THE VASECTOMY FILES: A Film by Jonathan Stack
I’m now in Sydney, Australia putting the finishing touches on our documentary, THE VASECTOMIST. Three years making this film, and my whole life dealing with the issues it touches on, and we’re really getting close. There’s nothing as exciting as actually manifesting what you can imagine.
It’s also petrifying. I watch the video webisodes reluctantly. It’s hard to watch myself. The difference between how I feel about life and how I look and sound on screen is painful. Getting old sucks and vanity is a bitch.
On the inside, I am reflecting deeper into the meaning of this journey. Throughout my career as a filmmaker I have stayed neutral. It’s safe behind the camera where I control the frame and the narrative. I‘ve chosen to “come out” on this project and allow my partners to direct me. I’ve ceded control. I think I look foolish and fat and my jokes not as funny I imagine. It’s embarrassing.
Watching this week’s webisode is a vivid reminder of how my virility and my capacity to seduce is interwoven with my own self worth. It is in part why I fear losing the power to make babies, which is really just my fear about losing power. I remember interviewing a Kabbalah teacher in Israel. He told me the masculine is the energy, but the feminine gives it form and power. I love the feminine, crave it or maybe as I’m accused by an “ex”, use it just to find love for myself.
Last week alone she sent me over 70 messages emphasizing just how horrible a person I am. In the latest she said, “your words are meaningless”, “you just can’t stand that I know the truth about you and how it’s all a show”, “You need to have people hang on the words of ‘Jonathan Stack’ to build up your ego”.
In some ways today’s email is worse than the ones where she calls me an asshole, mother—er, a phony and worse, probably because she’s hit a raw nerve. I pretend not to care because somehow by not caring, it won’t hurt, but it still hurts. I want to ignore her entirely or scream back, but that only makes matters worse and I don’t want to engage at this level. Ultimately, I fear any fight would only cause harm to our daughter and so I hold back and let the rage dissipate into thin air.
Yes, it is a good reminder of why I am choosing to “exit the gene” pool – I want to gain control over this part of my life. I don’t want more children and I don’t want more accidents.
At the beginning of my vasectomy journey I visit urologist, Dr. Harry Fish whose office is on the Upper East Side. His desk is filled with pictures of smiling parents and little babies. They are pictures of men and women who have conceived after a vasectomy reversal. Dr. Fish tells me that nothing gives him more pleasure.
He tells me that the first step is getting my sperm sample tested to make sure I actually need a vasectomy. For me, it’s all theoretical until he hands me a plastic cup and a tattered Playboy magazine and tells me to go masturbate. He leads me to the bathroom and I walk inside. It smells like detergent and it’s very small. I can’t make myself comfortable and even though the cover story is about Marilyn Monroe, I fail and return to his office sheepishly. Getting a vasectomy is meant to be about erasing my fertility.
Apparently, getting prepped has already lowered my “capacity.”
Dr. Fish says that a lot of guys fail so not to worry (although he offers me a free sample of Viagra just in case). He looks me in the eye and says, “Getting sterilized is not an easy choice.” I am frozen in my seat. Sterilized? I don’t like the sound of this word. Fertile is good. Sterile not so much. Dr. Fish tells me I’m not ready for a vasectomy. He says I ask too many questions.
I tell everyone after the shoot that of course, I ask “questions”, I’m a documentary filmmaker. That’s what we do. I try to convince everyone that the only reason I am delaying getting a vasectomy is because the story I’m telling needs more drama. It’s not true. Dr. Fish is right. I’m not ready.
I’m worried that I’ll lose my “power”. I call it becoming “alpha lite”. Three years ago, I began making the film to gain control over my life. Pretty soon, I was using the making of the film as an excuse to delay the decision.
I begin feeling anxious. Then I remind myself. I may have paid a heavy price for my foolish behavior, but I have been deeply rewarded as well. There are many people who die for being sexually promiscuous. I ended up with amazing children.
And our film is getting closer to completion. The personal path I have taken is finding expression in the film we are about to finish.
For more info about the project visit http://thevasectomist.net and subscribe to the newsletter to be the first to see each new episode released by your vote.
Jonathan Stack @jstack08