The 50th Anniversary of the female birth control pill was celebrated in May, with fanfare appropriate for a nearly microscopic product that effectively liberated women like nothing that had come before it. It also forced many, such as myself, to beg the question: how long will it be until we are celebrating the first anniversary of the male birth control pill? And where is all the demand for the FDA to approve such a medication?
There are actually many male contraceptives awaiting FDA approval. Successful trials have been completed on a daily pill, a gel applied to the skin, a patch, an injection given every three months, and an implant placed under skin and replaced every year. Sound familiar ladies?
The media would have the American public believe that the male birth control pill is merely in development, but the truth is that it has been successfully tested in other countries, such as Australia, for many years.
Several clinical studies in Australia since the beginning of the decade show a 100% success rate, and a near absence of side effects. And for the record, libido is found to remain the same (now we can truly all rest easy).
Given the refusal of the American medical establishment or the media to acknowledge the Australian advances, can we add American elitism to the reasons why the male birth control pill still seems so far away in this country?
What is the real issue here?
From what I can understand, it is male reluctance that is driving the lack of development in this area. Much of the male thought on the issue, which is the same thing I have heard from more than one of my male sexual partners, is that they are wary of taking hormones and fearful of potential side effects.
It is not possible for me to roll my eyes with enough disgust to show how this really makes me feel. Nor do I really believe this is the reason.
Is it that taking a daily pill or gel is too “girly?” I wonder if various packaging for such products are being tested on focus groups. What about manly cases with race cars or masculine “bling” wording, such as “get some”?
(Funny that the fear does not seem to be that men will act irresponsibly once given the option to have sex without the “consequences.” It makes my blood boil given all the sexist rhetoric espoused about women, access to abortion, and access to the morning after pill.)
The lack of enthusiasm from those who are male and have sex with women is an ironic and frustrating symptom of the ongoing insistence we have in this culture to view women as outlets for male sexual gratification, and then expect them to shoulder all the responsibility. This includes initiating uncomfortable conversations with men who want to get too caught up in passion to remember to reach for a condom.
You know what I say? Neutralize that sperm now! Who is with me?
Janice is a Virtual Assistant, aspiring doula, and long-time feminist activist with a passion for women's history, nonfiction, nature, and wearing flowers in her hair. She is the Founder of The Feminist's Guide, a women's history travel website, which can be found at www.thefeministguide.com.