Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Is enforcing the double standard a medical concern?

Even the FDA panel that recommended that emergency contraception be sold over-the-counter understood that unless the double standard was protected, they couldn't recommend it. So they made sure that it didn't increase promiscuity in teenage girls before they recommended it. Now I'm sure that I'm not the first person to ask if that is a legitimate medical question to ask. In one sense, it is, because obviously someone who has unprotected sex with multiple partners is at greater risk of catching an STD than someone who doesn't.
But I cannot for the life of me imagine a time when the FDA will feel the need to make sure that X drug or device doesn't increase promiscuity in teenage males. Whenever there's hand-wringing over some contraception or STD-prevention that applies to both sexes or to males only (like condoms), usually the promscuity of teenagers, no gender mentioned, is mentioned. If it's female-specific everyone lets down their hair and lets their true feelings be known--that it's the sexuality of teenage girls that needs to be contained.

Thanks, Trish Wilson.

Which lead me to a tangential thought that crosses my mind occassionally--isn't it odd how contraception is still framed as being a "woman's" issue? Now that reliable contraception is the social norm, yes, women's lives have improved dramatically. But men's lives have as well, and they know it. My guess is that nearly as many men as women believe that contraception is a right. And, correct me if I'm way off, but most men, particularly those in committed relationships, participate in contraceptive decisions. Hell, I know men who have cheerfully submitted to vasectomies, figuring that it's their turn to handle contraception now. And I've known guys to fall apart during a pregnancy scare while their girlfriends calmly outline their options.
It's somewhat understandable that smart, good, feminist men may not understand the full ramifications of the abortion debate in their own lives, in part because it's not their bodies under assault and in part because having their rights assaulted due to their sex is outside of their experience. But by now I think it's clear that the vast majority of men and women see contraception as part of their lives.
So why, when it comes to politics, is contraception still framed as a woman's issue? Obviously, the people behind banning the over-the-counter pill are mostly wild-eyed misogynists. Go to any anti-abortion rally and check out the majority of the men in a male-majority crowd--the fear and loathing of women in their eyes is telling. It's obvious that the anti-woman crowd goes after contraception because it's a way to go after women.
But rarely do you hear someone point out how men's rights are under assault by birth control bans as well. Take a typical situation where emergency contraception would be used--young couple using condoms as birth control, a joint decision most likely, and the condom breaks. Well, both of them are affected by how quickly she can get that emergency contraception, aren't they?
I'm not saying that because men are affected, it somehow makes the right to contraception more precious at all. I'm just amazed sometimes at how the debate has been totally framed by the idea that contraception is a "woman's issue", which does make it a big, fat target for the misogynist crowd. And I'm amazed more men aren't compelled to stand up and say, "Yo, I don't want a bunch of unplanned babies, either."

14 Comments:

Blogger ema said...

1) Studies done in countries where EC has been available OTC for years did not show women abusing the method. (I think the usage norm was x2/year.)

2) In the long run, EC is less effective at pregnancy protection vs. a regular method of birth control. So, even if you want to abuse EC, you can't.

Aren't politics grand?

5/30/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

Those are great points and points I've made to friends while just chatting. (Also, letting them know that if you can't get emergency contraception a 4X of the pill will do it.) But I guess I still wanna know--why aren't more men standing up on this issue? Is it because we've all bought the right's terms and believe that this is a "woman's" issue?

5/30/2004

 
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