some of the ladies who be on the pill are probably not in committed, monogamous relationships. Maybe a few of them throw caution to the wind every night. Or something. But, you know, if pregnancy is on the line, they’re still engaging le sexy times with a dude. A dude who probably as into getting someone pregnant as his ladyfriend is.

Am I getting my point across? All these “X, Y, Z vs. ladies rights” conversations keep kind of saying that it’s only the ladies having sex without the babiez. All by themselves. When, um, hello. Hi there. Birds and bees calling.

Yes, the women are the ones who have to take a pill as a very consistent method of engaging le sexy times without le bébéz. Men don’t have that option (yet). But that doesn’t mean these aren’t men’s issues. If you want to be having sex without procreation, this is how you do that – men and women. Both of us. Together. Doing this deed. Together. Does it matter who is swallowing (ahem) the pill?

Moreover, yeah, we can also talk about the fact that women take birth control for more than just freaking sex. For crying out loud. It is a way to deal with many basic health issues. Take me, for example. I have periods that are out of control. It’s genetic – my mom and aunt are the same.

I pass out from my periods. When I was 14, I passed out and threw up due to the intensity of my periods. My mom put me on birth control after this (and way before I was sexually active) so I could freaking function. It worked – and I don’t have another option. A few years ago, I was in a relationship with a woman so I decided to get off the pill (again – not really worried about the pregnancy thing). Two months later, cue me facedown on the bathroom floor.

I live by myself. I drive a car and ride a bike in traffic. I cannot be passing out from my periods every time I get them. I have a very busy, full life. I cannot spend three to four days in bed on heating pads and prescription ibuprofen once a month. And I’m not the only person who requires the pill to treat non-sexual concerns.

Moreover, it’s not just self-identified women who need access to birth control and these basic health needs. Constructing the argument as if it’s just women who, say, use Planned Parenthood marginalizes those who do not identify as female, but may still have those needs.

In addition, it’s not just women and FTM peeps we’re talking about here. What, men don’t want affordable and available health care? They don’t have sexual health needs? They aren’t involved in family planning?

Since when?

Photo courtesy of brains the head

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About Nikki Brown

Nikki Brown blogs anonymously about sex, relationships, life, gender, sexuality, the environment, and anything else that piques her interest or raises her hackles. In her spare time, she practices yoga, sustainable living, drinking vodka, and the art of burlesque. Her blog can be found at http://womenarefrommars.wordpress.com/

Comments

  1. so its a women’s and men in monogamous relationships issue, (i.e. a family thing). So that means us single guys who cant get laid are off the hook right?

    • Ha! I think it depends on if you want to get laid, without getting someone pregnant. If you’re interested in having sex but not having babies, than contraception is about you, too.

      THAT said – regardless of your sexual activity, you have sexual health needs just as my ladybits do. If you are unaware of this fact, get thee to a clinic!

      • Im still not seeing the “it’s your problem too” side of this…

        Weather or not a woman has access to contraception doesn’t really change the fact that the ball is still in her court. She can choose to take it if she doesn’t want a baby, she can choose not to take it and lie if she wants one from a particular guy, and once pregnant she can choose to abort or choose not to. The only way I could possibly see any of this directly affecting me is if a woman who wanted to have sex with me didn’t because she didn’t have access to contraception.

        And while women have chosen not to have sex with me for what I’m sure are a GIANT PLETHORA of reasons, I can all but guarantee you “I can’t get mah pill!” was not one of them.

        (and yes I’m aware birth control is used for other medical reasons out side pregnancy, I’m not anti – choice or contraception, etc, I’m just arguing that as a single a guy, any of this is MY problem)

        Also I’m very confused as to how my body would sexual health needs related to contraception “regardless of sexual activity”. Short of prostate cancer or a horrible accident, all of my “bits” relating to sex can only have something bad happen to them through sexual activity.

        i.e. single + no daughters + no sex = no problem, right?

        • Well. I suppose if you never want to have sex without a condom, than yeah – BCPs and other contraception aren’t your ish.

          Moreover, if you have no female friends or relatives, or don’t care about their sexual health or family planning needs, than yeah, more reason this has nothing to do with you.

          If these things are the case (seriously, no judgement – your life, your call) than no, I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to the millions of other men who do have sex with trusting partners and rely on contraception other than condoms to avoid unwanted pregnancies, or the men who have women in their lives who need bcps for health concerns, or men who rely on Planned Parenthood for affordable health care needs.

  2. You’re assuming that woman are even using the birth control to begin with, just because the option is out there doesn’t mean someone will choose it.

    While it’s great for men who don’t want to use condoms, the choose to use birth control isn’t his choice to make.
    Also a men having un-protected sex with a woman he’s not married to on the basis of her being on the pill is a fool.

    Giving men more option than the condom is the only issue that should be of men’s concern.

    • Giving men more option than the condom is the only issue that should be of men’s concern.
      Damn that.

      Its a top priority I agree but by no means the only priority. I want to see everyone be looked out for on the birth control issue. No more of this “you’re a ____ so your voice doesn’t count” separation bull.

      • I also agree that finding options for men is a top priory but it’s not the only one. Moreover, again, if both parties are interested in safe sex, does it matter who is taking the pill, given its the only option?

        Yes – we should all be looked out for, and this is not a place for separation.

        • Yes it does matter.
          I don’t want to rely on someone else when it comes to birth control.

          • Agreed – and you don’t have to. You can wear a condom.

            But the point is many men are in trusting relationships where they can and do rely on their partner to take bcps because there is not an option for men aside from condoms – which many don’t like all that much. Moreover, men have sexual health needs, too. To say contraception and sexual health is only about women is not reality, or to say that simply because you don’t personally trust women to take a pill doesn’t mean all men can’t either.

          • I don’t want to rely on someone else when it comes to birth control.
            That’s why I say we should be looking out for everyone. I don’t want anyone to be in a position where one has to rely on the other with it comes to birth control. I want us (guys) to have as many options as possible and I want women to have as many options as possiblt too.

            And I especially don’t want anyone to be in a position where they can be deceived by anyone else when it comes to birth control. I want us to have our methods if for the same “my body, my choice” reasons that people push when it comes to women. I want RISUG (which last about 10 years at a time), condoms, vasectomy, that method of hitting the testicles with some sort of sonic energy that disabled sperm production for about 6 months at a time, etc…

            • Absolutely. Both/and.

            • William says:

              @NikkiB
              That’s not much of a choice.

              Yes men have sexual health needs, which is why we need contraception that’s meant for us.
              I never said other men needed to follow me in not trusting their partner in using the pill.

              @Danny
              We can’t look out for everyone if we can’t even acknowledge that some people aren’t being taken care of.

            • We can’t look out for everyone if we can’t even acknowledge that some people aren’t being taken care of.
              Agreed.

              The only way it will work is if its truly for everyone, and not just whoever happens to have the most sway on the political stage at the moment.

  3. Women already have far more reproductive control than men ever will, what could you possibly need from us? Not to mention the fact that women have spent the last several decades telling men we aren’t allowed to have opinions on abortion. Well, congrats. We don’t anymore.

    • Copyleft says:

      Excellent point. Men are well aware of the importance of reproductive choice.

      Specifically, we’re aware that it IS regarded a women’s issue, primarily because it’s only women who have any choice.

      We don’t need men getting involved to ‘support women’s choices.’ What we need is men working to promote MEN’s choices.

      • Agree on the men working to promote men’s choices. And, if you’d have me, I’d like to be considered to promote men’s choices too.

        I don’t agree that women are the only ones with choice. Condoms are a choice, as well as choosing partners you trust to use a diaphragm or take a pill.

        Fundamentally, it is your choice to have sex without children, or to have sex with women who only want children, or to have sex with women who would or would not get an abortion. You can choose with whom you engage in sexual intercourse – and we all have the responsibility to discuss and disclose our beliefs and thoughts on these things ahead of time. I understand we live in a society that doesn’t really promote such openness, but we should all be working to change that and be more open.

        • I think that men, some men I’ve seen writing, want a choice similar to abortion. So if a woman has the right to abort in the first trimester, the man would have the right to cede all parental rights (and payments connected to) in a window of time after finding out he was a parent to be. This is one of the things I see mentioned when men say they don’t have reproductive rights.
          We mention using condoms and they get very upset, either because it doesn’t address the above point, isn’t 100% effective, and likely because condoms don’t feel good to many men.
          And I’ve seen men write that they worry the woman will steal the condom to impregnate herself with. I’d like to see stats on that happening, but it is within the realm of possibility.

          I’d advocate of course for full and comprehensive sex ed, additional research into male contraception like RISUG, and ample communication with partners. I realize that may not happen late night a bar, drunken sexytime hookup etc, but it should.

          As for a male version of severing/ceding rights, I’d be down with that so long as there are other ways to support heath insurance and care for the resulting child. Right now even parents with insurance policies and jobs have a hard time making ends meet.

          • @ Copyleft
            Agree, woman have the choice which leaves them as the person who decides weather to use it or not.

            @NikkiB
            Seeing as how people can change during a relationship, choosing a trustworthy partner isn’t the only worry there is.

            @Julie Gillis
            Yes men should be able to cede all parental rights.
            The problem is then what happens if you stop contact with the woman or she hides the pregnancy from you.

            • In this scenario? I guess if I were making up some new legal scenario, you’d need to be informed of your rights to cede, and if you didn’t make a decision in that window, you’d be either on for parenting or there’d be some kind of suit. If she hid the pregnancy and then informed you when the child was a year, I guess you’d have the 3 month window to decide. Clock would start ticking then I guess.

              I can’t say it’s a very lovely world to consider. And we’ve not gotten into the men who want to stop their partners from aborting. There are cases like that too and cases of poking holes (by men as well) in condoms to encourage a pregnancy.

              Much better to avoid the pregnancy altogether via oral bc, vasectomy/RISUG (when available) and condoms. And communication.

              That way no one is in a situation that requires legal and or medical action. I’m not sure why there is so much pushback to that idea.

              It’s all well and good to want sex a lot. But human beings can do shitty things so…….best to pre-emptively communicate and prophylactically protect.

            • I guess if I were making up some new legal scenario, you’d need to be informed of your rights to cede, and if you didn’t make a decision in that window, you’d be either on for parenting or there’d be some kind of suit. If she hid the pregnancy and then informed you when the child was a year, I guess you’d have the 3 month window to decide. Clock would start ticking then I guess.
              No need to make up a new legal scenario becuase it actually does happen that way. You see in some states “being informed” can be as simple as putting an ad in the local paper. And as for if he doesn’t make the decision in that window its usually he is “out of parenting” not on for it. If in the event he brings up a suit its entirely possible for the mom to stall until enough time passes and the presiding just basically says “Sorry but its been too long you’re out of the kids life for good.”

              And it gets real fun when you throw in the scenario of her taking the child away to put up for adoption (regardless of whether she hid the pregnancy or not).

              That way no one is in a situation that requires legal and or medical action. I’m not sure why there is so much pushback to that idea.
              I think the push back is control people don’t want to face the possibility of losing their own “control”. Men don’t want to lose the ability stop women from getting abortions and women don’t to lose the ability to control men’s participation in the creation/raising of a child.

            • Mark Neil says:

              “That way no one is in a situation that requires legal and or medical action. I’m not sure why there is so much pushback to that idea.”

              Because that’s an idealistic view, that accounts for best case scenario. Laws exists to cover the worst case scenario’s. It’s like the draft, best case is that the draft will never be needed, that the US military will be sufficiently manned by volunteers, but should there ever be a need, the draft is there to fill it (but only men need ever worry about that day coming).

              Likewise, while being able to communicate and have a happy, feel-good moment to establish reproductive compatability may be ideal, we live in the real world were boys too young to know are taken advantage of by older women who get a slap on the wrist, maybe a misconduct charge, then gets a paycheck to help support a baby she wanted anyways, whether he had to pay or not. We live in a world where grown women will decieve men they claim to care about to have a baby, with or without him, and are rewarded with those very babies, and a court mandated, jail enforced transfer of wealth (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2059548/Four-men-reveal-trauma-dad-deception.html) (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2056875/Liz-Jones-baby-craving-drove-steal-husbands-sperm-ultimate-deception.html). The pushback isn’t against the ideal, it is against the concept that promoting that ideal is enough.

              And the pushback against many of the “women’s rights” concerns nowadays likely stems from the refusal to accept that, in the area of reproduction, women, who already have far more rights than men, and resist any discussion on how to give men even a sliver of that (as you say, the male severing/ceding rights still wouldn’t address several issues. but laws in many states make it difficult or impossible for non-married fathers to even protect himself from having a child adopted away from him), deserve to have their rights further expanded, their responsibilities reduced, and yet again, male reproductive rights are not allowed in the conversation. The constant me me me me me from (some) very vocal women’s groups becomes tiresome, and without some compromise, will actually do women more harm than good, by making men, and the more fair minded women, deft to any further complaints.

          • @ Julie

            The CDC’s 2010 survey found that around 8% of men and 4% of women experienced a partner either trying to sabotage their BC or get pregnant against their will.

            • Men are, currently, the only gender with no reproductive options if an abusive partner is successful in her attempts to sabotage BC.

            • KC Krupp says:

              Typhon,

              Do you have the source for that survey? Hunting around for a bit, but wasn’t able to find it.

            • The CDC’s Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey page 48.

              “Approximately 8.6% (or an
              estimated 10.3 million) of women
              in the United States reported ever
              having an intimate partner who
              tried to get them pregnant when
              they did not want to, or refused to
              use a condom, with 4.8% having
              had an intimate partner who tried
              to get them pregnant when they
              did not want to, and 6.7% having
              had an intimate partner who
              refused to wear a condom (data
              not shown).
              Approximately 10.4% (or an estimated
              11.7 million) of men in the
              United States reported ever having
              an intimate partner who tried to
              get pregnant when they did not
              want to or tried to stop them from
              using birth control, with 8.7%
              having had an intimate partner
              who tried to get pregnant when
              they did not want to or tried to
              stop them from using birth control
              and 3.8% having had an intimate
              partner who refused to wear a
              condom (data not shown).”

            • I hear all of the arguments around having trustworthy partners, and people who try to sabotage birth control… I just have a REALLY hard time believing this is MOST people’s experience, and the statistics say it is not. Over 90% for women, and just under 90% for men can and do trust their partners.

              Moreover, if you have concerns, always watch out for you and always wear a condom/use spermicide. Or have a vasectomy, if you know you aren’t going to have kids, have some sperm frozen. And, YES let’s all work together to get a male bcp option out there! Honestly, it is not women alone holding that train up or something!

              Finally, I just feel that the bottom line is trust and communication. If you’re not sure about someone, or they don’t want to use a condom – *don’t* have sex with them. That is still a choice, too.

    • “Women already have far more reproductive control than men ever will”

      Men have always had control over their own bodies and that includes their reproductive control.
      Don’t want a baby?? don’t have sex. Want sex with no baby? USE BIRTHCONTROL. there you go, now the control is in your hands.
      Women Now have JUST AS MUCH control over THEIR OWN BODIES as men do over theirs. But WAIT Women shouldn’t be able to choose whether they want sex w/o pregnancy?

      Not to mention the fact that women have spent the last several decades telling men we aren’t allowed to have opinions on abortion. – Women have spent the last several decades telling men they aren’t allowed to have CONTROL OVER SOMEONE ELSE’S BODY.

      Don’t be mad just because you don’t have a uterus and you don’t have a right to control someone else’s.

      • Mark Neil says:

        While I don’t agree with 8Balls assertion women have “always” had more reproductive control than men (though nether do I think they had less, just different), NOW they most certainly do…

        “Men have always had control over their own bodies and that includes their reproductive control”

        Control over their own bodies does NOT equal reproductive control, for the very reason that they do not carry the child themselves, they must depend on a woman to inform him of potential parenthood, must trust in the woman to not deceive him, and must accept whatever decisions the woman chooses with regards to abortion, adoption, abandonment or raising the child herself… I’d say men lack a significant degree of reproductive control.

        “Don’t want a baby?? don’t have sex. Want sex with no baby? USE BIRTHCONTROL”

        Odd how, when this argument is used in abortion debates it’s called misogynistic, hateful of women, attempting to control women’s sexuality, denying women their reproductive rights… yet saying it to a man doesn’t deny him his reproductive rights, it’s the “sensible thing”.

        “there you go, now the control is in your hands.”

        Ditto. Want an abortion? well, unless there is a medical need or the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, why should you get one? You had plenty of options to avoid it in the first place, far more than men do, given the shear plethora of birth control options available to you. And if you feel entitled to more options, then why the insistence that men suffer with their very limited (and fallible) options, and should those options fail, too bad? Why the double standard? This is what men mean when we say women have more reproductive control. It’s not just about women controlling access to sex, it is about the options available should something go wrong.

        ” But WAIT Women shouldn’t be able to choose whether they want sex w/o pregnancy?”

        This is a strawman. Those opposed to sex don’t limit it to women. Otherwise, the issue isn’t about denying women a choice to have sex without pregnancy, it is about balancing that choice against the responsibility they should endure, the responsibility that they feel entitled and justified to force on men under the exact same circumstances. It is about a double standard that is unreasonable… Why should sex that leads to pregnancy not concern a women, but impact a man his entire life? As such, isn’t it MEN who are being denied sex w/o parenthood right now?

        “Women have spent the last several decades telling men they aren’t allowed to have CONTROL OVER SOMEONE ELSE’S BODY.”

        And yet, the wage slavery that is child support, for children never wanted, never agreed upon, you don’t see that control over someone else’s body, their future, as unacceptable? Is that what feminist equality looks like?

        PS: I personally don’t see a problem with early term abortion, though late 3rd term abortions seem abhorrent to me. The idea of half delivering a baby, severing it’s spine to kill it, then completing the delivery is absolutely appalling, yet legal in Canada. I’m also disturbed by the use of abortion as a birth control, more than 3 abortions just seems too much.

      • “Don’t be mad just because you don’t have a uterus and you don’t have a right to control someone else’s.”

        How dare you? Believe it or not, i’m pro-choice and believe that women should have the ability to get an abortion.

        However, I find it highly ironic that your advice is “don’t have sex” Do you not realize this is THE EXACT SAME ARGUMENT that anti-abortionist use? The EXACT same one.

        And frankly, if pre-pregnancy BC and abortion were the only method that women have of “opting out” of parenthood. I would be okay with that, and completely okay with men “not getting a say” in it.

        That’s not the case. Not only do women have more options for preventing a pregnancy, they also have completely legal ways to decline parenthood after the birth of their child. Its is completely legal in this country for a woman to walk away from her child. Including legal abandonment.

        there is legal precent that states that even if a man wears a condom, he is liable for child support

        Even if a man is raped, (even if that rape is statutory) he is laible for child support

        Even if a man engages in a sex act that would normally have no chance of conception, and she impregnates herself with the ejaculate, he is laible for child support

        Hell, for that matter, paternity fraud is completely legal in this country.

  4. JutGory says:

    I am glad you think it is a men’s issue.
    I am tired of all those people who say, you are a man, so you can’t have an opinion about abortion.
    Or, how could congress have a hearing on birth control where only men got to testify.
    Or, you can hafve an opinion when you can have a baby.
    Or, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be free.
    Maybe that will stop, now that we agree that birth control is a men’s issue.
    -Jut

    • “Or, how could congress have a hearing on birth control where only men got to testify.”

      I agree with what you’re saying, except for this bit. I think men and women should have testified.

      Plus, at the very least, they had to have known it would have looked bad. They’re politicians and yet they didn’t consider how something like this would appear to the public? Come on.

      • JutGory says:

        HeatherN: ” I think men and women should have testified.”

        I am going to disagree here. My disagreement is based on a number of presumptions, so I am willing to admit that there may be more to this than I understand.

        My understanding was that the hearing was about how the mandate would affect particular religious groups. My understanding is that it was not a hearing about women’s access to birth control. As many of these religious leaders are men, I do not have a problem with the choice of witnesses. If that is what the hearing was about, Fluke’s testimony is wholly IRRELEVANT to that point.

        However, it was twisted into being about hatred of women, as opposed to religious freedom. The critics have been dishonest about that. And, they have done so because it is their mind-set that men have no business talking about reproductive choices if their point-of-view differs from the feminist view.

        -Jut

    • I’m with you Jut.

      It seems like now all of a sudden women want to hear from men on the birth control conversation. Not before but now when the men at the top that are railing against women’s access to it seem to be gaining serious ground and they need sort of counterforce. We’re supposed to just act like all those things you said and the “If you don’t ovulate stay out of the debate” attitude was just a figament of our imaginations I guess.

      Personally I don’t apprecieate being summoned for an invokation of fight fire with fire (“men are the ones that are endangering it so we need men to counter it) mainly because I’m more earth aligned but it is nice to see that there are those among women that are wanting to actually hear from men now, better late than never I suppose.

      • I wouldn’t say “fight fire with fire”, but it would be good to speak up that this is your issue too. That sex is a consensual act between two parties, and if pregnancy is on the line, there are both vaginas and penises involved. Therefore, it’s not just a women’s concern, because I believe men want to keep having sex without babies, too.

        • The reason I say the “fight fire with fire” comparison is because I think that there is some sort of belief that now is the time for women to call upon men to speak up not just because “it a men’s issue too” but because there is a presumption that since we share gender with those men that were excluding women we’re supposed to have the ears of those male politicians.

          Believe me I agree that its a human issue but I question the timing of all these sudden calls for support (if for no other reason that the questions of “if blatant disregards such as that all male politician meeting on abortion hadn’t have happened would these women still be asking men to speak up?” and “after these women feel like the issue of women’s reproductive rights have been resolved to their liking will they go back to ‘if you don’t ovulate stay out of the debate!’?”)

          • I can’t speak to national politics, but I’ve been asking men and women both to speak up for years. Lots of feminists have. Lots of non feminist but pro bc/rights have as well. Just cause you don’t see it on the TV doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

            • The reason behind this suspicion:
              ///but because there is a presumption that since we share gender with those men that were excluding women we’re supposed to have the ears of those male politicians.

              Is that I’ve seen in some of these calls for support its from an angle of “talk to your fellow men”. Not coming from talk to those with power because that’s where it needs to be directed because talk to those with power because since we share gender they are going to somehow listen to use more than they will listen to women.

              Just cause you don’t see it on the TV doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
              Agreed.

      • There was a small but vocal group saying stay out of the debate. The vast majority of regular people in relationships have always worked together to decide on their reproductive options.

        I’ve been talking about male pills for years. I’m not famous so I guess it doesn’t count. There is so much hyperbole on the site right now I can barely stomach it.

        We live in a country where things aren’t fair. For anyone. Our wars aren’t fair. Our economic structure isn’t fair. Our reproductive systems aren’t fair. We have a party that’s pro life until the kid is born and then it’s “to the wolves if you didn’t plan well” but given the economic structure….I don’t see even planners doing well out there.

        It’s so disheartening to see this stupid back and forth like it’s just a male/female issue when its the entire system that’s jacked up.

        Women and men that don’t want to get pregnant should have SO MUCH MORE SUPPORT. Safe sex, pills, RISUG. Communication.
        You all want to cede parental rights? I think that’s fine, but let’s at least have universal health care for kids up to 18 so that those out of wedlock kids don’t get screwed based on the parents choices.

        • I love all of this Julie – well said!

        • I’ve been talking about male pills for years. I’m not famous so I guess it doesn’t count. There is so much hyperbole on the site right now I can barely stomach it.
          Oh I don’t blame you for being sick about it. I’ve supported abortion rights for women for years but since I’m a guy that’s not in power it doesn’t count but since I am a guy its okay to auto-dismiss what I have to say, until the fact that I share gender with men in power that are against women’s reproductive rights? And I think that is where the sickening hyperbole is coming from. Women and women’s advocates at large didn’t want to hear us before but now that they do we are supposed to believe that they always supported male reproductive rights as you have all along?

          I’m sorry that you feel disregarded but I think a lot of that disregard is coming the fact those who are emitting that disregard are acting on the disregard they have been met with.

          • I don’t even think it matters if I am personally disregarded. It’s the thrashing about without any focus, disregarding groups in general. I don’t auto dismiss you. In fact, I’ve never met you in person and would be even less likely to dismiss you if I knew you in person. I rarely dismiss people even when I can’t stand what they say.

            My observation has been that some feminists (men and women alike) have been fighting side by side for years. I see women and men working quite well together in my personal life. I’ve seen good things on blogs and newspapers, and I’ve seen peers in congress etc. Have I seen rad fems push back against men in general? Yes. Do I approve of it? No. Do I write on those blogs? No.

            The problem is in the generalizing.

            There are women’s groups who have pushed back against men. Those specific groups and the members shouldn’t be hypocritical. There are women’s groups who have been welcoming, collaborative. Those specific groups AREN”T being hypocritical. The comments here are all general to all women, all women’s groups, all feminists as if we were one great cabal.

            We aren’t. No more than all men are one great cabal. I can see that and I’ve tried to be specific in commentary because the hypebole and dramatics of generalizing only whip up frenzy rather than get pragmatic things accomplished.

            I have no problem with anger, or bad feelings, or dealing iwth conflict. I have issues with mixing up the mud enough so no one can see straight, male or female, no matter who is doing it.

            • I don’t even think it matters if I am personally disregarded. It’s the thrashing about without any focus, disregarding groups in general.
              Fair enough that you don’t think it matters. I’ll say that one thing about me that I’m working on is that when I am thrashed at and disregarded because I am a part of a group I return it in kind, and I take it very personally.

              I don’t auto dismiss you. In fact, I’ve never met you in person and would be even less likely to dismiss you if I knew you in person.
              Thanks and that is one thing I’m getting better at returning in kind as well. Which is why I’m just trying to say where the sickening hyperbole is coming you speak of and not trying to say you deserve it or something.

              The problem is in the generalizing.
              That plus I think that in the minds of a lot of people there is this belief that its okay to generalize some people but not others and you can usually tell which are okay to generalize and which are not by what groups a said people are a part of.

              The comments here are all general to all women, all women’s groups, all feminists as if we were one great cabal. We aren’t. No more than all men are one great cabal.
              I bet there is some clever proverb that amounts to, “If you’re treated like you’re part of a cabal you’ll treat others like they are part of a cabal.”

              There are a lot of wounded, scared, and hate filled people on nearly all sides here. How can we get everyone to heal properly so that we can all move on?

            • If I took it personally every time there was a thrashing and disregarding of me/feminism/egalitarianism I’d not be able to write here or comment here because I’d probably be crying in a corner. I don’t take it personally as much as humanly possible.

              How can we get everyone to heal properly? See…that’s got as many answers as sides to these debates!

              Liberals might say-universal health care, sex ed, more support for parents, less religious intrusion, free therapy.
              Republicans might say-go back to basics, 50’s style families, more church, less government intrusion into the house, suck it up.
              Policies will be pitted against policies on the policy side.

              On the personal level?
              Each wound or scar came from someplace perhaps a long time ago. Abuse-may have come from those abused, who have NPD or BPD. How do you heal that? Divorce and custody battles-How do you heal that.

              I start by listening but I tell you you get a lot of thrashing in the process and I’m not a therapist or healer, officially anyway.
              And the people have to want to heal. They have to want peace and healing more than rage and righteous anger. Rage and righteous anger feel much more powerful than resolution. So I don’t really know, Danny.

            • Mark Greene says:

              “And the people have to want to heal. They have to want peace and healing more than rage and righteous anger. Rage and righteous anger feel much more powerful than resolution.”

              Beautifully said.

              When we speak from a place of rage it makes engaging and educating others nearly impossible. One path to healing is to be heard. Doing it calmly is difficult, I know. We all get reactive when we feel generalized about or worse, abused all over again for being who we have chosen to become in the world.

            • If I took it personally every time there was a thrashing and disregarding of me/feminism/egalitarianism I’d not be able to write here or comment here because I’d probably be crying in a corner. I don’t take it personally as much as humanly possible.
              I can understand believe me. Only difference is that instead of crying in a corner I went to a much darker place. Sometimes I wish I had turned to crying in a corner instead.
              And the people have to want to heal. They have to want peace and healing more than rage and righteous anger. Rage and righteous anger feel much more powerful than resolution. So I don’t really know, Danny.
              Speaking from experience its not necessarily a conscious decision to decide to decide that one does not want healing and actively chooses rage instead. Sometimes one who desires to heal is treated so badly to a point where they come to believe that the anger is healing. To come to believe that the rage and righteous anger aren’t more powerful than resolution but that after trying other efforts to heal and having them fail to come to believe that the rage and righteous anger is resolution. As in the most extreme form of “No more Mr/Ms Nice Guy/Woman.”
              One reason resolving anger is so difficult is because its so situational and will vary from person to person. The things that set me off in the gender discourse are not going to be the same as the things that set off some other random person.
              Mark Greene:
              One path to healing is to be heard. Doing it calmly is difficult, I know.
              Yes it is. Even when the path is clear its hard. But when the path becomes blocked it becomes especially difficult.

  5. Sorry, but it’s the ladies who are ingesting the pill into their bodies so it is their issue. And the proof? Fluke wasn’t up there mandating condoms…. I mean that’s as much a women’s issue as it is a men’s, correct? It’s all birth control right?

    Let’s keep it real shall we?

    • Yes, women are ingesting – because men don’t have an option. But why are they doing so? To have sex with men. I’d say the vast majority of men are supportive of their partner’s taking the pill.

      As for Fluke, her testimony was on the necessity of bcps as solutions for non-sexual health concerns, so she would not have been discussing condoms.

      • But why are they doing so? To have sex with men.

        Well, they are doing so to have unprotected sex with men. I do not think that makes this a men’s issue anymore than men’s access to erectile dysfunction drugs is a women’s issue.

        As for Fluke, her testimony was on the necessity of bcps as solutions for non-sexual health concerns, so she would not have been discussing condoms.

        What I find curious about this debate is that the left never focused on that aspect. While most use the pill to prevent pregnancy, some women use it for legitimate health issues. It would have been an easier win to corner the right with that fact than argue over whether the state or a school should have to pay for women’s birth control.

        • Sure erectile dysfunction can be a woman’s issue. Because we are having sex with men and are also affected by that dysfunction and would prefer our partners to feel great, have the physical health/function they want and so forth.

          Couples where women take the pill are doing it for many reasons, but yes, having sex with their partners (and helping avoid an unplanned pregnancy) is part of that. Believe it or not, there are women and men who actually discuss bc options together, share costs (of condoms, of pills, of toys, of viagra) and consider it a mutual part of a mutual relationship.

          I see so many comments here from people who clearly see sex as a zero sum game man vs woman. So very depressing!

          • You’re calling on men to protect your rights as women that men don’t even have as men.

            It’s actually pretty odious. And I fully support men walking away from the whole issue since their only real choice when it comes to birth control is how they feel about women’s choices, and if they don’t feel supportive and happy with the choices women make for them, they’re bastards.

            • Actually I”m calling on people to try and promote health care choices for people, realizing that sometimes women need things that men don’t always see as useful and vice versa. I see both the pill and viagra as mutual issues. I don’t think supporting both sexes as odious. If I were a politician running for office, I’m sure I’d lose with that platform, but I’d run with it.
              I wouldn’t be writing here if I didn’t want to promote and protect men’s issues.

            • Viagra is a red herring when it comes to _reproductive_ choice.

              Men can’t even ensure their own reproductive options; what makes you think they can make a difference for women’s? And when they fail to do so, I’m sure they’ll _still_ be blamed for something they can’t help in the first place.

              Republican men don’t represent men or men’s interests. They’re male because males can have their male identity removed more easily then females and replaced with an ideology. Republican men are just ciphers for the republican ideology.

            • Viagra is a red herring when it comes to _reproductive_ choice.
              Oh thank you for saying that. I think that while Julie was probably just saying viagra for the sake of it being a popular issue with men I don’t she was really trying to put it on par with the pill for women.

              But those who do try to put it on par with the pill for women seem to want to ignore that viagra is almost always marketed as being for a man to have sex, not to have children (and I’m sure most of us here will agree that wanting to have sex and wanting to have children are not the same thing).

              Sure one can make the argument that men’s sexual health is being held in higher regard than women’s resproductive health but it viagra damn sure isn’t proof that men’s reproductive health is being held in higher regard then women’s reproductive health. To the latter I simply ask that we compare the pill for women to the pill for men…

      • Nah. Women are ingesting because they can. You are not taking the pill FOR men. You are taking it so you won’t get pregnant. And I support several women’s issues, but male support doesn’t make it NOT a women’s issue.

        As for fluke, she wants a mandate for men to pick up the cost so she chose to use political strategy #1… Frame BCP as a women’s issue of health, rather than a female contraception that can also be used for some health issues. You are choosing political strategy #2… say it’s a couple’s issue and use sex to appeal to men. The two rationales are mutually exclusive, but they both want the same thing which is for men to pay. BCP’s are a women’s issue.

        • “You are not taking the pill FOR men. You are taking it so you won’t get pregnant.” The what? And where does the pregnancy come from? She’s not taking the pill to stop some sort of spontaneous self conception. There’s sperm involved which equals men which equals sex. With men. Mutually. So they can avoid pregnancy but still have sex. Together. See how that works? You have the most selfish view of humanity I think I’ve ever seen.

          • Mark Neil says:

            Would giving women the pill on taxpayer dime alleviate men of any responsibility should that pill fail? If not, then “the having sex with men” argument holds no weight, because men are already court ordered to take responsibility for the consequences despite being given no choice beyond (their own) contraceptives (which, as pointed out, is not included). Making them likewise responsible for the women’s contraceptives (but still being solely responsible for their own) is only heaping more responsibility onto men, taking less off of women and giving women more options men don’t have. Is this how you define equality?

          • Why do you not understand the difference between motive and benefit?

            Men do not don condoms to cut their employers insurance cost or so that women don’t have to pay $90/month for pills even though this is precisely what happens when men use prophylactics.

            Men benefit from women taking the pill, but women do not take the pill FOR men. Women take the pill to not get pregnant. Men benefit from this. A vasectomy benefits women but this surgery is not done FOR women.

            I do not have a selfish view of humanity. I know what is “charity” and what is not. You however have the most pedestalized view of human motives I have ever seen. Do all your friends work to make their bosses life easier or to make money? Seriously. I wanna know the answer.

  6. If your periods require birth control to manage them I would encourage you to work for an employer that covers birth control as part of their healthcare benefits or attend a school that does the same if you are a student. OR you could change your budget to accommodate your priorities. My wife put herself through school through scholarships and work. She attended the school that gave her the best deal. She didn’t complain about her inability to attend a better school that she was accepted into because they wouldn’t accommodate her needs.

    Spare me the scenario where the only possible employer in an area is the Roman Catholic Church or the only school you can attend is a RCC school. Its so far fetched as to be irrelevant. I’ve stayed at my current employer for years longer than I would have liked largely because the benefit plans cover my son’s doctors and therapy needs. I’ve watched other parents of similar kids move, get new jobs etc… to make sure their kid is cared for. I don’t think its expecting too much for others to do the same.

    What scares the heck out of me is that we’re so blase about trampling over the constitutionally guaranteed rights of individuals and institutions in order to provide this public good. Liberty matters and, in my opinion, its worth a heck of a lot more than unfettered access to certain medical procedures. If you can find another way to achieve your goals then go for it. However, as long as the advocates keep pushing this avenue of delivery I will oppose this measure wholeheartedly. (The so called compromise is a load of bull.) I’m not a hypocrite about this. I support gay marriage. I support the legalization of marijuana. And yes, I support the right of a religious institution NOT to offer a benefit they find morally repugnant (even if it is “free” to them).

    As far as Sandra Fluke goes- she’s an asshole. She walked into Georgetown and decided that her opinion mattered more than anyone elses; let alone the Jesuits. If her goal was to earn a law degree she could have attended any number of other local schools (GMU, American, GW, or headed down the road to UVA). I don’t walk into your house and try to make you conform to my values.

    • @CW
      The freedom to discriminate and the freedom to engage government supported commerce are an anathema to each other. The moment an institution starts to receive government subsidies, all their protestations of individualism becomes moot. Georgetown accepts government funding so it must accept governmental law.

      The only thing I consider “bullsh@t” is the fact that Religious Authoritarian have a place in this debate at all.

      • Those damn religious… too bad they even get a say in how we run this country! They (religious people) get a say because they’re citizens. If you don’t like it- sorry, don’t have a solution for you. I personally have no issue living next door to athiests or having my kids play with the Hindu kids from their school.

        If you don’t want opposition write a law that people can live with. The religious (and other groups) are going to fight you tooth and nail on this because they see it as undue infrigement upon their liberty.

        If you want to stir up your base in an election year write a shitty law, use it to poke your opponents base, then watch in glee as people whip themselves into a frenzy.

        • You’re conflating religious people with religious authoritarians. I just don’t think it
          makes sense debating any of God’s lawyers Sharia Kosher or Canotical.

      • JutGory says:

        budmin: “The moment an institution starts to receive government subsidies, all their protestations of individualism becomes moot. Georgetown accepts government funding so it must accept governmental law.”

        Let me re-phrase this:

        “The moment [Fluke] starts to receive government subsidies, all [her] protestations of individualism becomes moot. [Fluke] accepts government funding so [she] must accept governmental law.”

        Does that mean that, if Fluke gets government-mandated birth control benefits, then she has to accept a government law that might outlaw abortion?

        If not, why not? If you are going to say that accepting government money comes with strings, why can’t they bind Fluke as much as Georgetown?

        -Jut

        • @Jut You said
          -“The moment [Fluke] starts to receive government subsidies, all [her] protestations of individualism becomes moot. [Fluke] accepts government funding so [she] must accept governmental law.”

          Wrong Governmental law is on her side: Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)

          Ms Fluke was locked in a conflict arena with Georgetown and our representative government  has chosen Ms Fluke as the victor.

          Same goes for antiabortion legislation. Pro-Choice stands victorious (for now)

          The arena of conflict is our voting booths, our debate podiums our campaign trails and of course our court rooms.

          If you can’t out vote, out debate, out campaign your advisories, then you have no claim to the attentions of representative government.  

          Furthermore….
          I don’t feel that I as a man could ever have an opinion on abortion. It is not my issue. It is not my fight. I will not take up either side. If women can’t fight to protect it then it’s not worth protecting. If pro-life advocates can’t overturn Roe v Wade then so be it. I have no dog in this fight. 

      • Since women’s colleges receive federal funding and don’t have to admit men simply for political reasons, It seems more than reasonable that a Religious Institution can decide that it doesn’t want to pay for contraception under a health plan… especially since it’s not like they are handing out free male contraception

  7. MichelleG says:

    A man is not a real man, he’s a boy, if he considers birth control is a women’s issue. That’s akin to saying having a child/baby is a women’s issue. How crazy and stupid is that? Please put on a condom…I wouldn’t want to have a baby with such low intellect.

    If a woman spends $30 a month for the next 20 years on birth control, that adds up to $7, 200. I think somewhere in there, the male should be responsible for half. Also I believe that men have as much responsibility as women to prevent unwanted conception, and they should be thrilled birth control will soon be available for them. Hopefully we’ll see less freak shows, such as Jerry Springer and Maury Povich, trying to figure out who’s the baby daddy.
    Moderator’s Note: Rhetoric on all sides, please tone down and stay focused on the topic.

    • William says:

      Having a child is a woman’s issue because she and she alone can decide the fate of the child.
      The only choice a man has in having a child is to use a condom.

      M
      en shouldn’t be held responsible when he has no say in the matter.

    • Any woman who calls a man a “boy” for disagreeing with her is a spoiled little girl

      Moderator’s Note: Rhetoric on all sides, please tone down and stay focused on the topic.

    • “If a woman spends $30 a month for the next 20 years on birth control, that adds up to $7, 200. I think somewhere in there, the male should be responsible for half. Also I believe that men have as much responsibility as women to prevent unwanted conception, and they should be thrilled birth control will soon be available for them.”

      why? Contraception only matters if your having regular sex, and most men aren’t. Same sex couples or people who cant physically conceive, asexuals, or dudes like me who have been laid all of twice in 27 years have absolutely no use for birth control out side non pregnancy avoiding reasons. Why should I be paying federal money (or due to the recent ruling, a higher insurance premium) for “safe, pregnancy free sex” im not even having? This just seems like nonsense to me.

      • Theoretically, you are either paying for “safe pregnancy free sex” or “full pregnancy, birth, and every medication that child will take for the rest of it’s life”. When it all boils down, you are saving money.

        • Mark Neil says:

          “Theoretically, you are either paying for “safe pregnancy free sex””

          Really? and what assurances does a man have that any sex he has WILL be safe and pregnancy free? What assurances does the government give him that all woman will be taking the pill? none, so no, a man isn’t paying for “safe pregnancy free sex”, he has the same deal he’s always had, but WOMEN get that “safe pregnancy free sex” if they so choose.

          • Also, “he has the same deal he always had”…except an increased number of potential partners on birth control. I would say the deal had changed if that was the case. He has a lower chance of impregnating a women in the population as a whole, that is not dependent on her financial/religious employment status. I wouldn’t turn that down if I was a guy. And again, you are paying for birth control OR the more expensive abortions, vaginal birth, and c-section births. I’m not going to do the cost analysis for you, but you can google it. That is why developed countries (except for US) supply birth control regardless of your age, without requiring permission of a parent, and if you can not afford it, they will pay for it. It saves them money in the long run, which is why they do it. If you think that increasing the availabilty of the “privilege” that is preventing unplanned pregnancy wouldn’t lower the long-term cost of abortions and births, then maybe take a look at google again.

            Totally anecdotal, and not meant as a statistical representation of anything, I have a group of Catholic friends that attended Catholic school in western US. They could not get free birth control from their school nurse, and were terrified that their parents would see their pills or notice that they’d been paying for them with their parents money. There is no way they would have sent their receipts in to get the reimbursed on their medical plan. Guess how many ended up getting abortions? I think we all have heard anecdotes like this, and while they do not represent everyone, it is safe to say that most late-teens do not practice abstinence and will not get birthcontrol unless it is very easily accessible to him. That is what this is about- it may be a “privilege”, but making having sex something that you may partake in ONLY if you can afford it is classist and denying those of a lower income working in religious students the “privilege” reducing their risk for unplanned pregnancies.

            • Mark Neil says:

              “except an increased number of potential partners on birth control”

              You don’t know that for certain. and neither will he. furthermore, it still doesn’t address the women who want babies. His need to take precautions, and the consequences should those precautions fail has not changed. it’s the same deal he always had.

              “They could not get free birth control from their school nurse, and were terrified that their parents would see their pills or notice that they’d been paying for them with their parents money.”

              So, because some of your friends are too afraid of their parents finding out they use protection, it’s my responsibility? Don’t you think educating people, and telling girls there is nothing wrong or to be ashamed of with being on the pill, is a better solution?

            • Okay, so the fact that availability of medication is correlated with taking said medication, when you look at the population on the WHOLE, than we could project that more women would take birth control. Therefore, increasing the number of women in the United States of America who take birth control (regularly, not just when they can afford it), we can say that that it is statistically more probable (even if it’s a miniscule amount) that your potential partner would take birth control. Sure, there will be a small percent of women AND men (that 4% of men always get ignored though) who will purposing try for a pregnancy without the consent of the partner, but in the population on the whole you will be less likely to knock a girl up if she is taking birth control, and more girls will be taking birth control. That is what I am saying.

              Well, since insurance ended up paying for their abortions (for the most part), yes it is everyone’s responsibility to give these girls a cheaper, healthier alternative. And really, of course I want girls to realize there is nothing wrong with taking the pill! What message do you think this “those sluts can pay for their own birth control, having sex without pregnancy is a privilege they don’t deserve if they can’t afford it” that the media and media folk have been pumping out is sending? That taking the pill is something safe, healthy, and normal? That we will pay for all your other medications, but your sexual lifestyle is a privilege that could be taken away if you don’t have enough money or choose to go to a religious institutions? I see one easy solution: save everyone money, get people birth control if they want it, and don’t produce this shame associated with not having enough money and wanting to take the pill.

            • Mark Neil says:

              First of all, those that don’t want to get pregnant will take precautions and already have access to free contraception via Condoms, furthermore, those are contraceptives are visible to both parties, so is of benefit to both men and women, not just women. If they don’t already take precautions, there is no reason to believe that will change, nor is there any reason to suggest more women will become sexually available upon getting access to free pills, so this is all just an attempt to play to your negative perception of male libido. I don’t appreciate the accusations it implies.

              Second, more women being sexually available is an advantage to players, men looking for relationships had access to those women all along, sex just wasn’t so freely part of the deal, and there is nothing to suggest that will change.

              Most insurance companies that cover abortions cover birth control pills too.

              Also remember, this is an issue of the left FORCING companies that don’t agree with that lifestyle from having to pay for it. Hence why your second paragraph is largely all strawmen.

              ““those sluts can pay for their own birth control, having sex without pregnancy is a privilege they don’t deserve if they can’t afford it””

              And given, by your own admission, condoms are free and protect women just as well as men (IE, unlike the pill, no faith or trust in the partner need be relied on in it’s use), they will never not be able to afford it. Presuming anyone is actually saying that, and it isn’t just a paraphrase with strawman assertions injected into it.

            • Blowing past the medical applications of birth control pill (because it is a medication, and it shouldn’t be up to employers who should toughen up about PMS and who deserves help), you seem to be talking about you being against it based on political and economic ideologies. That is what I thought from the beginning, but you insist on bringing it into a privilege argument. You don’t mind the cheaper non-medical option being free, but you see hormonal birth control as a privilege. That is what I assumed in the first place, before you started telling me it was because women already have way more reproductive rights than men. I am fine with you having a different political/economic opinion on the matter, even if I disagree with it. Pass around the condoms, but I think that it is only logical to supply as much hormonal birth control as possible to those that want it, because even with widespread use of condoms and the pill 50% of pregnancies were unplanned, so obviously putting out more, easily accessible birth control could take that massive, expensive burden off health care that is abortions and unintended births.

              Also, I guess you missed the Rush Limbaugh satire, I guess he could be considered to be composed of straw though come to think of it.

      • An uncomplicated vaginal birth is approximately $7,000, or a life time supply of birth control pills. That is where insurance premiums could go instead.

  8. Mark Neil says:

    “All of these controversies, from Komen to birth control, have been overwhelmingly framed in this way: religious/moral freedom vs. women’s rights. Or something along those lines. Here, the details aren’t what’s important –the point is the vs. women part.”

    Your last sentance dishonestly changed the topic. You changed it from being “vs women’s RIGHTS” to being about “vs women”. these are two different things. While I agree that birth control or breast examines are of concer for women, and very much the men who love them, I am uncertain where getting those pills or exams pad for with public funds should be deemed a “right”? It comes down to, what right do men have that women don’t that is being violated by not paying for these things? This isn’t a vs women thing, it’s a “this isn’t a right” thing. In other words, you’ve taken the wrong word as the focus when you choose to drop one of the words from vs Women’s rights”.

    “Both husband and wife are being responsible to what they want and the children they can provide for.”

    Yes, and I agree that both husband and wife should be responsible for paying for that brith control, but that’s not what the discussion is about, is it? It’s about me having to pay for it, as a woman’s “right”. I’m not the one having sex with wifey, I shouldn’t have to pay for it. Now, if we’re talking about all prescription medications getting paid for, that’s something different.

    As to the caution to the wind ladies… Do I already not bear responsibility by the fact that, should a pregnacy occur, I have no say in the matter, but will be legally bound to the responsibilities of any choice she chooses to make? Basically what you are saying is, I should have to pay for birth control I have no say in her using correctly (or even at all), AND I should have to pay for my condoms (because we’re talking about the pill getting paid for, not condoms) to ensure my own reproductive autonomy AND I should have to pay for whatever choices she makes should the condom fail. And all this should be a RIGHT for women (and men can go flap in the wind).

    So, while I do agree that birth control should be an issue for both, I would argue it already is given the man is the one who has his responsibilities to whatever the woman chooses legally enforced. So giving women even more “rights” than they already have, when they already have more rights than any man, seems rather sexist, and so to imply that it’s men that are the problem here…

    Basically, if you want men to take on the responsibility for preventing pregnancy, give us the authority to make the choices needed to do so. But that would not be reasonable, as it’s your body, your choice… but that also means it’s your responsibility. So pay for your own birth control, just as I pay for mine.

    • The real issue is the definition of “right”. Many people have completely dropped the definition that has been used from Locke to Hobbes to Paine where a right is what a human being is entitled to by their virtue of being human. Many people now define a right as something the government should have to provide for them which is a privilege by the classic definition. I think we’d all be better off by agreeing to terms and then discussing what the government should provide. I think the vasy majority of people would agree that there are many things the government should provide beyond basic rights and I’m not opposed to that concept but I do think it’s counter productive to relabel a word that has had a specific meaning for centuries.

      • Mark Neil says:

        “Many people now define a right as something the government should have to provide for them ”

        Do you have anything to support this assertion? Can you say for sure that when a women’s “rights” group says a woman should have the “right” to be provided the pill, she isn’t meaning “right” in the traditional sense? Are you certain the choice to use the term “right” isn’t a ploy to elicit more emotion and greater support? After all, more people will support an movement that is railing against someone being denied a right than a group railing against being denied a privilege. So while I will agree many people will classify privileges as rights, to suggest that the very definition has changed, I very much disagree. The classic definition is very much still intended when used, it’s just dishonestly used on the wrong things.

        Furthermore, what definition is used makes little difference in several of my points, for example, turning the debate from “vs women’s special privileges” to “vs women themselves” is again (or more appropriately, still) dishonest.

        With that said, it bothers me when someone enters a conversation by challenging the definitions, and not addressing (one way or another) any other points of discussion. It appears as an underhanded attempt to muddy the waters and distract away from the real discussion. Hell, an “otherwise, I agree with most of your points” would suffice, though somehow, I don’t think you do.

    • Why does everyone on this thread have so many issues with providing more rights to women for the sole reason that men don’t have equal reproductive rights? That might sound odd, but really, I wouldn’t complain about men getting more rights in the workplace in a country where women have less rights in the workplace- more rights for ANYONE is a good thing when it comes to protecting their safety and health. It’s a step in the right direction for women to have the opportunity to control when they have children, and in an ideal world they would involve their partners fully in every decision related to their offspring. I just don’t see how funding birth control so that you get to pay less many in the long run (pregnancies, birth, and children are ENORMOUSLY more expensive than helping a lady buy a pill), that could possibly negatively effect men specifically. Sure, maybe you just don’t want to pay for anything anyways, you probably don’t want to pay for heart disease medication, anxiety medication, anti-depressants, or physiotherapy for any stranger- but there are both women and men who will always feel this right-wing way about spreading the costs over the population. Guys that say “it’s not my uterus and I’m not getting any, so why should I have to pay for it” are mirrored by right-wing females everywhere. If this is your view, fine, but it is more of a financial and political standpoint than this men vs. women thing.

      • Mark Neil says:

        “Why does everyone on this thread have so many issues with providing more rights to women for the sole reason that men don’t have equal reproductive rights?

        This is just using shaming language to do the same thing I discussed in the first paragraph, as well as what I discuss in my response to Kurt. Getting your birth control paid for is not a right, it is a privilege. You are attempting to frame that privilege as a right to garner support for it, then you attempt to shame me by pointing to how so many people have a problem with giving rights to women (thus, making it about “vs women”).

        Furthermore, by claiming because men don’t have reproductive rights is the “sole” reason, you are being deceitful and creating a strawman argument. This is especially true given that the bulk of my post is arguing getting birth control paid for IS NOT A RIGHT, nor should it be made one as it is simply an enabling of a lifestyle choice (not a neccessity for life (for the sake of clarification)).

        Furthermore, what ever happened to equal rights for all? Funny how unequal rights is suddenly OK when it benefits women.

        ” That might sound odd, but really, I wouldn’t complain about men getting more rights in the workplace in a country where women have less rights in the workplace”

        Oh you most certainly would. you would be demanding those rights apply to both genders. to say otherwise is to tell me you don’t want an honest discussion.

        “It’s a step in the right direction for women to have the opportunity to control when they have children,”

        Are you suggesting they don’t have that option now? We’re not talking about birth control pills and all other contraceptives being removed from the market, we’re talking about who pays for them. And even if we were talking about removing contraceptives from the market, women would STILL have control through abstinance and tricks used throughout history, before modern contraceptives. So the “right” you are talking about already exists and is not being threatened.

        ” in an ideal world they would involve their partners fully in every decision related to their offspring”

        In an ideal world, money would not be needed, everyone would have everything they needed, animals would live in peace with each other and little birdies would help me get dressed in the morning and my grizzly bear friend would carry me about everywhere we went. We don’t live in an ideal world.

        “I just don’t see how funding birth control … could possibly negatively effect men specifically”

        Another strawman, as I never said it had a negative effect on men, I said it wasn’t a “right”, nor should it be my responsability outside my own relationships. If the enabling of lifestyle choices start becoming rights, where does it end? Should getting my anual trip to the carribian paid for become a right too? What about the drunks beer, should that get paid for too? I always feel miserable on wednesday, and would rather stay home (but I can’t afford to), should it become a right for me to get wednesdays off work, but still paid for? Where does it end?

        The rest is largely strawmen, ad homium attacks and shaming language that I don’t care to address.

        • Also the beer and vacation thing, really not any better than Rush Limbaugh comparing birth control to shoes. Birth control is a medication, used to treat medical conditions AND prevent pregnancy. You can’t separate the two functions with a clean line. It is completely, utterly, absolutely, and totally ridiculous to compare an addictive substance or a complete luxury to a medication. Most girls I know were taking the pill long before they were sexually active to control debilitating PMS, anemia, or acne. In slightly rarer (but still quite common) cases, we have PCOS, fibroids, endometrisis etc that require life long treatment with the pill. And yes, it also prevents pregnancy, but it does SO much more. This is such a side-track for this discussion it is actually insulting to any woman that has taken the pill for any of these reasons. I don’t think that I should have to vomit from pain, get intolerable migraines, and lose excessive blood that causes anemia just because I probably would only qualify for a diagnoses of “bad PMS” if my employer chose not to supply birth control and I couldn’t afford it. Do you still think that’s a luxury equal to a drunk’s booze? Or do you understand the difference between a luxury and a medication that could or could not be prescribed to improve health conditions?

        • Also, take a look around at every other country that has a universal health care plan (see: every developed country other than the US) that covers birth control pills for anyone that qualifies as not being able to afford the portion that their insurance doesn’t cover (if it isn’t completely covered by insurance already). These countries are so great, because they pay for your annual Caribbean trip too!! Once access to prescription medications, whether the medication is related to sexual health, mental health, or physical health, is there for everybody and you can go to the hospital without worrying about going broke, it is just one big, slippery slope that declines into vacations being paid for, everyone staying home every day they feel like it, production goes way down (check out working hours in other countries VS US), they start to off the old expensive people, and everyone else just has a grand old time. That’s the great thing about starting with a universal health care plan, there is no end to the luxuries that will be piled on!

          Okay, sarcastic voice over. But really, comparing birth control to your vacation really hits a nerve for me because I have been using it for both medical AND sexual reasons for five years now, and would not otherwise be able to afford it. So many women use it for a combination of both, and you insinuating that it is a luxury that allows us to go live in la-la land is degrading.

        • You thought I was using shaming and straw men language? You compared access to birth control to paying for your vacation or booze. Really.

          • Jenna – I agree with your points and would like to add another, which I tried to make in the post itself:

            Women, if they are worried about pregnancy, are having sex with dudes with penises and sperm. Therefore, the men are engaging in some non-pregnancy sex, without having to cover bcp costs. Now, that said, I believe contraception, both for the non-pregnancy and for the health care concerns (thanks for that, as I mentioned in the post, my periods make me pass out – legit), are something that we as a society should deem part of our health care – seeing as 98% of women use contraception, and those women *by definition* are having sex with me who *also* don’t want to get pregnant.

            Therefore. The idea that “you women should pay for YOUR birth control” is not valid. It’s just not. If we weren’t having sex with me, we wouldn’t NEED birth control.

            SO if you are a man not having sex with anyone, well, bummer. But ya know – I didn’t want us to be in Iraq. I don’t believe religious institutions should be tax-exempt. Do I get out of that? Nope. Don’t. Because I am a US citizen. It’s not for the good of ONE, it’s for the good of ALL. That would be why we vote. And, I’d say even if you are someone not getting laid, the 98% of everyone else trumps you. Sucks, but them’s the breaks.

  9. wellokaythen says:

    I don’t think that the issue is completely either/or, but somewhere in the middle.

    Women can get pregnant and men can’t. Once pregnant, a woman has the right to decide whether or not to try to carry the baby to term, and at that point the man’s right to decide whether or not to be a parent is all in her hands. She has reproductive rights before and during pregnancy, while he only has reproductive rights before pregnancy.

    So, men and women are involved, but women carry a little more of the burden, the risk, and the rights, so it’s not quite 50/50. Just a rough estimate, how about birth control is 66% a woman’s issue and 34% a man’s issue?

    • Yeah, you’d think because the point at which men hold the most reproductive rights is before pregnancy, he would want the maximum possible access to birth control for his current/future partner(s). Seeing as most women aren’t crazy, and most women are not trying to steal sperm to make babies then charge you for the rest of your life, it seems like two reasonable adults should be able to come to terms that they both have a steak in birth control. Due to biological reasons, birth control is mostly hinged on women, but that doesn’t mean that men are just these right-less, responsibility-less anonymous penises- you guys have a say in this, and the right to involve yourself in your partners birth control decisions. No one that I know of has ever turned down a discussion of birth control with their partner, because it is an issue that is incredibly relevant to both of you.

      • Mark Neil says:

        “Yeah, you’d think because the point at which men hold the most reproductive rights is before pregnancy, he would want the maximum possible access to birth control for his current/future partner(s)”

        That doesn’t help his reproductive rights any though. Her having discounted or free birth control doesn’t mean she’s going to use, doesn’t mean he’s any more aware of whether she’s using it or doesn’t make him any more protected from someone who wish’s to deceive him to get pregnant. This “right” does nothing for men. But it does give women even more reproductive rights and privileges than they already have, and continues to reinforce reproductive rights as a women’s issue (as it’s only the pill being discussed, not condoms, which don’t just stop pregnancy, but STD’s as well).

        • 7% of fertile women who are not intending pregnancy between 15-44 are not using contraception. Your chances of having sex, if you are sexually active, with a women and having contraception involved is VERY high. Sure, having a greater accessibility for everyone, regardless of their workplace and economic access, doesn’t guarantee that she is going to use birth control, but we do know that taking and continuing birth control is very closely related to the cost and availability. I am saying that having partners that have access to birth control (not hinging on economic status or religious workplace) would increase the likelihood that partner would take birth control.

          Where did I say that condoms should not be covered? Condom should be free everywhere for everyone, we can see by the STD stats that not everyone is using them. I use condoms- I get them for free at the clinic. If they weren’t free, I would still use them, but I have had sex before without using a condom simply because I had run out and knew I could get them for free, but they weren’t immediately available. This wasn’t a big deal because I am in a monogamous relationship, but I am sure it happens in other cases where it IS a big deal because a partner is unknowingly infected with STD’s.

          So you don’t want to pay for it, and think that unintended pregnancies that result will not affect your insurance premiums. That is a political and financial opinion. Turning it into a “those feminazis want us to pay for their lives” statement is, at the very least overdramatic.

          Plus, you are not addressing the fact the the pill is a MEDICATION that is used for MEDICAL CONDITIONS, some of which are impossible to prove. My own mother had PCOS for her entire life, never got the diagnoses completed because all the little boxes couldn’t be checked, and ended up almost dying from blood loss when a cyst burst, destroying her ovary and creating internal bleeding that she didn’t know about until she fainted and had to be rushed into emergency surgery. Most women with these issues will have an extremely hard time getting a diagnoses. Before getting a diagnoses for PCOS, most women will have to see 4 doctors, with at least one of those a specialist (ob/gyn or dermatologist typicall). And what about women that use the pill to manage cramping? When is that considered a “privilege” or a “right” to not be debilitated with physical pain for 1-2 days out of a month? Are you going to decide if she can tough it out, or if it should be covered?

          • Mark Neil says:

            Your second paragraph kinda sounds like it’s invalidating the first. Despite having free access to condoms, people still don’t use them, sometimes even including yourself. So what makes you think that 7% who don’t use contraception (any? including the free condoms already available to them? or if you mean the pill specifically, is it not true that these are the woman to whom the pill has extreme or even dangerous side effects for, meaning even if free, they would not use them?) will suddenly start just because it’s free?

            And the fact is, even if a few of those 7% did start using the pill once free, a man STILL can’t know if she isn’t one of those ones still not using it, or one of the woman who want to have a baby, which is in truth, the higher risk and will not change (but will have more pill users to hide behind).

            And you’re still ignoring this is all a lifestyle choice, and should not be eneabled and bankrolled by taxpayers as some kind of “right”. Pay for your own damn lifestyle choices. You still haven’t given me a reason to consider this a right, you’re just playing on the assumption I am some skirt chasing caveman that just wants sex sex sex, to try and entice me into supporting you. IT IS NOT A RIGHT!

            As to where the pill is used for a medical condition… Don’t you think trying to get more funding for research on diagnosing those conditions is a better use of money? Wouldn’t the money used on birth control be better spent on research? Wouldn’t that make sure the woman who actualy needed that money were getting it is a better way to go than just spreading it out to all women so that most of them can just fuck all they want, and the ones that have those conditions can temporarily patch it with a daily pill? I get some pretty extreme headaches, fairly frequently. It takes about 3 extra strength advil and about 6 hours of sleep to get over them, should everyone be given advil for free, as a right?

            • So you still would rather your insurance premiums to go to higher rates of abortion and births ($7,000 for uncomplicated vaginal, and a majority of births have complications) than the chance that approximately 20% of women take it exclusively for birth control purposes? The other 80% use it to control cycles, PMS, acne, PCOS, endometrisis etc. so sounds like a lot of very expensive doctors visits. Whole lot of effort to slightly restrict access of birth control to 20% of some women whose employers don’t want to cover it.

              I think everyone has the right to have STD and pregnancy free sex, so I think everyone has the right to condoms and oral birth control. You think that is a lifestyle choice. That is your political and financial opinion. I don’t think we will ever agree, no matter how much you think you would save money.

            • Also saying that men shouldn’t treated like skirt chasing cave man and then saying that most women are on the pill so they can “fuck all they want”, really does make me not really care what you say. Most women aren’t on the pill so they can fuck all they want, and most guys would rather have sex with girls on the pill. That is what I was saying that it would be in all sexually active mens interest to allow full access to contraception.

              Treating paying for birth control like it is some slippery slope into all-expenses-paid vacations, then demeaning women that are on the pill as if they are sex-crazed heathens with no sense of responsibility and insisting that you care for all women’s health by supporting an increase to diagnostic funding all the while knowing that the chances that a woman would be turned down due to a lack of diagnoses as soon as this would be implemented is extremely high, then saying that you don’t mind paying for condoms but ALL people should use condoms and only use other forms of birth control if they can afford it….it’s a right-wing Rush-Limbaugh style badge on your shoulder, and I guess if that is what you want to put out into the world, that’s fine.

            • Jenna – again, agree. And I apologize for not having time to get through all the comments.

              I do want to make this point again: A lot of the conversations seem to be based on the idea that women are having all this sex that men aren’t having (when, again, they wouldn’t need contraception if that were not having it with men who ALSO didn’t want to get pregnant) AND more IMPORTANTLY that women are all out to sabotage sex into babies. That sex is this weird, distrustful dance where the ladiez be out to get the babiez and the menz just have no options… or something? I don’t think that is reality AT ALL. While I am sure there are women out there trying to get preggers, just as there are men out there who don’t want to use condoms and don’t care about the outcome – I DON’T BELIEVE THIS IS REALITY and I feel sorry (yes sorry) for all of those among us (men and women) who think that it is. I am sorry you feel you can’t have sex because women will be trying to manipulate you and you cannot POSSIBLY even imagine a time when you could trust a women. Because I believe that MOST PEOPLE are in trusting relationships where both partners rely on contraception, and have honest conversations about the best methods for themselves. Because I believe honesty and trust are INTEGRAL to sexual relationships, and I believe MOST people would agree with me.

              If you believe otherwise, that is all on you. I see no mainstream evidence for this, and if you went out into the world and asked people on the street, the vast majority would reject the view that they can’t trust their partners when having sex. The view that is fundamental to the arguments being made here – that are, once again, pulling us down into things that have much less to do with the point I was trying to make.

  10. Nikki,

    I think you make excellent and important points about these issues. But please, for the love of the English language, use better grammar. It’s killing me.

    I’m sorry. I hate to be that asshole that’s uptight about the bad grammar, diction, and spelling, but I’m a writer too and it just bugs the shit out of me. I was raised by an English teacher, it’s almost physically painful when I see stuff like that. Thank you!

    • well i see nothing wrong with nikki’s writing style. it was clear, engaging and personable – her voice, her cadence.

      better to be personable, than plain and professional. i find unadorned language unadorned dull. a bit of colour, a bit of flash keeps the audience’s eyes trained

      • Thanks jameseq – and Sarah your points are valid, but clearly I was not using proper grammar in a lot of this post. I agree that it was a bit much, actually. However, I was trying to funny, or to convey how I actually speak about these things. As jameseq points out, IMHO blogging can be more, or at least equally, about voice than about being correct.

  11. Peter Houlihan says:

    Ok, if you need birth control as medicine, then yes, health insurance should cover it like any other medicine, religious beliefs of your employer notwithstanding.

    If you want it because you don’t like condoms… thats not really medicine, its a luxury. If a couple want to ditch condoms and start using the pill instead then they should put their heads together and ask if they can afford it. If the answer is no then why should someone else have to pay for it?

    The barrier method is one of the safest out there, its not like people don’t have options.

    • Mark Neil says:

      Exactly. If this really was about those that needed it to address a problem, the argument wouldn’t be about providing for all women.

    • I agree with underlying argument, and I personally almost always use condoms AND bcps.

      That said. A lot of people don’t like using condoms – I hear it from men AND women – so most couples who choose to rely on bcps make that decision consciously and because of this dislike. Relying on another form of contraception is the better option.

      However, I am actually *not* arguing that the government pay for my bcps. I understand how we got over into that conversation, but that wasn’t my point. My point is that ANY conversations about contraception and the like should be about men AND women – not just women alone, for the exact point you made, Peter. It’s a joint decision, and men have a stake in avoiding pregnancy, too. So why don’t we talk about it that way? There was another paragraph that did not get posted (for some reason):

      “Look. No matter what side of the fence you fall on with these issues, they fundamentally
      involve men. Men have sexual health care needs, too. Men go to Planned Parenthood.
      Men be family planning. Men be having the sex without the babies. Men want the people
      close to them healthy and happy and functioning (and not passing out on the bathroom
      floor). Some men may biologically be female.”

      I am not sure why it was left out, but THAT is my point.

      • Peter Houlihan says:

        “I agree with underlying argument, and I personally almost always use condoms AND bcps.”

        Good call, its probably the best combination of BC out there

        “That said. A lot of people don’t like using condoms – I hear it from men AND women – so most couples who choose to rely on bcps make that decision consciously and because of this dislike. Relying on another form of contraception is the better option.”

        And some are allergic to them and have to buy expensive non-latex ones. Incidentally I’m one of the condom haters: I actually find it difficult to go all the way with them, but if I was with someone with whom I couldn’t afford the pill and the only thing that did it for them was PIV I’d be willing to do it for them. The point is that its a choice, its not like couples who can’t afford BC can never have any sexual contact.

        “However, I am actually *not* arguing that the government pay for my bcps. I understand how we got over into that conversation, but that wasn’t my point. My point is that ANY conversations about contraception and the like should be about men AND women – not just women alone, for the exact point you made, Peter. It’s a joint decision, and men have a stake in avoiding pregnancy, too. So why don’t we talk about it that way?”

        Oh, fair enough. And I’m completely with you on that: access to affordable BC is a men’s issue too. I just think that condoms fulfull that particular role. As above, I absolutely support the use of BC as a medicine. And yes, its a shame that its been turned into some kind of men vs. women thing.

Trackbacks

  1. […] In addition, the many who are also perfectly happy to allow the patriarchy to protect them from this. I mean, why are we again discussing birth control and family planning and sexual health as if women are the only ones who do this and men have nothing to say about it?? Why are so many men silent, when they have wives and sisters and daughters and mothers?? Why are we calling all of this “women’s health” when it is so clearly SO MUCH MORE? […]

  2. […] is an e-mail I received from a friend after she read my post on birth control over at the Good Men Project last […]

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