The male Pill is coming – we know that for sure – and I, for one, welcome its arrival. Like so many other women, I’ve tried numerous forms of oral contraception, and found that all of them affected my mood, sex drive or weight. Some even (adversely) affected all three, and as someone who suffers from depression and takes medication for the same, well, is it any wonder I eventually went for a non-hormonal choice?
If and when the male Pill does become available, I would be beyond happy to hand that reproductive responsibility over to my partner – after all, he’s got off fairly Scot free when it comes to contraception (not to be gratuitously vulgar, but having to dispose of a condom is not in any way comparable to having to pump your body full of hormones to halt your reproductive cycle).
Weirdly, whenever this possibility is discussed – among friends, on forums or, a few months back, on an episode of Midday on TV3 – one of the first questions asked is (with furrowed brow): but, would you trust your partner to take the male Pill?
It’s such a weird thing to ask – and assumes so much (or so little) about the man in question. Firstly, it assumes that a man wouldn’t have a vested interest in not getting pregnant – and tells a lot about how we treat and view fathers in our society. The idea that a man would simply not bother taking the male Pill because, sure, he’s not the one who’d get pregnant, plays into the fact that we – as a society – dramatically undervalue a man’s role in parenting his children. (I don’t mean to be heteronormative here; this is about men and the male Pill, but I think that both parents – in cases where there are two – have a right to be equal parents to their child.)
Take the idea that men get so little paternity leave in Ireland – it’s because it’s assumed that a father doesn’t need to bond with his biological child. His role isn’t the nurturing role; it is the providing role and so, off you go back out to providing ASAP, Dad.
I actually think the arrival of the male Pill will make a huge difference when it comes to fathers’ rights and responsibilities, and will massively change how we talk about pregnancy and decisions around pregnancy. Women won’t be able to “trick” (does this even happen?) men into having babies, for example; and they won’t be able to “ruin his life” by demanding child support for a child he helped create because, sure, if he doesn’t want to create babies, he can just take the male Pill.
Each individual partner in a relationship – or otherwise – will be responsible for their own reproductive organs, and the potential children that may arise from their “coupling”.
Of course, the question around whether or not men can be trusted to take the male Pill feeds into another popular rhetoric – that men are idiots. Is there any reasonable human being out there who thinks this is actually true?
Obviously we can use anecdotes – about how he “forgot” to bring in the washing or “forgot” to take meat out of the freezer or “forgot” to put out the bins – to prove that men are ultimately more forgetful than women, but I suspect that a lot of the times my partner “forgets” to do things are as a direct result of the fact that he rarely has to remember; there’s usually a woman there to do his remembering for him. Thus begins a conversation about emotional labour, which is worth reading up on; start here.
So what about you: does the idea of the male Pill scare you, or excite you? For my part, I’m excited about a new dawn for equality where we can each, men and women, have full reproductive rights; no one can “trick” anyone into anything; and we recognise that men are fully capable of making decisions and taking responsibility. #NotAllMen, maybe, but that’s a conversation for another day…