I have a little story for the men who couldn’t handle the side effects of a new, effective male birth control shot, and the researchers who canceled the study citing “safety/adverse effects” – the very side effects 30% – that’s THIRTY FUCKING PERCENT – of women taking birth control experience daily.
The story is called: IF YOU FUCK THIS UP YOU WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE. AKA: Birth control. AKA: Pretend you are us.
From the time we are teenagers, or choose to become sexually active with men, it becomes “locker room” talk for damn near every straight woman with a vagina (and yes, I know the definition of “woman” is broader than this. I am referring here to the aforementioned identity). In every bathroom, bedroom, hallway, and yes, locker room, the giant, glaring question: HOW DO I AVOID UNWANTED PREGNANCY?
Welp let’s go over the options.
Abstinence: okay, okay. Okay. Okay. But then not okay for most of us. This is the form of birth control that will be thrown in your face if you end up pregnant, or birth control fails. You will be told that you should have stayed abstinent if you weren’t ready to accept the possibility of failed contraception. Yes, even if that risk is 1%. And yes, even though you were 18 and the dude who also trusted that condom has since left you for your roommate.
You should have thought of that! Abstinence is the only safe way!
Condoms: Absolutely excellent except you have to have them all the time and sometimes men refuse to wear them, or whine and whine about it and after a few (hundred) beers, whine so long and hard (see what I did there) that you’re like FINE because you’re 19 and drunk too and then. Well, pregnancy.
YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED ABSTINENT YOU WHORE. He’s just a boy being a boy stop having unrealistic expectations.
The pill: You realize condoms are too unreliable. You need something more secure and consistent and less reliant on a partner’s dick going in it. The pill! Perfect! You make an appointment at the clinic. You get there and they stick a scope in your vagina before they can give you the pill. Standard procedure. It’s a cold, hard, metal thing about 12 inches in diameter. You stare at the florescent lights. You remind yourself why you’re doing this.
After they stick that in, they swab your insides with a small, splintering piece of wood that they call a “Q-tip.” For the grand finale, doc sticks her hand in you and pokes and prod while you watch the interns gaze at your pubic hair.
But you get the pill! Whew. Sweet relief.
Then you take it. You notice your weight goes up. You notice you are getting a little irritable. A little sad. You notice you’re yelling a lot. You’re crying more. Now, you’re screaming, and now you’re lying in your bed, eating, and you don’t know why. Things that used to interest you don’t. You are legitimately depressed. Your friend says, “Oh, you went on the pill? Oh yeah. That’s what happens.”
What now come again, you think. I have to LIVE like this? I guess if it’s normal. And you hang in there.
You try for a few more months until the migraines come. This can’t happen. You go back to the doctor. They tell you, “Yes, the pill is triggering your headaches. We can put you on the lightest pill since you aren’t responding well to this one, but you have to use a second form of contraception, like CONDOMS.”
And here you are RIGHT BACK WHERE YOU STARTED. “But are there any other options, doc?”
She tells you: “They all have hormones, sorry. The shot. The IUD. It’s all the same. Hormones. If you don’t respond well to the pill, you won’t respond well to those.”
You survive for a few years on the lightest pill, using condoms, enduring the problems and countless pregnancy scares, but then they come out with the NON-HORMONAL IUD and you’re like OMG THANK YOU BABY JESUS and you go back to the clinic and they stick in the scope and hand and splintering wood while a couple interns watch as usual and then they stick in your uterus a little T-shaped device that feels like a tiny fish hook being dragged through your insides.
And then the cramping starts. But you have reliable birth control and no hormones! It’s worth it! Years of security!
You ignore the stories of the way they get implanted in the uterus and cause scar tissue and thus infertility (because you know how important it is to not fuck up your baby-making capacity – you must keep it all working! Do not mess this up!). You ignore it because you have to accept this risk so you don’t get pregnant, and it’s the only thing that’s worked, and truly, you are out of options.
Then your period comes, and you remember that if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Your formerly chill 3-day period has been transformed into an upside down volcanic explosion of what must be 60 % of the blood in your body. You change your tampon once an hour, twice an hour. Do I just LIVE in the bathroom now?
It doesn’t end. It’s coupled with waves of cramping that move like fire down your body. Your low back. Your stomach. Your guts.
Here it is: The cost of non-hormonal, not-man-reliant birth control. Fuck my life and my uterus.
The following week, your boyfriend tells you he can feel the IUD with his penis while you’re having sex, so could you please figure out some other form of birth control?
Check it out: IT IS TIME FOR MEN TO JOIN THE CLUB WE’VE BEEN FREQUENTING SINCE THE BEGINNING OF HUMANKIND.
(40 years, people. 40 years of no real progress in male contraception.)
What kind of 9th-circle-of-hell bullshit is this?
Women suffer for years at the mercy of their uteri, and then at the mercy of birth control methods that work but fuck us up, fail and fuck us up, and we keep working and working and trying to get it right, and a good portion of our lives are centered around avoiding pregnancy, getting pregnant, staying pregnant, all the things about pregnant, and NONE OF IT IS PRETTY and NOW YOU ARE TELLING ME THERE IS POTENTIAL FOR SOME HELP AND RELIEF AND WE ARE TOO CONCERNED ABOUT MEN HAVING TO ENDURE WHAT WE DO?
What the hell is this, “Man Cold, Side Effect Style?”
You know, we with female anatomy endure a lot of bullshit to provide certain things, such as, oh I don’t know, new life. (Or, even worse, to get it to function the way it “should” if it refuses.)
And either way, we endure it our whole lives. Hiding it. Protecting it. Defining it. Mourning it. Medicating it. Fixing it. Figuring out how to orgasm it.
It’s taken a long time for us to get to the point when we have some agency over our bodies, the course of our lives, but still, the birth control situation remains complex and unclear for many of us, and we have no choice but to figure it out.
Are dudes too delicate to endure the exact discomfort we’ve been facing for years?
Once again, society is cool with the suffering of women. We think twice for men. Once again, society kisses the ass of man – or shall I say “penis” – while telling women Well if you didn’t want to deal with birth control, why were you born with a vagina?
(Ummmmmm hey there. Didn’t choose this. Shouldn’t be punished for it.)
Yeah, I’m angry.
This one hits below the belt (I can’t stop myself).
Figure it out.
HORMONE UP, motherfuckers.
It’s your turn.