Women have shouldered the costs of birth control for too long. They live with the side effects, risks, and responsibilities of obtaining and using it, or they risk pregnancy. Men face no such consequence. Perhaps that is why surveys report that men have a lower tolerance for the associated side effects. Given that men cause 100% of unplanned pregnancies, isn’t it time for them to share some of the responsibility?
The good news is that many millennial men indicate that they do want options and the ability to choose for themselves. Education can also help to dispel concerns that may have led to the unfavorable opinions in survey results.
A birth control pill for men and other long-acting and reversible contraceptives would drastically cut unwanted pregnancies. These options could be game-changers when it comes to solving the world’s biggest problems. Family planning is the most effective way to address climate change, child welfare, and economic equality. There are several new methods, including a gel and a pill, that could be approved more quickly with better policies and more funding.
What’s blocking these new technologies that could solve some of the world’s greatest problems? In one word: men.
Resistance to Societal Changes
The patriarchal systems that run our country and which have been in place for thousands of years rely on control of women’s bodies. By increasing reproductive freedom for all, women gain greater power in their household, the workplace, and in society. And that threatens the influence of cultural norms and institutions.
The men who shape our society and policies are subscribers to the “bigger is better” approach to the economy. This economic view relies on unrestrained population growth to create more consumers and taxpayers. Those like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio push for more babies because they falsely claim that “it’s good for the economy”.
These unsustainable “capitalism at all costs” policymakers are the ones making decisions on the progress of male contraceptive, from the prioritization of testing and approvals, the allocation of funding, the determination of acceptable levels of risk, and tolerable side effects.
In creating these pro-natalist economic policies, they didn’t consider the impact that these pro-growth policies have on the environment, equality, or the needs for children. And we’re all paying the price.
Greater Reproductive Freedom for Men
The Parsemus Foundation shows there is a demand from men for greater reproductive freedom as shown by these quotes from their site:
“I want control of my fertility that is safe, convenient to use and totally effective. That way I can be in control of my life rather than putting it in the hands of women and government agencies.” – S. Gee, South Korea
“Having control over when I have children is the foremost thing in my life. I place great value on having freedom of choice and freedom from worry…” – Anonymous, South Africa
Breaking Down Barriers
Our culture is unquestionably imbalanced in terms of gender equity, which begs an important question. If there’s a product that makes life easier for men, will there be fewer hurdles in accessing it? Considering that the majority of decision-makers are men, it’s not a big leap to assume that would be true. In such a case, increased acceptance, affordability and access to male contraceptive would create pressure for easier availability to women, pulling the rug out from much the resistance to women’s reproductive rights.
The Big Picture
You and your kids have a right to a world that is not ravaged by climate change, and environmentally and socially destabilized through massive population growth. The male pill and other contraceptives could go far towards preventing that scenario.
Our archaic “bigger is better” child tax credit system pays the wealthy (along with everyone else) to have children. Why not shift that funding toward the development and clinical trials of male contraceptives for a more economically and environmentally sustainable future? That’s one of the many questions Having Kids will be asking members of Congress in the months to come.