The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Monday, June 20, 2005

contraception and responsibility

In comments to my post on abortion last week, several people pointed out how the burden for contraception, and any decision around abortion, falls unfairly on women. The pill, abortion, other forms of contraception, all put the onus on the woman. Even in the case of condoms, it can often require the woman to ask for the man to wear one.

Given that it is the woman who has to carry the child is there really any technological advance that could realistically remove the burden of responsibility from women?

There is much talk of a male pill being developed one day, but in casual encounters could the woman afford to take the risk of trusting her sexual partner to be honestly on it? (Totally ignoring the fact that only condoms are protection against STIs.) Of course men have the same problem, the woman they sleep with may not be honest either, but then the consequences for them are not as big.

In many ways the pill has enabled women to pretend that they have the same sexual freedoms men have always had, but at the end of the day when contraception fails, for whatever reason, it is the woman who is pregnant.

That said, I strongly disagree with (usually) religious zealots who effectively want to take away any gains women have made in the Sex For Pleasure Not Procreation Department. Most of the time people (straight or queer) have sex for fun, not to create a child. It's ridiculous to create double standards, by restricting access to contraception and abortion, which mean men can have fun but women can only have kids.

I guess the only way to even the responsibility playing field is to raise sons who feel a strong moral responsibility for any accidental pregnancies they might cause, and thus act accordingly to prevent them, or front up when they aren't prevented. Many men do already take this approach, but not enough.


Make Tea Not War said...

I think that sex education does need to be conducted in a realistic way that acknowledges the sex drive is a fundamental and good part of being human. It does no good to set sex up as somehow dirty and wrong or forbidden till adulthood. That is just a recipe for encouraging early experimentation and messed up self loathing adults.

Apart from the importance of contraception and protection against STDs and Aids the emphasis needs to be on encouraging self respect-only have sex when you want to- and consideration and sensitivity to possible partners. In particular I think it would be good if adolescent males were sensitised to the fact that pornography is fantasy not reality.

But actually I don't think it is just about a need for men to respect women. A different side of the coin is women who lie about being on the pill in order to delibrately try to get pregnant- not fair or respectful to the guy or any subsequent offspring.

Johnny the Red said...

wait - sex can be for fun? Why didn't they teach me that at my Catholic school?

span said...

Mr the Red - no comment.

MTNW - do you think there are many women who do that? I am sure there are a few, and it is a problem. Both parties need to consent not only to the sex but to the risk taking - it's the same issue of disclosure as regards STIs I reckon.

Ultimately you're right - self-respect is where it's at.