The Male Pill: A Double-Edged SwordAugust 6, 2011 1 Comment
The Male Pill is apparently on its way. Yes, soon men will be able to take care of their contraceptive needs in a convenient tablet to be crumbled daily over their Cheerios, and need never bother with the difficulty, embarrassment and expense of condoms ever again. Women will be protected from the risk of unwanted pregnancy and won’t have to worry about their blood pressure. Everyone will be free to do whatever with whomever they want, without the spectre of unplanned parenthood looming over them, spoiling their enjoyment and technique, joy will be overflowing, wars will cease, and the Vatican will explode in a maelstrom of indignation.
Well, yes, probably. However, there are two obvious problems with this – and not just with the facetious picture I have just so crudely daubed for your barely discernible amusement. Firstly, while the male pill may well be a more useful – even more reliable – contraceptive than the condom, it won’t have the latter’s additional benefits of helping prevent the transmission of STIs. Reliance on the new pill might mean an increase in all sorts of lower-region nastiness.
Secondly, the availability of a male pill presents a very real temptation to men, whether taking it or not, who in the heat of battle might not be in the best state of mind to make a sensible decision as to how to represent themselves: “It’s ok, I’m on the pill” may be music to many people’s ears, but previously this would have been said (whether it was true or not) by the party at risk, i.e. the woman. Now being on the pill can be claimed by the party bearing none of the risk – the man. Surely telling a fib to a one-night-stand, and telling the consequences to go hang, is more difficult to resist under these circumstances.
So there we are; what was meant to bring more freedom and empowerment to men and women everywhere could prove to be less exclusively beneficial than was perhaps first imagined. Of course, this is a pretty bleak picture of things, and it is quite possible that this new power will indeed be used responsibly. Nonetheless, I can’t help feeling that this separation of responsibility for protection from having to bear the consequences of a lack of protection is a bit like self-regulation for used car salesmen.
I’m not saying that men are all feckless hedonists, or that women should be responsible for their own protection or it’s their own fault. I just think the male pill could be something of a double-edged sword, rather than just another invaluable weapon in the world’s sex arsenal.
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