5 Reasons the GOP's Attack on Birth Control Screws Men
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One of the oddest linguistic quirks of our discourse is to phrase human reproduction in passive terms. We often say that women “get pregnant,” or “become pregnant,” and sometimes even that they simply “find themselves" pregnant.
It certainly wouldn't be odd if we were speaking of the tiny crustacean Daphnia pulex , or the snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum – females of those species are capable of asexual reproduction known as parthenogenesis. Human females, on the other hand, are different. It's just not possible for a woman to be walking down the street, minding her own business, only to discover that – bam! -- she's suddenly “with child.” Absent medical intervention, a man is always involved in this process.
So it seems bizarre that the debate over contraception is more often than not framed as a “women's issue.” By definition, that's not true. It's not an issue for gay women (unless they're taking the pill for medical reasons), but it is an issue for straight men.
And there are plenty of reasons why men – especially straight ones, but also anyone who has a straight woman of reproductive age in his life – should be deeply offended at the Right's sudden attempt to stigmatize contraception with this relentless and deeply offensive slut-shaming we've seen of late. Here are five reasons why.
1. Modern Birth Control Methods Help Men Have More Sex
Let's dispense with the obvious first: sex.
In North Carolina this week, commissioners in one county rejected a state grant to cover the costs of family-planning for low-income women and their men. New Hanover County Chairman Ted Davis told the Wilmington Star-News, “If these young women are being responsible and didn’t have the sex to begin with, we wouldn’t have this problem.”
Any red-blooded straight dude should be absolutely appalled by such a prospect.
While there was never a more "innocent" time when people only had sex within the bounds of matrimony (that's just a cherished conservative myth) it is the case that when premarital (or peri-marital, or extra-marital) sex came with significant risk of pregnancy, and a ton of social stigma attached to it, women were a lot choosier. If you're a straight man with an active sex life, you should be outraged that social conservatives are trying to shame women for using birth control, and thus trying to put a crimp in your game.
This is true for married men as well. According to research by the Guttmacher Institute, only “3% of married Catholic women who do not want to become pregnant rely on natural family planning.” That requires abstaining for about 11-12 days in a woman's menstrual cycle, meaning that the husbands of the 72 percent of married Catholic women who use modern contraception are, in theory at least, having significantly more sex.
Also, if you're a man in a monogamous relationship, wouldn't you prefer your partner use the pill or another method instead of condoms? They're both forms of birth control, obviously, but the Right's slut-shaming doesn't include methods that men use.
2. You Say 'Consequence-Free Sex' as if That's a Bad Thing
At the heart of socially conservative antipathy toward contraception is their rage at the idea that women can go around sleeping with men without facing the “consequences” of their actions.
It's nonsense, but it's nonsense that cuts both ways. Shotgun weddings are largely a thing of the past for today's man, thanks largely to modern forms of birth control (and access to abortion).
According to CNN, in 2010, “The cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 for a middle-income, two-parent family averaged $226,920,” and that figure didn't include college. Even irresponsible men, like notorious deadbeat dad Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Illinois, can end up being ordered by the courts to pick up their share of that tab. Men should be very upset with anyone messing with their “consequence-free” sex lives.